Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair the meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) on Wednesday to approve the eleventh five-year plan that seeks to raise the growth rate from 7.5 per cent to 9 per cent over the next five years.
The NDC meeting, to be attended by chief ministers and lieutenant governors of states and Union territories besides key central ministers, would discuss the Rs 36,44,000 crore plan that seeks to nearly double agricultural growth to four per cent and raise the central outlay for education from eight per cent in the last five years to 19 per cent.
At the end of the five-year period, the plan, which also pitches for the Indo-US nuclear deal so that the existing restrictions of nuclear fuel are removed, expects to bring down poverty levels by 10 percentage points and reduce unemployment to less than five per cent.
“We would like the chief ministers to make specific suggestions...And will seek revision of the guidelines to accommodate their views wherever necessary,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on the eve of the NDC meeting. “As an institution, we should be an honest broker. We need to de-politicise economic policies to build a consensus and move in the right direction,” he added.
Denying the BJP’s charge that plan allocations were designed to appease the minorities, he said allocations would focus on equalising access for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, besides addressing the gender divide and needs of minorities. “If you want an inclusive growth, then you will have to focus on equalising access for all,” he said. “I reject the idea that the allocation has been made on communal lines.”
Commission officials said the plan had only referred to the PM’s 15-Point Programme for Minorities that promised an equitable share for minorities in socio-economic schemes.
Many chief ministers had drawn the commission’s attention to areas within states that were devoid of development, Ahluwalia said. “But it is not for us to micro-manage everything,” he argued.