Planning is Important Even in these Changed Times
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Strategies for uncertainties
In the Twelfth Plan in India, the Planning Commission is planning for strategies to counter uncertainties. It is similar to the scenario mapping technique used by US military agencies that contains flexibilities to adjust to unexpected events. The Planning will have radar that will point to storms and dangers that both private sector and the government might encounter. Apart from conventional economic factors like savings and investments, the Planning will include intangible factors like public & market sentiments, aspirations of people, governance issues like corruption, political will and others. This is a unique concept and may take India ahead of others as far as Planning is concerned. But however good the Planning is like, the execution part of it plays a key role in bringing economic prosperity to the Indian people and the country India as a whole. It is here that lacunae are seen.
Agricultural research is important to increase foodgrains production
There is an accusation that the government has been neglecting farm R&D. Funds have been sought for the 12th Plan for significant increase in food grains production to cater to the needs of increasing population. Every year, India produces more than the population of Australia. India is decades behind countries like USA in agriculture. There is an urgent necessity to increase investment in agricultural research if India is to realise food-grains output of 280-300 million tonnes by 2020. India’s agricultural production was a record 241.56 million tonnes in 2010-11. In the 11th Plan which has already concluded, the government invested Rs.3000 crore a year for agricultural research. This is peanuts compared to the inflation ruling now. From the present output of around 240 million tonnes per annum, the government can produce another 40 million tonnes per annum by extension services. But to achieve beyond this will need agricultural research.
Controversy about poverty line definition
There has been a controversy regarding the poverty line definition by the Planning Commission. Montek Singh Ahluwalia was under attack by the media and the critics for stating that Rs.25 per day is adequate in rural areas for food. In cities, the figure was put at Rs.32 per day. But the controversy ended when Montek Singh announced that the poverty line estimate will not decide the benefits to the poor people.
Many programmes will face axe
The refocused development agenda will see two thirds of the government’s 150 centrally sponsored schemes getting axe. Many schemes of similar objectives will be merged and some will be done away with. For example ministry of agriculture, which is currently implementing 51 centrally sponsored programmes, has recommended for the reduction to 10 programmes. These 51 programmes involve an investment of over Rs.15000 crore. Planning Commission has stated that investment in infrastructure in the concluded 11th Plan may be 10% short of the targeted $500 billion. Earlier, the Planning Commission set the target of growth at 9.2% for the 12th Plan. But Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, heeded to the sane advice of his economic advisor Rangarajan, the former Governor of Reserve Bank of India and reduced the growth target to 9%. Rangarajan’s contention is that a high growth will produce invariably high inflation.
Rangarajan Panel has favoured a cut in the Planning Commission’s role. The panel wants the Planning Commission to focus on long term strategic policy and plan instead of involving itself in allocation of funds to various plans. A Parliamentary panel has questioned the rationale and role of the Planning Commission. The Committee has stressed to the government to constitute an expert panel immediately for evolving the performance of the Planning Commission and to redefine its objectives and roles. There is a need for an inclusive 12th Plan which incorporates the views of different sectors of society and economy. From the various response posted by the citizens and various civil society organisations in the websites, it has been understood that the greatest challenge facing India today is accountability, corruption, delivery and implementation.
Allocation to telecom sector
High Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure has pegged the 12th Plan funding for telecom sector at Rs.6.5 lakh crore. Out of this, Rs.5 lakh crore will come from the private telecom operators and the remaining Rs.1.5 lakh crore will come from the government telecom companies. Out of this, Rs.1.35 lakh crore will be allocated to 2G networks, Rs.1.5 lakh crore to 3G/4G, Rs.40000 crore to transmission equipment, Rs.1 lakh crore to passive infrastructure, Rs.75000 crore to broadband rollout, Rs.1 lakh crore to buying spectrum and Rs.50000 crore to modems and dongles. Bihar and Orissa have demanded a special category status for their States from the Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission also has to look at catapulting India to the hi tech field in the world. Plan panel is to focus on adding supercomputing capacities to India in the 12th Plan period. The fastest supercomputer in the world is China’s Tianhe, having achieved 2.7 PetaFLOPs on the HP-LINPACK. Its peak computing capability is estimated at 4.7 penta FLOPs. Plan panel wants the power ministry to add 15540 MW power this year so that capacity addition in the next Plan could hit 50000 mw.
The former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru firmly believed that India could grow both in industry and agriculture, only through proper planning. Nehru was the architect of the Five Year Plans, which he modelled from the erstwhile Soviet Union. The Five Year Plans have survived the tremendous changes that have taken place since the inception of the Plans in the fifties. Today we are living in the modern twenty first century technological world. But the need of the Plans has not disappeared. In fact the necessity for meaningful plans and their execution properly has only increased with changing times.
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