The functions of the erstwhile Planning Commission included the following:
It should be noted that the erstwhile Planning Commission was only a staff agency—an advisory body and had no executive responsibility. It was not responsible for taking and implementing decisions. This responsibility rested with the Central and State Governments.
The following points can be noted in context of the composition (membership) of the erstwhile Planning Commission:
The erstwhile Planning Commission had the following three organs:
The technical divisions were the major functional units of the erstwhile Planning Commission. They were mainly concerned with plan formulation, plan monitoring and plan evaluation. These fell under two broad categories, that is, general divisions (concerned with aspects of the entire economy) and subject divisions (concerned with specified fields of development).
The erstwhile Planning Commission had the following housekeeping branches:
The post of programme advisors were created in the erstwhile Planning Commission in 1952 to act as a link between the erstwhile Planning Commission and the states of Indian Union in the field of planning.
The internal organisation of the erstwhile Planning Commission had dual hierarchy—administrative and technical. The administrative hierarchy was headed by the Secretary of the erstwhile Planning Commission who was assisted by Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries and other administrative and clerical staff. These functionaries were drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Revenue Service, Central Secretariat Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service and the other non-technical Central services.
The technical hierarchy, on the other hand, was headed by the Advisor who was assisted by Chiefs, Directors, Joint Directors and other technical staff. These functionaries were drawn from the Indian Economic Service, Indian Statistical Service, Central Engineering Service and other Central technical services. The Advisor was head of the technical division and enjoyed the rank of either an Additional Secretary or a Joint Secretary.
Programme Evaluation Organisation
The Programme Evaluation Organisation (PEO) was established in 1952 as an independent unit of the erstwhile Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog). However, it functions under the general guidance and direction of the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog).
The PEO is headed by a Director / Chief who is assisted by Joint Directors, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors and other staff.
The PEO has seven regional offices at Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Kolkata. Each regional evaluation office of PEO is headed by a Deputy Director.
The PEO undertakes an assessment of the implementation of development programmes and plans as contained in Five-Year Plans to provide, from time to time, feedback to the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) and executive agencies. It also provides technical advice to state evaluation organisations.
On February 23, 2015, it was reported that the PEO is expected to undergo a major revamp under the NITI Aayog as the government will soon move a cabinet note proposing sweeping changes in the structure and function of the PEO.
The erstwhile Planning Commission was originally established as a staff agency with advisory role but in the course of time it had emerged as a powerful and directive authority whereby its recommendations were considered both by the Union and states. The critics had described it as a ‘Super Cabinet’, an ‘Economic Cabinet’, a ‘Parallel Cabinet’, the ‘Fifth Wheel of the Coach’ and so on.
The following observations were made on the domineering role played by the erstwhile Planning Commission.
On the 1st of January, 2016, it was reported that the Modi government is also going to abolish the National Development Council (NDC) and transfer its powers to the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog. However, till now (August 2016), such a resolution has not been passed.
It must also be noted here that the last meeting (57th) of the NDC was held on the 27th of December, 2012 to approve the 12th Plan (2012-2017).
The National Development Council (NDC) was established in August 1952 by an executive resolution of the Government of India on the recommendation of the First Five Year Plan (draft outline). Like the erstwhile Planning Commission. It is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body.
The NDC is composed of the following members.
The NDC was established with the following objectives.
To realise the above objectives, the NDC is assigned with the following functions:
Therefore, the NDC is the highest body, below the Parliament, responsible for policy matters with regard to planning for social and economic development. However, it is listed as an advisory body to the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) and its recommendations are not binding. It makes its recommendations to the Central and state governments and should meet at least twice every year.
The first and foremost function of NDC is to act as a bridge and link between the Central Government, the State Governments and the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) especially in the field of planning, to bring about coordination of policies and programmes of plans. It has been, to a large extent successful in this regard. Besides, it has also served as a forum for Centre-State deliberations on matters of national importance, and also as a device for sharing responsibility between them in the federal political system.
However, two diametrically opposite views have been expressed on its working. On one hand, it has been described as a ‘Super Cabinet’ due to its wide and powerful composition, though its recommendations are only advisory and not binding, and can hardly be ignored as they are backed by a national mandate. On the other hand, it has been described as a mere ‘rubber stamp’ of the policy decisions already taken by the Union government. This is mainly due to the Congress Party rule both at the Centre and states for a
long period. However, due to the emergence of regional parties in various states, the NDC is steadily acquiring its federal character and thus providing a greater say to the states in the preparation of national plans.
The following observations are made by eminent people on the working of NDC: