25 October 2000


From Jal Khambata

NEW DELHI: The Vajpayee Government is quietly working on its hidden agenda to transform the country to its own "vision" in the next ten years, discarding the Nehruvian concept of economy management through the Planning Commission.

Both the Planning Commission and the National Development Council (NDC) are sought to be circumvented and made ineffective and irrelevant by giving full powers and free hand to the Union Ministries to proceed with the long-range action plan of their own for turning this "vision" into a reality in 10 to 15 years. The agenda will be passed on as a pious objective of "ensuring greater focus and direction in the working of Government."

The move comes in the backdrop of the planning process becoming a big joke due to acute resource crunch and delays in finalisation of the successive Plans.

A "Confidential" and "Most Immediate" circular, which is perhaps the last policy letter signed by Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar who is now busy with the week-long farewell dinners before retirement, has directed all 76 Secretaries of the Union Ministries and Departments to quickly formulate an action plan to materialise the "vision" of a better India. They have been given the deadline of three months to prepare the document.

The Government's plan is to replace the 5-year Plans prepared and monitored by the Planning Commission with a "Vision Statement" which it seeks to unveil while presenting to Parliament the Economic Survey in February, prior to the Union Budget.

It shall be "a long-term vision or a road map covering a time-frame of around 10 to 15 years which would indicate the direction in which the Ministry/Department wishes to proceed and the major objectives that are sought to be achieved in the process," says the circular signed by the Cabinet Secretary on October 17 which landed on the tables of the Secretaries early this week.

The circular says: "Prime Minister has approved that such a 'Vision Statement' should be prepared by each Ministry/Department after due and careful deliberation involving reputed experts in the relevant areas."

Detailing the modus operandi, the circular says: "Once the Ministry/Department has prepared its Vision Statement, a presentation of the same would be made before the Prime Minister prior to its finalization.  The finalized Vision Statement  thereafter could be broken down into its 5-yearly as well as annual components, progress regarding which could be regularly reviewed at the level of the Cabinet Secretary.  A few priority items of the Vision Statement could be reviewed at the level of the Prime Minister on a periodical basis."

Asking the Secretaries to finalize the "Vision Statement" in respect of their Ministry/Department within a period of three months, the circular says: "This matter may also be brought to the notice of the Minister incharge of your Ministry/Department." END

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