Historical evolution of planning in India


In India, the significance of planning was recognized even before independence. Various ideological perspectives were brought to influence on the efforts made at plan formulation by a few individuals and institutions. Socio economic Planning has been one of the most noteworthy inventions of the twentieth century. Even before independence the nation was conscious about the significance of planned development. Prominent public men like Dadabhai Naoroji (1825 – 1917), M. C. Ranade, (1842-1901), R. G. Dutt (1848 – 1909) wrote extensively on the social and economic problems of the Indians. During the long period of India’s struggle for freedom, the concern for the problems of mass poverty, protection of the farmer and the artisan, the need for industrialization and, the reconstruction of the entire fabric of social and economic life. Almost all the national leaders looked upon political freedom primary as the means to solve these fundamental problems. To Mahatma Gandhi freedom was not merely a political goal but a pre requisite for relieving the masses from poverty and stagnation. The social and economic aims of the struggle for freedom came to be precisely defined during nineteen thirties.

Starting from the Soviet experiment in 1928, planning slowly swept over almost two third of the entire world. During 1930s the whole world was affected by great depression, only USSR was exempted from effects of this great depression. It was because of their planning after that whole world was attracted towards USSR because of its planning. Later on the resolutions of the Indian National Congress from 1929 onwards stressed the need for the revolutionary changes in the present economic structure of society and removal of great inequalities in order to remove poverty and improve the economic and social conditions of the masses. First systematic work came into existence e in the year 1934 when the renowned engineer and statesman M. Visvesvaraya formulated a ten year plan for economic development of the country in his book “Planned Economy for India.” On the other hand the Government of India Act – 1935, introduced provincial autonomy which led to the formation of Congress Government in eight provinces. In August 1937 the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution suggesting the committee of inter provincial experts to consider urgent and vital problems, the solution of which is necessary to any scheme of national reconstruction and social planning.


National Planning Committee(1938)

Planning, was first initiated in India in 1938 by Congress President and Indian National Army supreme leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose ,later on Jawaharlal Nehru was made head of the National Planning Committee. This was followed by the formulation of National Planning Committee consisting of fifteen members, in a memorandum, the Committee emphasized that the national independence is an indispensable primary condition for taking all the steps that might be found necessary for carrying out the plan in all its various aspects. The setting up by the Indian National Congress of a National Planning Committee towards the end of 1938 – nine years before independence – highlighted both the importance of social and economic objectives as also need to profit from the experience of planned development through national plans elsewhere. The National Planning Committee appointed several sub committees to study different aspects of the national economy. It was the first attempt on the part of the people of India to examine the fundamental economic problems and draw up co – ordinate plan for upliftment of the people.


The Bombay Plan (1944)

In the early 1944, several eminent industrialists and economists of Bombay Sir Purshottamdas Thakurdas, Mr. J.R.D. Tata and six others made another attempt and published a development plan, which was called Bombay plan. Its main purpose was to stimulate the thinking of the people and to lay down the principles on the basis of which a national plan could be formulated and executed. The planners observed that the plan set out in it is neither in any sense a complete scheme nor as comprehensive as that of the National Planning committee. The central aim of the plan was to raise the national income to such a level that after meeting the minimum requirements of every individual we would be left with enough resources for the enjoyment of life and for cultural activities.” Thus its objective was at doubling the per capita income in the country over a period of 15 years. It proposed the increase of about 130 per cent and 500 percent, in agriculture and industry respectively. The total outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores was recommended. The planners believed that this could be achieved only by reducing the overwhelming predominance of agriculture and by establishing a balanced economy. This plan was the systematic scheme of economic planning which made the country plan-minded. Its major shortcoming was of maintenance of a capitalist order and giving step-motherly treatment to agriculture sector.


People’s Plan (1945)

Another plan was prepared by the late M.N. Roy (a ten year plan) called the ‘People Plan.’ It was different from the Bombay plan in methodology and priorities. Its chief emphasis was on agricultural and consumer goods industries through collectivization and setting up of sate owned industrialization. The total outlay was of Rs. 15000 crores. It also advocated the nationalization of land. The plan was ambitious as it could not properly mobilize the resources. Therefore, it was totally impracticable.


Gandhian Plan

This plan was drafted by Sriman Nayaran, principal of Wardha Commercial College. It emphasized the economic decentralization with primacy to rural development by developing the cottage industries.


Sarvodaya Plan

Sarvodaya Plan (1950) was drafted by Jaiprakash Narayan. This plan itself was inspired by Gandhian Plan and Sarvodaya Idea of Vinoba Bhave. This plan emphasized on agriculture and small & cottage industries. It also suggested the freedom from foreign technology and stressed upon land reforms and decentralized participatory planning.


Post War Construction (1941- 1946)

The government of India seriously considered the plans for the post war reconstruction during June, 1941and appointed a reconstruction committee of the cabinet with Viceroy as Chairman and the members of the Executive Council as Members. In June, 1944 Planning and Development Department was created under a separate member of the Executive Council for organizing the planning work in the country. To assist the department, there was a Planning and Development Board consisting of Secretaries of economic department. It suggested to State Governments that special priority should be given to schemes for training technical personnel. In 1946 the work of planning had practically been completed and the department of planning and development was abolished.


Advisory Planning Board (1946)

The interim Government was installed on 24th August, 1946 and the Advisory Planning Board. The Board submitted its report in January, 1947. Its major recommendations were: a) The increase in production that is essential could be secured only through a well considered plan. b) There must be control on the use of energy sources, control over distribution and price and as well leases and sub leases. c) Mineral rights in the permanently settled areas in Bengal and Bihar should be acquired by the state.


Before The establishment of Planning Commission :

At the down of the 15th August, 1947, India was free from the British Imperial Rule. The Constitution of India came into force on 26th January 1950. The Constitution contained certain ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’, which, though not enforceable through the court of law but were regarded but were regarded as fundamental to the governance of the country. The working Committee of the Congress Party passed a comprehensive resolution on planned economy for the country and the appointment of the Planning Commission. The resolution states “ The need for a comprehensive plan has become a matter of compelling urgency in India now owing to the ravages of Second World War and the economic and political consequences of the partition of the country which followed in the wake of achievement of freedom and steady worsening of the economic situation in India and the World. ” Thus the National Planning Commission was established on 15th March, 1950.