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Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well by putting a full-stop to all the speculations made about the Planning Commission in his Independence Day speech. Once it is clear that the government is not going to continue with the conventional Planning Commission, the next task would be to ensure that the whole rejigging exercise doesn’t become “old wine in a new bottle” by changing the name and bringing in new experts.
Whatever be the form, going forward, the body will have to find ways—if it has to go beyond mere symbolism—to ensure that the money being spent through various schemes yields optimum results on the ground.
There has been too much focus on devising new schemes and allocating money to them, but implementation has never received the attention it should get.
So, the first and the foremost job of the new Planning Commission (the name is being kept just for the sake of simplicity; soon there will be a new name) will be to analyse, modify and restructure the existing central schemes in consultation with the states.
Though the Prime Minister did not outline the specifics in his speech, he did spell out the broad roadmap how it needs to be done.
It would be apt to quote Modi to bring in clarity: “…Planning Commission has contributed to the growth of the country in its own way … but the prevalent situation in the country is different, global scenario has also changed, governments are no longer the centre of economic activities, the scope of such activities has broadened. State governments have been at the centre of development and I consider this a good indication. If we have to take India forward, it can happen only by taking the states forward … To strengthen our federal structure … a team of chief ministers and the Prime Minister should be there. (The Planning Commission) is a very old system and it will have to be rejuvenated, it will have to be changed a lot … within a short period, we will replace the Planning Commission with a new institution having a new design and structure … to lead the country based on creative thinking, public-private partnership, optimum utilisation of resources, utilisation of youth power of the nation, to promote the aspirations of state governments seeking development, to empower the state governments and to empower the federal structure.”
Clearly, the approach in the planning