What will be Modi’s Planning “Reforms” Commission?

bibek-debroy 300If Modi’s 2013 tirade against Planning Commission is recalled, he had got over one year to mull over and plan for the ultimate push out of the Nehruvian “Planning Commission.” Modeled on the Communist Soviet Russia’s similar body, India’s chief economic planning body that has seen the participation of PC Mahalanobis, Jagdish Bhagwati, Sukhamoy Chakraborty, Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh and several others , and won the appreciation of Oskar Lange, Mikhail Kalecki, Milton Friedman and several others, could be replaced with a body modeled on another communist nation, China’s Development and Reforms Commission.

Chief grouse with the Planning Commission in the recent times has been with the funds allocation to states. Modi now plans to deploy the duty with the Finance ministry. In an economy where development is driven equally by the private industry, the onus of driving development with a body like Planning Commission has been derided since long as ‘unrealistic.’ That is why, Modi wants to change the body into a “Reforms Commission” model.

suresh-prabhuEconomic Times has published a report indicating that the new body could have a five member panel. Former union minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to head the body, with economists Arvind Panagariya, Bibek Debroy sure to feature, with at least two other experts -from science and technology and social sciences backgrounds occupying other places. A panel of experts from other areas could also be set up to advise the panel from time to time.

arvind-panagariyaThe focus of the new body should be on development and not just on financial planning, felt several experts, without such dimensional shift, the new body would just be a “old wine in new bottle,” said former PC secretary NC Saxena. A truly federal body with experts with keen understanding of development in a modern, public-private driven economy is the right replacement for the defunct, politically representational, geriatric Planning Commission, say observers.

Medaram Jathara

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