In this module historical perspective of planning in India, our main focus would be to
study the history of planning in India and see how the process of planning developed its
roots in the country. In this module we will see that how planning in India gradually
evolved and institutionalized in the form of the Planning Commission and the National
Development Council. After that we will study different phases of planning in India, i.e. the first three Five Year Plans, Rolling Plans, and Plans after adopting New Economic
Policy. We will look at how the Indian state took up this challenge of rapid growth in
adverse circumstances. We will also see the aims and objectives of various plans and
their achievements over the time.
After going through this unit the learners will be able to:
1. Understand the growth and development of Indian planning system over a period
2. Identify major initiatives taken for development through five year planning in
3. Identify the socio economic and political dimensions of planning in India.
4. Differentiate between the planning system in pre independence and after
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: TOWARDS THE WELFARE STATE
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
TOWARDS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PLANNING COMMISION
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
In September, 1939, a serious political crisis took place resulting in resignation by all
provincial Governments in eight States ‘en bloc.’ All the National leaders were kept in
jails. All the plans and schemes were shelved for the time being and between 1940- 45,
the committee had only a nominal existence. In 1945 when the leaders were released,steps were taken to revive the committee and new instructions were issued for bringing
its reports up to date. The National Planning committee could not hold formal meeting in
the following months though most of the sub committees submitted their respective
reports. Thus the work of the committee came to an end. During this period, a separate
department of Planning and Development was established with Sir Ardeshir Dalal as a
member in charge. Panels were constituted for the development of basic and important
consumer goods industries. Similarly, post Second World War committee was constituted
under the chairmanship of Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar.
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
GANDHIAN PLAN (1944)
Gandhian Plan which based upon Gandhian philosophy was put forward by Shri S.N.
Agarwal of Wardha. The outlay of the plan was estimated Rs. 3500 crores only and it
sought to set up a decentralized economy with self sufficient villages and Industrial
production. It laid emphasis on small scale industries and agriculture. But its scheme of
financing was unsound. This plan was criticized as inconsistent and insufficient.
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.
POST WAR RECONSTRUCTION (1941- 46)
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
ADVISORY PLANNING BOARD (1946)
The interim Government was installed on 24th August, 1946 and the Advisory Planning
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
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.
For future Planning organizations, the Board suggested the setting up of single compact
organization. As regard the composition of the Planning Commission it was
recommended that the Chairman should be a senior minister, holding no portfolio. No minister should be a member of the Planning Commission and that it should be, as far as
possible, a non political Commission consisting of five members.
It also recommended a consultative body of 25 to 30 members which would meet half
yearly or quarterly to advice on problems and receive progress reports. Its
recommendations were feasible and reasonable but still it also suffered from limitations.
After independence the plan became inadequate as a result of the changed social and
economic conditions due to partition. Even then its recommendations on techniques
were supposed to be worthwhile.
PLANNING FROM INDEPENDENCE TILL THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PLANNING
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.
PLANNING COMMISSION (1950)
India has adopted a path of development, which is known as Socialist Path and Mixed
Economy, On the one hand, India has encouraged private business and industry and on
the other it has almost full control, at least in principle, over all the major
entrepreneurial and business activities. The Planning Commission was set up by a
Resolution of the Government of India in March 1950 in pursuance of declared objectives
of the Government to promote a rapid rise in the standard of living of the people by
efficient exploitation of the resources of the country, increasing production and offering
opportunities to all for employment in the service of the community. The Planning
Commission was charged with the responsibility of making assessment of all resources of
the country, augmenting deficient resources, formulating plans for the most effective and balanced utilization of resources and determining priorities. It was entrusted with
the work of economic and social development as envisaged in the preamble, the
fundamental rights as well as Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution
THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL (1952)
It is the apex body for decision making and deliberations on development matters
in India, presided over by the Prime Minister. It was set up on 6 August 1952 to
strengthen and mobilize the effort and resources of the nation in support of the Plan, to
promote common economic policies in all vital spheres, and to ensure the balanced and
rapid development of all parts of the country. The Council comprises the Prime Minister,
the Union Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers of all States or their substitutes,
representatives of the Union Territories and the members of the Planning Commission. It
is an extra-constitutional and non-statutory body.
