One of the major hallmarks of Narendra Modi during the days when he was on the road to become the next prime minister of India was his immense capability to provide captivating speeches. When Modi delivered his first speech as India’s PM on the Independence Day he once again was able to wow everyone in attendance with lots of promises, all of which were made with one intent and one intent only – to make India a smarter and thus more effective and upgraded country.
Modi provides route map for development in Independence Day speech
One of the main components of Modi’s extempore speech was financial inclusion, something which according to his critics, had been lacking in the recent budget. During his speech he also made it known that he would like to develop model villages in each and every block across the country. Hygiene, over the years, has been a major issue for this south Asian country – in fact one of the abiding images of India is people defecating in the open and dirt lying beside streets and rail lines. Modi sought to deal with this issue as well by stating that he wishes to build latrines across the country with a special focus on the schools.
This was also perhaps one of the occasions that India saw the presence of several diplomats from other countries on the Independence Day. Modi also used this opportunity to ask for help from the members of SAARC in order to eradicate the widespread poverty in India. Modi also chose to do away with the bullet proof glass that has traditionally accompanied Indian prime ministers while making Independence Day speeches.
Government decides to scrap Planning Commission
In his Independence Day speech, Modi said the Planning Commission will be scrapped and replaced with a new body. This has set off criticism that it is rather a dangerous precedent. The people who have been following the government’s progress keenly would like it to do well having been voted to power by them in the first place. The way judges are appointed in India has already been changed and now the Planning Commission that has over the years played a stellar role in economic development has been abolished, it has been pointed out.
Reacting to the new development, the Congress party has said the Planning Commission has its own advantages and it should not be scrapped.
While it may not always have been successful as far as receiving appreciation is concerned the Planning Commission was definitely a platform for reviewing existing economic programmes and policies and for forming new ones. Now with the abolition of this body, one feels that such things could very well become a thing of the past. This is even more important because of the fact that a large chunk of their policies are related to the economically depressed classes as well as tribals who still face a certain degree of social deprivation. One also needs to take cognizance of the fact that the Planning Commission had always made an effort to make sure that plans and programmes were created in such a way that Indian economy could stand up to the challenges of a rapidly developing world.
However, it needs to be kept in mind that the Planning Commission was one of the vestiges of the Nehruvian era, modelled on the erstwhile Soviet Union’s Gosplan, which created the public sector in India to fund and plan development.
The new government feels that with the market-economy taking over in the changing times, this bureaucratic appendage should no more be deciding fund allocation for state and Central schemes. The Finance Ministry is enough.
At present it has around 30 divisions where 109 senior officials are working along with 800 other staff members. The commission never had any legal or constitutional power as such. Official sources have revealed that the staff will be distributed in other departments.
New body to replace Planning Commission
Modi has stated that a new body will be created in place of the Planning Commission to deal with the new economic challenges being faced by India and also make its federal structure stronger. This will perhaps imply that the new body has a larger area of responsibility considering the fact that the scrapped body dealt primarily with economic affairs.
This was a late development and already has the approval of Modi. The new body is going to be named NDRC or National Development and Reforms Commission. It is also being stated that the economic advisory council to the Prime Minister will be done away with as well and consequently included in NDRC.
It is expected that NDRC shall be working under the department of expenditure of the national government and one of its major areas of responsibility will be to deal with the funds meant for the state governments as well as Indian government. It will approve funds earmarked for these entities. The NDRC shall have 8 members and will be led by the Prime Minister himself. Other than that it will have members from various corporate entities as well as finance ministers from different states. The finance ministers will be taken on a rotational basis.
In fact, after assuming office Modi had sought a report on the efficiency of various government programmes and schemes. That report had recommended that the Planning Commission be done away with. One feels that this decision was perhaps in line with the said recommendation.
The economic policies of Modi administration have already attracted a fair degree of censure from various circles for the lack of better planning for the benefit for the economically backward classes. In order to realize his dream of a modern defence set-up, Modi has sacrificed key areas such as agriculture and education in the budget. While there is no harm in making the defence stronger and the country more modern, Modi needs to remember the common people who have been with him through thick and thin, especially the ones who have been dreaming of a better life.