Short essay on the Machinery for planning at the national level (India)

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The Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in our Constitution, though not enforceable by any court, lay down principles fundamental to the governance of the country, Article 37 clearly states that it will be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.

Important Articles of the Constitution of interest to rural development are Articles 38, 39, 39A, 40, 41, 43, 46, 47, 48 and 48A. The detailed provisions are given in Annexure-I.

Briefly stated, Article 38 relates to promoting the welfare of the people, Article 39 lays down the broad policy, which the state should follow for ensuring adequate means of livelihood for its citizens, protection of interests of children and women, etc.

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Article 40 relates to organising village panchayats, while Article 41 deals with the right to work, to education and to public assistance in some cases. Article 43 relates to securing a living wage and Article 46 to the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society.

Article 47 relates to the standard of living, Article 48 to organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry and Article 48A to protection and improvement of the environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.

Thus, the Constitution contains provisions relating to the broad directions to be followed by the state in relation to the welfare and development of people of the country.

Planning commission: organisational structure

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As the Planning Commission was set up by a Resolution of the Government of India, it is not a statutory body. Thus, the plans formulated by the Planning Commission have legal status.

Though it appears as an advisory body, in practice, it wields considerable authority. The Prime Minister of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Planning Commission. We will now turn to a discussion of the structure of the Planning Commission.

Chairman

The Prime Minister of India has been its Chairman since the very inception of the Planning Com­mission. It works under the overall guidance of the National Development Council. The Chairman par­ticipates and gives direction to the Commission on all major policy issues.

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It is to be noted that the Prime Minister attends only the most important meetings of the Commission so as to ensure that the Commission’s proposals coming up before the Cabinet are viewed objectively.

Deputy Chairman

The Deputy Chairman, full-time, looks after the day-to-day work of the Planning Commission. He/ she are usually a politician of standing belonging to the ruling party at the Centre.

At times, an expert in economic development is appointed as Deputy Chairman. Prof. D.R. Gadgil and Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia are such examples.

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The Deputy Chairman enjoys the rank of a Cabinet Minister, although he may not necessarily be a member of the Council of Ministers. A Minister of State is given the portfolio of planning in order to facilitate accountability to the Parliament.

Members

All full-time Members of the Commission are in the rank of Union Minister of State. There are two types of members, in addition to the Minister of State for Planning who is’ also an ex-officio member of the Planning Commission.

The full-time members are eminent public persons, administrators, economists and technical experts. In addition, the Planning Commission has a few important Cabinet Minister, as its members, who attend the more important meetings of the Commission.

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The few important meetings that cover only the most important decisions which all members, full-time and minister-members, attend are called the meetings of the full Commission. Apart from that, the Planning Commission with full-time members meets frequently and acts as a team.

The Deputy Chairman and the full-time Members of the Commission function as a composite body in matters of detailed plan formulation. The Deputy Chairman and the full-time members look after the day-to-day work.

The Prime Minister appoints these members after consulting the Deputy Chairman, from among prominent public persons and experts. The full- time members are not given a fixed tenure, but normally they continue till there is a change in the government.

Here it is worth mentioning that in 1990 the full-time members were changed thrice in a single year. Each member of the Commission looks after a specific set of subjects. These Members direct, guide and advise various Subject Divisions of the Planning Commission in the exercise of preparing approach papers/documents for five-year plans and annual plans.

They also provide guidance to the Subject Divisions for monitoring and evaluating the plans, programmes, projects, and schemes. The Commission has collective responsibility for all decisions, and its members work as a collective body.

Each member deals individually with the technical and other aspects of his/her allotted subject(s). However, the Commission considers all those cases that require policy decisions, or where difference of opinion exists between its members. The following chart depicts the organisational structure of the Planning Commission.

Internal organisation

The Office of the Planning Commission consists of three types of divisions (1) General Division, (2) Subject Division and (3) Services Division. The work of the first two types of divisions is primarily technical, of the third administrative or secretarial.

The General Divisions are concerned with certain special aspects of the entire economy. These are:

(1) Economic Divisions: Financial Resource Division, Development Policy Division, International Eco­nomics Division and Socio-Economic research Unit;

(2) Perspective Planning Division;

(3) Labour, Employment and Manpower Division;

(4) Statistics and Surveys Division;

(5) State Plans Division, including multi-level planning. Border Area Development Programme, Hill Area Development and North Eastern Region (NER);

(6) Project Appraisal and Management Division;

(7) Monitoring and Information Division;

(8) Plan Coordination Division; and

(9) National Informatics, Yojana Bhawan Unit.

Among the General Divisions, the perspective Planning Division provides general guidance for work on long-term development which is undertaken in detail in different divisions.

Coordination of work within the Planning Commission is undertaken by the Plan Coordination Division. Subject divisions are concerned with certain specified fields of development.

Some Subject Divisions are:

(1) Agriculture Division

(2) Backward Classes Division

(3) Communication & Information Division

(4) Development Policy Division

(5) Education Division

(6) Environment & Forest Division

(7) Financial Resources Division

(8) Health, Nutrition & Family Welfare Division

(9) Housing, Urban Development & Water Supply Division

(10) Industry & Minerals Division

(11) International Economic Division \

(12) Labour, Employment and Manpower Division

(13) Multi-level Planning Division

(14) Monitoring Division

(15) Perspective Planning Division

(16) Plan Coordination Division

(17) Power & Energy Division

(18) Programme Evaluation Organisation

(19) Project Appraisal & Management Division

(20) Rural Development Division

(21) Science & Technology Division

(22) Social Development & Women’s Programme Division

(23) Social Welfare Division

(24) State Plans Division

(25) Transport Division

(26) Village & Small Enterprises Division

(27) Water Resources Division

(28) Administration & Services Division

(29) Other Units

The Subject Divisions of the Planning Commission maintain close contact with their counterparts in the various Ministries and the State Governments.

They are responsible for collecting, processing and analysing all relevant information required for the formulation, processing and evaluation of the policies and programmes included in the Plan.

Advisory Board on Energy which was functioning as a Unit under the Cabinet Secretariat was trans­ferred to the Planning Commission with effect from 15′ September 1988. Consequently, a new technical division, viz., ‘Energy Policy Division’, has been set up in the Planning Commission.

The National Informatics Centre, which was earlier under, the Department of Electronics, was trans­ferred to the Planning Commission with effect from 14, March 1988. Since then, it has become a part of the Planning Commission.

The Computer Services Division, which was earlier functioning under the Advisor (Monitoring and Information), has now been merged with the National Informatics Centre. Apart from research and plan-formulating structural units described above, the Planning Commission has Services Division which is concerned with the administration, accounts and general services, required for the commission.

The general administration including accounts is under the overall charge of the Secretary, Planning Commission. The Accounts Branch functions with an Internal Finance Advisor and Controller of Accounts who works under the ambit of General Administration.

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