Growth Is Just 3 percent of What We Should Be Focusing On: Montek Ahluwalia
New Delhi, 05 February, 2010 –Planning is no longer viewed as a government activity but an inclusive process where the voices of many should be heard, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission said at the conclusion of a two-day national consultation here today. Speaking at the People’s Mid-Term Appraisal of the 11th Five-Year Plan, he said: “The 11th Five-Year Plan has shifted the focus away from purely concentrating on growth, as increasing the country’s growth rate amounted to only three percent of the total number of things we should be focusing on.” Agreeing with civil-society representatives, he added: “While progress has been made, this is not enough. “ He called on participants to not simply focus on the Planning Commission but also on increasing awareness across states and putting greater pressure on the state governments to deliver social services envisioned by the Plan. Dr. Ahluwalia was responding to a range of recommendations emerging out of a nationwide consultative exercise, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to assess from a people's perspective, the performance of the Plan in achieving development objectives.
The initiative involved over 3,000 women and men, especially from marginalised communities, and was undertaken by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, the National Social Watch Coalition and the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan . Pieter Bult, Deputy Country Director, UNDP highlighted that India is faced with twin challenges of nature of disparities and scale of disparities. “To highlight disparities between states, UNDP India and the Planning Commission have been advocating a human development approach to state planning through state human development reports and today 15 states regularly report on human development and gender concerns which has resulted in the 11t Plan recommending the preparation of human development reports at district levels as well,” he said. This unique mid-term appraisal comes as the Planning Commission evaluates the progress of the 11th Five-Year Plan in meeting a range of targets.
A key concern raised by participants was the slow progress made in improving India’s performance vis-à-vis social indicators. N.C. Saxena, former secretary, Planning Commission pointed out that growth and social indicators are not moving in tandem. “While roughly 3.5 lakh crores are given to states, translating into Rs. 100 a day, it is evident this continues to evade a majority of the poor with close to 23 percent of the poorest not even having a ration card. Strengthening our monitoring mechanisms, linking funds to performance and strengthening the role of the Panchayats in governance is critical,” he said. Other speakers at the two-day consultation included, Javed Abidi, Director, National Centre for the Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, Paul Divakar, Convener, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Amitabh Kundu, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Kavita Srivastava, Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and social activist Souparna Lahiri. Commenting on the appraisal, Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission said it had helped “ensure the Commission’s own mid-term appraisal process remains alive and the views of people seep into the 12th Five-Year Plan process. She was joined by several other members of the Planning Commission including Arun Maira, Mihir Shah and Abhijit Sen. Sessions at the event which featured participation from 28 states across India.
Should you be interested in knowing more about this project, several of our colleagues – Yamini Mishra (Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability), Amitabh Behara (Wada Na Todo Abhiyan) and NC Saxena (former Secretary, Planning Commission) would be happy to discuss this initiative with you further.