India to see a new development model in New Year

A new institution that would take the role of the Planning Commission is expected to be in place by Republic Day as per the decision arrived at a meeting of state chief ministers convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi after after the consultation meeting with chief ministers on replacing the Planning Commission, in New Delhi on 7 December 2014  

The new institution is intended to foster cooperative federalism by allowing states to decide on their priorities rather than the centre imposing projects that would not fit into a state's economic and social framework.

Under the new dispensation, overall scheme priorities would be agreed by consensus at a meeting between the prime minister and the council of chief ministers.

Based on the agreed priorities, a basket of schemes may be finalised in consultation with the ministries.

States may decide to seek assistance under selected schemes that are relevant to their strengths, potential and needs.

The centre, in partnership with the concerned ministries, would assist in designing schemes tailored to individual state's requirement to achieve the agreed outcomes.

According to the government, the new institution will engage in strategic and perspective planning, within medium-term and long-term strategy frameworks with an analytical longer term view of one to two decades. At the same time, it would also undertake continuous review and assessment of strategy and goals so that shorter term resources and mid-course corrections can be effected.

By reviewing and restructuring the five-year plan cycle, it would aim at synchronising projects and programmes with the annual plan process, working season, budget cycle and national priorities.

The new institution would function mostly as a knowledge and innovation hub, formulating a vision for a `Vibrant India' and, accordingly, offer policy advice, frame national reforms agenda, network with think tanks and universities while helping to build up capacity and technology while offering consultancy services to the central government.

It would offer to ensure better appraisal, implementation and monitoring of projects through cross-sectoral and inter-ministerial mechanism and expertise with domain knowledge.

While there was no consensus on the nature of the body that should replace the Planning Commission, chief ministers at the formal consultation meeting agreed on the need for revamping the planning body.

Chief ministers of states ruled by the Congress party questioned the government's move to scrap the Planning Commission, which was announced by the prime minister on 15 August. They demanded that the centre reinvent the plan panel rather than replace it with a new body.

Some of them were of the view that some innovative ideas are incorporated into the plan panel to make a visible impact by improving governance and improving service delivery to citizens.

Commentators say the conclave was entirely political, as the prime minister and chief ministers interacted in a more relaxed manner and without the support of officials. They also discussed specific issues with the aim of learning from each other.