Multilevel Planning in India: It was by the late 1950s and early 1960s that the states demanded the right to plan at the state level. By the mid-1960s, the states were given the power to plan by the Centre, advising them that they should promote planning at the lower levels of the administrative strata too, i.e., at the district level planning—via the municipalities and corporations in the urban areas and via block-level through panchayats and the tribal boards. By the early 1980s, India was a country of multi-level planning (MLP) with the structure and strata of planning as follows:
Multilevel Planning in India: Levels of Planning
First Strata: Centre-Level Planning
At this level, three types of Central Plans had evolved over the years—the Five Year Plans, the Twenty-Point Programme, and the MPLADS.
Second Strata: State-Level Planning
By the 1960s, the states were planning at the state level with their respective planning bodies, the state Planning Boards with the respective CMs being their de-facto Chairman. The plans of the states were for a term of five years and parallel to the concerned Five Year Plans of the Centre.
Third Strata: District-Level Planning
By the late 1960s, all the states’ districts had their own plans with their respective District Planning Boards, with the District Magistrate being the de-facto chairman. The district-level plans are now implemented via municipalities or corporations in the urban areas and the panchayats via the blocks in the rural areas.
Fourth Strata: Block-Level Planning
As a part of the district-level planning, the block-level planning came up which had the District Planning Boards as their nodal body. Below the blocks, India developed the planning at the local level too.
Fifth Strata: Local-Level Planning
By the early 1980s, plans were being implemented at the local level via the blocks and had the District Planning Boards (DPBs) as the nodal agency. Due to socioeconomic differentiation among the population, local-level planning in India developed with its three variants, namely:
i. Village-Level Planning
ii. Hill Area Planning
iii. Tribal Area Planning
Basically, the MLP was started to promote the process of decentralized planning in the country. It was the Indian version of democratic planning which ultimately sought to guarantee the people’s participation in the process of planning. But it failed to do so due to many reasons. The reasons have been discussed below:
Constraints in Multilevel Planning in India
A. It could not promote people’s participation in the formation of various plans. The basic idea of the MLP model was that once the local-level plans will be handed over to the blocks, the blocks will make their plans and once the blocks hand over their plans to the districts, the district-level plans will be formulated. Similarly, the state plans and the Five Year Plan if the Centre will formulate one. By doing so, every idea of planning will have the representation of everybody in the- country at the time of plan formation— a special kind of plan empathy would have developed out of this process. But this was not the reality. Every stratum made its own plans—lacking the empathy factor.
B. Only Central Plans were implemented as the states lacked the required level of finance to support the plans. They ultimately had to be satisfied by implementing the Central Plans which failed to include the states’ empathy.
C. As the local bodies in India were not having any constitutional mandate, they just played complementary roles to the state planning process. As they had no financial independence, their Plans, even if they were formulated, remained only on paper.
D. The MLP, thus, failed to include the people’s participation in planning, badly betraying the local aspirations.
But at least the failure of MLP made the government think in the direction of decentralized planning afresh leading to the enactment of the two important Constitutional Amendments—the 73rd and 74th.
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