Right after independence, India inherited a weak economy, with little or no infrastructure and a largely capitalistic social order which meant that economic benefits were concentrated in very few hands.
So, systematic planning was imperative to remove poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, unemployment and other socio-economic evils.
The Planning Commission was set up in 1950 which churned out the first Five Year Plan in 1951. These plans were to have well defined targets to reach in five years.
The 10th Five Year Plan:
The 10th five year plan spanned from 2002 to 2007. As the Planning Commission is invariably headed by the Prime Minister, noted economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh chaired the commission through most of it. The salient objectives were to attain 8% growth rate of the Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) per year, reduction of poverty rate by 5% by the end of 2007, bridging gender gaps in education, making uniform wage rates for men and women, ensuring that the people recruited in the time period of the plan had access to profitable enterprises and increasing the scope of the Public Distribution System (P.D.S.) so that it would guarantee food security to the better part of the population. The plan also targeted successful conversion of most Public Sector Enterprises to private enterprises, especially ones which were no longer profitable. Another initiative in the social sector was to ensure primary education to each and every child across the length and breadth of the nation. The cost estimated or total outlay was somewhere around Rs. 44,000 crores.
Performance of the Plan:
The total targeted growth estimated at 8.1% saw an actual growth of 7.7%, which is commendable. However growth of the industrial sector was only 5.4% against the 7.1%, estimated. The growth rate of G.D.P. was also not as expected. It was only 5.9%. Literacy rate increased from 66% to 72% but the gender inequalities in education could not be erased totally. Also, as announced, every child did not have access to education. P.D.S. did not quite serve its purpose which led to the Food Security Bill in 2013.
A planned economy is the best to attain goals of development. However, in India the level of corruption and inequalities is so stark that even after herculean efforts nothing seems to be right in place. The need of the hour is absolute commitment from everyone in the economy, to make it developed and fair.