Saturday, January 10, 2015

Editorial, A THINK TANK MINUS PLANNING, in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 31-12-2014 issue, Vol. 10, Part 2, No. 24


The idea of a centralized planning for India originated in the course of our freedom struggle with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, elected as Congress President amidst fierce opposition from Gandhi himself, setting up a National Planning Committee in the 1938 Haripura Congress sessions, interestingly, with Jawaharlal Nehru as Chairman. Post-independence, Nehru set up the Planning Commission as a non-statutory advisory body in 1950 to fulfill the obligations under the directive principles embodied in Article 38 of the Constitution. Ever since we have gone through 12 five year plans framed basically with the idea and vision that it is the State sector that has to play a pivotal and driving role in our economy and also to ensure the citizens a minimum level of comfortable living with the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. It was no surprise that with our Constitution itself formulated as a basically unitary structure, the Commission should boil down to a centralized and bureaucratic structure much to the dismay of state units. However, the National Development Council that was there since 1952 was a bit vitalized and an Inter-State Council was also formed in 1990, under the authority of Article 263 - these to an extent intended to mollify the hurt sentiments of the state units and give them more say in national economic development. But we had come to a strange pass where constitutional chiefs of governments of states had to virtually beg the planning bureaucrats for more funds, allocations, etc. and Montek declaring poverty line at mere Rs. 28/- per day! Further, the private sector has progressed by leaps and bounds with market economy taking a major, domineering role. Within four months of his coming to power, the new Premier has announced the decision to scrap the Planning Commission and now wants to give the new year gift of this NITI (National Institute for Transforming India) Aayog, again a non-statutory body, defined as a ‘think tank’, declaring it would be a model of ‘cooperative federalism’ but which seems too unwieldy as also a repetition exercise. In our opinion, it would have been better to revamp the Planning Commission and make it a useful adjunct to the Inter-State Council, enlarging the powers and duties of the Council, than take such a drastic course which seems mainly intended to vigorously push the greedy corporate agenda and may not benefit the masses in general any much. §§§

Wish you a Happy New Year and Prosperous Pongal (Sankranti) 2015!

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