New Delhi: Seeking to strengthen cooperative federalism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that states must have a greater role in the new body which will replace the existing Planning Commission.
The process of policy planning also has to change from “top to bottom” and “bottom to top”, he said, stressing that it was impossible for the nation to develop unless states develop.
Mr. Modi said this in his remarks at the meeting with Chief Ministers, convened to discuss the structure of the new body which would replace the Planning Commission.
The meeting was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and chief ministers with the exception of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Mr. Modi said the replacement to the Planning Commission must incorporate the concept of “Team India”, which according to him, was a combination of three teams — the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers; the Union Council of Ministers; and the bureaucracy in the Centre and states.
The states should have a key role in the new body, Modi said, adding “states sometimes feel there is no platform to express their views...there should be an effective mechanism to address inter—state disputes.”
“Can we develop a new mechanism, that plans according to India’s strengths, empowers states, and brings on board all economic activity, including that which happens outside the government,” the Prime Minister asked, as he set the tone for the discussion.
Later, Mr. Modi described the meeting as “fruitful” saying that all Chief Ministers had offered significant suggestions.
Recalling the remarks of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was associated for a long time with the Planning Commission, he said Dr. Singh himself had noted that the body has no futuristic vision in the post—reform period.
Dr. Singh, he added, also wanted the Planning Commission to reinvent itself to remain more effective and relevant in the present situation.
Invoking the spirit of “cooperative federalism”, the Prime Minister said the current global scenario offered a chance for India to take a big leap forward.
This, he added, was possible by formulating a suitable replacement to the Commission with a view to suitably harnessing the strengths of the country.
The Prime Minister said the role, relevance and restructuring of the Planning Commission had been repeatedly questioned for more than two decades.
The first introspection was done after the launch of economic reforms in 1992 when it was felt that in the light of changing Government policy a different approach was required, he said.
Even in 2012, the Parliamentary Consultative Committee stressed the need for a serious look at the Planning Commission and the need for a new body to replace it.
The Prime Minister further said that development was now a priority for all, and the time has come to develop a new mechanism to deliver growth and development.
Mr. Modi also noted that in countries such as the USA, think tanks that function independently of the government have a major role in policy-making.
In India too, he added, there is a great deal of economic activity that happens outside the government set-up, and there is a need to design policies for them as well.
Mr. Modi further said that inputs provided by Chief Ministers would help in shaping the structure of the new body to replace the Planning Commission.