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Time to start VRS with Planning Commission

Gyanendra Keshri, Executive Editor, INCLUSION

The Planning Commission has 31 technical divisions. These include divisions on agriculture, health, rural development, communications and information technology.

There has been lull at the Yojana Bhawan since the Modi Government was sworn into office on the 26th of May. Nearly 1,200 people, who are employed at the Planning Commission and its attached offices, have hardly any productive work.

In his first Independence Day address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Commission would be replaced with a new institution bearing a new design and structure. The new entity is yet to be named and there is no clarity on what its shape and contours might be.

Some eminent personalities from the fields of politics, economics, academia, and the media met at Yojana Bhawan on August 26th - exactly three months after the new government was formed - to deliberate on the new institution.

However, uncertainty still looms large over the fate of the nearly 1,200 people associated with the Planning Commission. Whatever form the government chooses to give it, it will and must have fresh people with fresh ideas.  

Clearly, these 1,200-odd people employed at the Yojana Bhawan are unlikely to be gainfully employed for much longer as the work they specialise in, has ceased to be productive in today’s political economy. Therefore, it might be time to look at the issue pragmatically and deploy a realistic solution such as the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). Surely, a sizable number of the people in question will opt for the VRS.

The Planning Commission should mark the beginning of closing down such unproductive organs of the government. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the institutions like the Planning Commission are burdens on the exchequer. The government must streamline resources to more productive organs and downsize or scrap the segments that are an unjustifiable burden on the exchequer.

The Planning Commission has 31 technical divisions. These include divisions on agriculture, health, family welfare and nutrition, rural development, communications and information technology. All of them have separate departments in ministries. Clearly, the creation of such technical divisions was a duplication of what could or should have been done by the respective ministries and departments themselves.

The Commission also has some attached offices like the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) and Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDAI). While the PMEAC is likely to be dismantled, UIDAI could function as a separate entity.     

It’s not just the Planning Commission, there is need for restructuring of several other government entities and departments. The departments and ministries where there is a scope for sizable downsizing include the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and several entities linked to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Agriculture. 



Dr. P.K. Chaubey, Professor of Economics, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi

One does not really understand why did we have ministerial replicas in the Planning Commission
In the beginning there was some overlap like one division of Financial Resources but we started out with Perspective Planning division and Programme Evaluation Organisation but later every ministry had its counterpart in the Planning Commission.
Still later, Secretaries and Additional Secretaries were heads of working groups and meetings were held in Ministries, not in the Commission. Ministries in certain cases forked out work to other institutions. Collection and compilation became the job of the Planning Commission with so good MEMBERS!
Then these 'selected' people set on a lot of money and humiliated elected CMs. It is good that it is now desolved.

R.K.Bhasin, Joint Director (Projects), ASSOCHAM

It is the right suggestion and Govt. needs to announce the VRS scheme without any delay.

(Gyanendra Keshri can be reached at gyanendra@skoch.in)

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