5.2          ndian      onom
                                                                      major future direction for further plans.5 Going
        IntroductIon                                                  through the history of planning in India is a
     It was the Soviet Union which explored and                       highly educational trip in itself—for though the
     adopted national planning for the first time in                  Planning Commission has been a political body,
     the world. After a prolonged period of debate                    it never hesitated in pointing out good economics
     and discussion, the First Soviet Plan commenced                  time and again. Let us therefore look into the
     in 1928 for a period of five years. But the world                unfolding of the planning process in India.
     outside was not fully aware of the modus operandi
     of development planning till the 1930s. It was the                  BAcKGround
     exodus1 of the east European economists to Britain
                                                                      By the decade of the 1930s, the idea of planning
     and the United States in the 1920s and 1930s
                                                                      had already entered the domain of intellectual and
     that made the world aware as to what economic/
                                                                      political discussion in India. Many fresh proposals
     national planning was all about. The whole lot of
                                                                      suggesting immediacy of planning in India
     colonial world and the democracies of the time
                                                                      were put forward, though the erstwhile British
     were fascinated by the idea of planning as an
                                                                      government remained almost immune to them.
     instrument of economic progress. The nationalist
                                                                      But these humble proposals of planning served
     leaders with socialistic inclination of the erstwhile
                                                                      their purpose once India became independent and
     British colonies were more influenced by the idea
                                                                      decided to adopt a planned economy.
     of economic planning. The whole decade of the
     1930s is the period in the Indian history when we
                                                                      the visvesvArAyA PlAn
     see nationalists, capitalists, socialists, democrats
     and academicians advocating for the need of                      The credit of proposing the first blueprint of
     economic planning in India at one point or the                   Indian planning is given to the popular civil
     other.2                                                          engineer and the ex-Dewan of the Mysore
           Independent India was thus destined to be a                state, M. Visvesvaraya. In his book The Planned
     planned economy. The economic history of India                   Economy of India, published in 1934, he outlined
     is nothing but the history of planning.3 Even if the             the broad confours of his plan proposal.6 His ideas
     so-called economic reforms started in 1991–92,                   of state planning were an exercise in democratic
     all the humble suggestions regarding the contours                capitalism (similar to the USA) with emphasis
     of reforms were very much outlined by the                        on industrialisation—a shift of labour from
     Planning Commission by then.4 Once the reforms                   agricultural to industries, targeting to double the
     commenced, the think tank started outlining the                  national income in one decade. Though there was
                                                                      no follow up by the British government on this
                                                                      plan, it aroused an urge for national planning
                                                                      among the educated citizens of the country.
         1.  J.K. Galbraith, A History of Economics, (London:
             Penguin Books 199), p. 187.
                                                                      the ficci ProPosAl
         2.  Bipan Chandra, ‘The Colonial Legacy’, in Bimal Jalan
             (ed.), The Indian Economy: Problems and Prospects,       In 1934, a serious need of national planning
             (New Delhi: Penguin books, 2004).                        was recommended by the Federation of Indian
         3.  Arjun Sengupta, ‘The planning Regime since 1951’ in N.N.
             Vohra and Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (eds), Looking Back:
             India in the Twentieth Century (New Delhi: National         5.  Planning Commission, The 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Plans,
             Book Trust, 2001), p. 121.                                      New Delhi: Government of India.
         4.  Planning Commission, Seventh Five Year Plan (1985–90),      6.  Sumit Sarkar, Modern India: 1855–1947, (New Delhi:
             (New Delhi: Government of India), 1985.                         Macmillan, 1983), pp. 360–361.