When the erstwhile Planning Commission, which exercised great powers in Plan funds allocation to states, was abolished and replaced by NITI Aayog in January 2015, most believed the era of planning was to be supplanted with renewed focus on execution of infrastructure and social-sector projects, with the Aayog playing the role of a think-tank and facilitator. However, the Plan was again making a back-door entry of sorts as the Aayog was asked by government in May 2016, to prepare a 15-year Vision, 7-year Strategy and a 3-year Action Agenda in place of the earlier Five-year Plans (12th Plan between FY13-FY17 was the last one). Under former vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya, the Aayog worked on these plans in right earnest and also brought out a document on the 3-year (2017-18 to 2019-20) Action Agenda. However, there is a twist again. Though there is no official announcement yet in this regard, the work on the 15-Year Vision and 7-Year Strategy documents have been put in cold storage, sources told FE.
Panagariya’s successor, Rajiv Kumar is more focused on the prime minister’s Vision 2022, which aims to celebrate India’s 75th year of Independence by achieving a set of goals from doubling farmers’ income to pucca houses for all. One of the big initiatives in this regard is to make a dramatic improvement in the overall socio-economic development of 115 backward districts. The strategy envisaged by Kumar and his team is to adopt a focused approach and ensure convergence of efforts of the Central, state and local governments, the sources said. The priority now is to establish a real-time monitoring mechanism to focus on outcomes that matter to common people in these districts besides giving rise to a “virtuous cycle of economic development,” the sources added.
The Action Plan released by Panagariya in August this year — he quit later in the same month citing his keen interest to go back to academia — largely reflected what the government was already doing–containing fiscal deficit, addressing stressed public-sector banks etc. The Plan was not given much importance by government departments, some of which alleged that they were not consulted on the content of the report, sources said.
The Vision document was supposed to be linked to the long-term social goals and sustainable development goals. To convert the longer vision into implementable policy and action, a 7-year strategy from 2017-18 was to be formulated as part of the National Development Agenda . Three-year
framework from 2017-18 to 2019-20 was aligned to predictability of financial resources during the 14th Finance Commission award period.