INDIAN FIVE YEAR PLANNING
The first Five-year Plan was launched in 1951 and two subsequent five-year plans were
formulated till 1965, when there was a break because of the Indo-Pakistan Conflict. Two
successive years of drought, devaluation of the currency, a general rise in prices and
erosion of resources disrupted the planning process and after three Annual Plans
between 1966 and 1969, the fourth Five-year plan was started in 1969. The central
importance assigned to the public sector was assigned was first articulated in the
Industrial Policy Resolution in 1956.and subsequently documented in the second five
year plan in 1956.
The Eighth Plan could not take off in 1990 due to the fast changing political situation at
the Centre and the years 1990-91 and 1991-92 were treated as Annual Plans. The
Eighth Plan was finally launched in 1992 after the initiation of structural adjustment
For the first eight Plans the emphasis was on a growing public sector with massive
investments in basic and heavy industries, but since the launch of the Ninth Plan in
1997, the emphasis on the public sector has become less pronounced and the current
thinking on planning in the country, in general, is that it should increasingly be of an
SUMMARY OF FIVE YEAR PLANS
(1969 - 74)
Target Growth: 5.7%
Actual Growth: 3.30%
Slogan of “Garbi Hatao” was given in 1971
Emphasis was on growth rate of agriculture to enable other
sectors to move forward.
First two years of the plan saw record production. The last three
years did not measure up due to poor monsoon.
Influx of Bangladeshi refugees before and after 1971 Indo-Pak
war was an important issue
Target Growth: 4.4%
Actual Growth: 3.8
The fifth plan was prepared and launched by D.D. Dhar.
It proposed to achieve two main objectives: 'removal of poverty'
(Garibi Hatao) and 'attainment of self reliance'
Promotion of high rate of growth, better distribution of income
and significant growth in the domestic rate of savings were seen
as key instruments.
The plan was terminated in 1978 (instead of 1979) when Janta
Party Govt. rose to power
(1978 - 80)
There were 2 Sixth Plans. Janta Govt. put forward a plan for
1978-1983. However, the government lasted for only 2 years.
Congress Govt. returned to power in 1980 and launched a different plan.
technology, ensuring continuous decrease in poverty and unemployment, population control through family planning, etc.
Target Growth: 5.0%
Actual Growth: 6.01%
Focus - rapid growth in food-grains production, increased
employment opportunities and productivity within the framework
of basic tenants of planning.
First time private sector got the priority over public sector
The plan was very successful, the economy recorded 6% growth
rate against the targeted 5%.
1990-91 were the key issues during the launch of the plan.
economic situation and to undertake an annual average growth
were rapid economic growth, high growth of agriculture and
allied sector, and manufacturing sector, growth in exports and
imports, improvement in trade and current account deficit.
Target Growth: 6.5%
Actual Growth: 5.35%
Aim was “Growth with Social Justice”
It was developed in the context of four important dimensions:
Quality of life, generation of productive employment, regional
balance and self-reliance.
To achieve 8.1% GDP growth rate
Reduction of poverty ratio by 5 percentage points by 2007.
Providing gainful high quality employment to the addition to the
labour force over the tenth plan period.
Ensure direct and indirect beneficiaries of all government
schemes are women and girl children
Connect every village by telephone and provide broadband
connectivity to all villages
Attain WHO standards of air quality in all major cities by 2011-12.
Increase energy efficiency by 20 percentage points by 2016-17.
(2012 - 2017)
Target Growth :8%
Twelfth Plan focuses “Faster and more Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”.
Poverty rate to be reduced by 10% than the rate at the end of11th plan.
End gender gap and social gap in school enrollment.
Reduce under nutrition of children in age group 0-3 to half of NFHS-3 levels.
Increase green cover by 1 million hectare every year.
Increase renewable energy during Five Year Period.