Apart from financial inclusion, developing model villages in every block and latrines across the country in every school within one year, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most significant announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort was the burial of the Planning Commission, the last remnant of Nehruvian socialist economy. predescor
The 70-minute extempore speech of Modi, the first in many years that broke the dullness and monotony, was, however, largely inwards, even though a record number of foreign diplomats had made a beeline in wee-hours to find a place in the VVIP enclosure.
The sole exception was the PM’s mention of seeking cooperation amongst SAARC nations, to eradicate poverty.
The bullet proof glass that previous Prime Ministers have stood behind was also conspicuous by its absence.
In a late night development, Prime Minister had approved an 8-page note relating to abolition of the Planning Commission and replacing it with another body National Development Commission and Reforms (NDCR). It has also envisaged scrapping the PM’s economic advisory council by merging it with the NDCR, which will now function as a think-tank under the Department of Expenditure for the government, rather approving planned funds for the central and state governments.
The 8-member body headed by the Prime Minister himself will have members from corporate bodies as well representation from the states. The three finance ministers from the states will represent the new Commission by rotation.
With 30 divisions manned by 109 senior officers and a staff strength of over 800, the Planning Commission, though lacking any Constitutional and legal authority, has drawn its strength through a mere government resolution in 1950. Official sources said the staff will be adjusted and redistributed in various departments.
Soon after assuming office, the PM had sought a report on the efficacy of government schemes, The report while suggesting dismantling the Planning Commission, had also indicted it for defying attempts "to reform it to bring it in line with the needs of a modern economy."
Among the schemes, he announced on Friday were, the Jan Dhan Yojna, under which bank accounts will be opened for the poor. It will also include insurance through debit card for up to Rs 1 lakh. The MPs will develop one model village each in their constituencies. The blueprint of which would be announced on the birth anniversary of Jai Prakash Narayan on October 11.
He also announced a 'çlean India' scheme under which cleanliness drive will be launched across India starting October 2. He hoped that on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019, the target would have been achieved. Identifying poverty as a common challenge for all SAARC countries, he said the member countries must wage a war against it to improve the lives of their people.
Almost all the 153 foreign mission based in Delhi had shown an interest to attend the Independence Day function at Red Fort. In the past not more than 50-60 missions approach the ministry of external affairs for passes.
But this year, 150 missions had sought passes, and out of which 144 attended the function. The ministry had made arrangements for simultaneous English translation for their benefit.
Soon after finishing his speech, Modi, sporting a traditional Rajasthani safa (headgear), broke the security cordon and got down from his car to meet a group of school children, who had assembled at the venue.
The children from different schools were there since early morning to perform at the venue.