The Planning Commission was established in March 1950 by an executive resolution of the Government of India, on the recommendation of Advisory Planning Board constituted in 1946, under the chairmanship of K C Neogi.The Planning Commission is neither a constitutional body nor a statutory body. Scholars also call it as a non-constitutional body as it was not created by the Constitution and a non statutory body as it was not created by an act of parliament. Till the end of 2014 it is the supreme organ of planning for social and economic development.

     

The composition of the Commission has undergone considerable changes since its inception. With the Prime Minister as the ex officio Chairman, the committee has a nominated Deputy Chairman, who is given the rank of a full Cabinet Minister. Presently, the post of Deputy Chairman of the Commission is vacant.Cabinet Ministers with certain important portfolios, act as ex officio members of the Commission, while the full-time members are experts of various fields like economics, industry, science and general administration.

 

The present ex officio members of the Commission, are the Finance Minister, Agriculture Minister, Home Minister, Health Minister, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Information Technology Minister, Law Minister, HRD Minister and Minister of State for Planning.A majority of the experts in the Commission are economists, making the Commission the biggest employer of the Indian Economic Services.The Commission works through its various divisions, of which there are two kinds:

Personnel

It has dual hierarchy- administrative and technical. The administrative division is headed by seceratary of the planning commission who is assisted by joint secretaries, deputy secretaries.On the other hand, technical hierarchy is headed by Advisor, who is assisted by Chief Directors, Joint Directors, and other technical staff.

 

Pragramme Evaluation Organisation (PEO)

PEO is an independent organisation but it works under The Planning Commission, it has a separate Director as head. It has several regional offices in different cities of the country.The PEO undertakes an assessment of the implementation of development programmes and plans as contained in Five Year Plans to provide, from time to time, feedback to the planning commission and executive agencies. It also provides technical advice to state evaluation organisations.Planning Commission comprises of Technical Divisions, Housekeeping Branches, Programme Advisors.

 

Technical Division

It is the major functional division of planning commission. It is mainly concerned with plan formulation, plan monitoring and plan evaluation.

 

Housekeeping Division

Housekeeping has following branches:

  • General administration branch.
  • Establishment branch.
  • Vigilance branch.
  • Accounts branch.
  • Personal training branch.
 

Programme Advisors

The post of planning commission was created in year 1952 to act as a link between the planning commission and the states of Indian Union in the field of planning. They help the planning commission in the implementation of development programmes and advice planning commission on the proposals received from states for their five year plans. They also keep union ministers updated about the schemes.

 

Functions

The Planning Commission's functions as outlined by the Government's 1950 resolution as follows

  • To make an assessment of the material, capital and human resources of the country, including technical personnel, and investigate the possibilities of augmenting those are related resources which are found to be deficient in relation to the nation's requirement.
  • To formulate a plan for the most effective and balanced utilisation of country's resources.
  • To define the stages, on the basis of priority, in which the plan should be carried out and propose the allocation of resources for the due completion of each stage.
  • To indicate the factors that tend to retard economic development.
  • To determine the conditions which need to be established for the successful execution of the plan within the incumbent socio-political situation of the country.
  • To determine the nature of the machinery required for securing the successful implementation of each stage of the plan in all its aspects.
  • To appraise from time to time the progress achieved in the execution of each stage of the plan and also recommend the adjustments of policy and measures which are deemed important vis-a-vis a successful implementation of the plan.
  • To make necessary recommendations from time to time regarding those things which are deemed necessary for facilitating the execution of these functions. 
 

Such recommendations can be related to the prevailing economic conditions, current policies, measures or development programmes. They can even be given out in response to some specific problems referred to the commission by the central or the state governments.Like all other bodies, the Planning Commission was also criticised by many. Critics have described it as a Super Cabinet, an Economic Cabinet, a Parallel Cabinet, and the Fifth Wheel of the Coach.

 

The ARC observed that under the Constitution, the ministers, whether in the centre or the state, are in effect, the ultimate executive authorities. Unfortunately, the planning commission has in some measures, earned the reputation of being a parallel cabinet and sometimes a super cabinet.“The root cause of the failure lies in the process by which the Planning Commission, essentially an advisory body, has come to mix itself with the actual process of the formation of public policies even in matters other than development.The mid discretion has been helped largely by membership of Prime Minister and Fiancé Minister in the Planning Commission which appears to have vested the Planning Commission and its decisions with the unnatural kind of prestige and importance”

-D R Gadgil, former Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission

 

“Planning has superseded the federation and our country is functioning as a unitary system in many respects”

-K Santhanam, Constitutional Expert

 

“Though Planning Commission is an advisory organ of the government, it has come to exercise significant influence over the formation of public policies even in matters other than of development, and its advisory role in a way extends over the entire administration”

-P P Agarwal, an eminent scholar.