gNew Delhi: It has commissioned 12 five-year plans and six annual plans involving fund outlays of over Rs 200 lakh crore in its 65-year-history, but the fabled Planning Commission is itself set to be history as the government gears up to replace it with a new-age institution in the new year.
The Plan Panel, as it is commonly known as, was set up by a simple government resolution in March 1950 and has withstood many political and economic upheavals, as also some occasional controversies, including those related to its poverty estimates as also about a huge toilet renovation bill and foreign tour expenses of its last Deputy Chairman.
It was a decisive mandate for a change of government during a politically and economically supercharged 2014 that finally led to its epitaph being written.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his first Independence Day speech this August that the Commission would get a replacement, while speculation is rife that the name and structure of the new body may be revealed on the Republic Day next month.
In the process, most of the work at Yojana Bhavan, a few blocks away from the Parliament, continues to revolve around the consultation and other procedures related to the setting up of the new institution, which the government wants to create as a more practical symbol of ‘cooperative federalism’.
Experts and insiders say 2014 would certainly be one of the most important years in the history of Planning Commission, for not just being the last year of its existence, but also for being a period when this socialist-era institution had to struggle for a makeover to remain relevant in a market-driven economy.
While it went through numerous operational makeovers over the years of its existence, ranging from being a simple planning body to a powerful ‘control-commission’ to a fiscal decentralisation instrument to an official think-tank, the voices had begun to grow louder for an overhaul even before the new government took charge in May 2014.
The defeat of the last UPA government, however, led to immediate resignation of the Commission’s Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was at the helm of affairs for a decade, and other members in the last week of May.
Immediately thereafter, rumours began surfacing on the possible names of persons to head the Panel and continued till the big announcement was made by the Prime Minister, who happens to be the Chairman of the Commission, on August 15 about the end of the road for Yojana Ayog.
Subsequently, a consultation process was launched for suggestions on the structure and role of the new body, while a lot many names, including the widely reported ‘Niti Ayog’ or Policy Commission have also come up in the public domain.
There is no official word as yet on the final structure, role or name of the new body.
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