NEW DELHI: The Planning Commission may soon be buried. Of course, with a spanking new nomenclature and also a new federal spirit being proclaimed as its working credo.
The new government is getting ready to usher in a ‘Niti Ayog’, ending decades of Soviet-inspired planned economy. For, that is what is likely to be the new name for the old bottle. At Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with various chief ministers, top of the agenda was the reconstitution of the old body with a new thrust -- more power to the states, bottom up policy measures and no hectoring.
The more lofty promises being: Chief Ministers won’t have to queue up before nose-in-the-air planning czars to strike hard bargains for bettering their share of planned expenditure; they may now get sit at policy meetings, decide their own fate, plan their own state kitty and the future.
It would take some time to fructify, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley later explained, with many pauses in between. It was obvious when the regular Plan disbursements were delayed to the states this year -- after the PM announced the demise of India’s central planning body during his August 15 speech -- that such a sudden death blow to the plan panel would upset a long-set working model of the flow of funds from the Centre to the states. As late as last month, states like Jammu & Kashmir were complaining that the annual receipt of central outlay had not reached, and that despite the crisis brought on by the devastating flood.
But, after the Sunday meeting, it was evident that the public obituary the PM wrote for the arch symbol of Nehruvian economics was actually going to not bring down the curtains.