New Delhi, Aug 19 IANS | 3 months ago

In keeping with his philosophy of having a more participatory government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited ideas from the people on how to replace 64-year-old Planning Commission with an institution that can best serve India's governance needs in the 21st Century.

"Inviting you to share your ideas on what shape the new institution to replace the Planning Commission can take," Modi tweeted Tuesday on the site www.mygov.nic.in, which he intends as an interface between his government and the people, four days after he said in his Independence Day speech that the existing institution had lost relevance today.

"We envision the proposed Institution as one that caters to the aspirations of the 21st century India and strengthens participation of the states," said his tweet, reflecting on the basic idea that he has for the new body.

"A special Open Forum has been created on MyGov for suggestions on the new Institution. Let the ideas flow!"

Modi had promised Aug 15 to announce "a new institution with a new spirit" soon in the place of the old centralised model of Planning Commission, of which the prime minister is chairman, since he felt it had outlived its utility given the challenges India faces today.

He said the importance of federalism was growing and institutions needed to address such reality. "This is a good thing (growing import of federal structure). We must strengthen it," he said, adding: "Times have changed from the era Planning Commission was created."

Modi's new forum has invited ideas for a new name, logo and tagline for the institution, and says: "Attractive prizes will be awarded to the winning entry. The PM will himself recognize the winning entry on social media forums."

The last date is Aug 25, but within hours of its launch, responses have started flowing.

"Central Bureau of Excellence", "National Development Authority of India", "National Commission for Development and Reforms", "Bharat Nirman Aayog", "Rasthriya Vikas Seva Commission" and "National Developing Commission India" are among the suggestions.

The Planning Commission was conceived by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who thought India's goals and objectives can be best addressed with a planned economy, an idea he borrowed from the then Soviet Union. Accordingly, it was formed March 15, 1950, and with it were born the Five Year Plans from 1951 onward.

These five year plans were disrupted a few times by the India-Pakistan war and drought. Currently, the plan panel is overseeing the 12th such plan, 2012-17.

The panel's redundancy was also the conclusion of the Independent Evaluation Office set up by the commission itself under Ajay Chibber, a Stanford-educated former assistant secretary general of the United Nations.

"It is clear the Planning Commission in its current form and function is a hindrance and not a help to India's development," said the report which became quite controversial as some said it had exceeded its brief.

"It is not easy to reform such a large ossified body. It would be better to replace it with a new body that is needed to assist states in ideas, to provide long-term thinking and to help cross-cutting reforms," it said.

"Since the Planning Commission has defied attempts to reform it to bring it in line with the needs of a modern economy and the trend of empowering the states, it is proposed that the Commission be abolished," it said.

Incidentally, the report was submitted to Modi May 29, three days after his inauguration as prime minister.

(Posted on 19-08-2014)

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