The First Five Year Plan (1951-56) aimed at an all-round development through increase in national income and improvement in living standards of the people. There were inflationary pressures and large scale imports of food grains. Therefore, the main thrust of the Plan was improvement of agriculture, irrigation facilities, power projects and transportation. It also aimed at enhancing the rate of investment from 5% to 7% of the national income.
The Second Plan, launched in 1956, sought an increase of 25% in national income, rapid industrialisation of heavy industries and large expansion of employment opportunities. It also sought to reduce inequalities in income and wealth and more even distribution of economic power in order to establish a socialistic pattern of society.
The Third Plan (1961-1966) was an ambitious one, which aimed at self-sustaining growth and economy. Therefore, highest priority was given to expansion of basic industries, like steel, chemicals, fuel and power, and achievement of self- sufficiency in food grains through greater agricultural production and utilisation of human resources to the maximum. It also sought to establish greater equality of opportunities and bring about reduction in disparities of income and distribution of national wealth. The Indo-Pak conflict in 1965, two successive and severe droughts, devaluation of rupee, steep rise in prices, along with paucity of funds added to the discomfort of our planners and so there was much delay in the implementation of the Plan. The size of development outlay also had to be kept considerably down and greater dependence on foreign aid became a necessity.
The Fourth Plan (1969-74) officially commenced on April 1, 1969, with the publication of the draft plan. Growth with stability was the main objective of the Plan.
Formulated against the backdrop of severe inflationary pressures, it aimed at an annual growth rate of 5.5% in national income through self-sufficiency in food grains and agricultural produce. Priority was also given to bringing inflation under control, alleviation of poverty and improvement of living standards of the people.
The Fifth Plan draft, as originally drawn up, was part of a long term Perspective Plan covering a period of 10 years from 1974-86. The new slogan was Garibi Hatao. By the time the Plan got its approval from the National Development Council (Sept. 1976), its premises had become obsolete. With the Janata Party coming into power in another six months, it was scrapped unceremoniously. A Rolling Plan started with an Annual Plan for 1978-79.
By the time the Sixth Plan was launched in 1980, the planners had gained much experience and expertise. They wanted result-oriented planning, aimed at accelerated growth and development in industries and agriculture through the strengthening of infrastructure. The removal of poverty and generation of greater employment opportunities were given the highest priority. It also sought greater involvement and participation of the people in formulation and implementation of various developmental schemes at different local levels. The new 20-point programme was also introduced during this period in order to benefit the unorganised sector and meet the minimum basic needs of the people.
The main objectives of the Seventh Plan were rapid growth in food grains, modernisation of industries, self-reliance, justice and greater employment opportunities. During the plan period, foodgrain production grew by 2.23% as compared to a long term growth rate of 2.68% during 1967-68 and a growth rate of 2.55% in the eighties. A special programme like Jawahar Rozgar Yojana was also introduced in addition to some other already existing programmes, to generate more employment opportunities and reduce the incidence of poverty among the rural population. Due recognition was also accorded to the role of small scale and food-processing industries in national development and poverty alleviation.
The Eighth Plan (1992-97) proposed a growth rate of 5.6% per annum on’ an average. Integrative in nature, the Eighth Plan gave priority to the rapid growth of infrastructure including power, transport and communication. In order to correct the fiscal imbalances from which the previous Plans suffered greater emphasis was laid on higher resource mobilisation and improvement in performance of public sector units so as to avoid the debt-trap. It also aimed at devolution of power to the people’s organisations at the district, block and village levels so that Panchayats, Gramsabhas and Nagarpalikas could play greater roles in the formulation and implementation of the developmental projects in their areas. With sufficient scope for change, innovation and adjustment, the Eighth Plan laid special emphasis on employment and improvement of living standards of the rural poor. The Plan also recognised “human development” as the core of all developmental efforts and gave due importance to achievement of goals in the areas of health, literacy and basic needs, including drinking water, housing and welfare activities of the weaker sections.
The broad objectives of the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997- – 2002) were (i) Priority to agriculture and rural development to generate more employment and remove poverty; (ii) Accelerating growth rate with stable prices; (iii) Ensuring food and nutritional security for the poor; (iv) Providing minimum services of safe drinking water, primary health care, universal primary education and shelter; (v) Checking growth of population; (vi) Empowerment of women and weaker sections of society; and (vii) Strengthening efforts to build self- reliance.
The priorities of the Ten Five-Year Plan (2002-2007) are as follows—(i) Improving the quality of life through better health and educational facilities and improved levels of consumption, (ii) Reduction in inequality.
The analysis and assessment of the above Plans clearly shows that planning as an instrument of growth and development has helped us a lot in achieving our objectives to a great extent. There have been many shortcomings and failures and yet the importance of planning and its implementation cannot be overlooked. During these four decades of planning, there have been significant achievements in the field of industries and agricultural growth, expansion of business and finance, rural development, poverty alleviation, generation of employment opportunities and improvement in standards of living of the people. There has been a determined and marked effort towards all round development of the society and the results have not been disappointing only because of the planning and its implementation. It has opened the avenues for a new and bold economic and social order based on equality and social justice, and commitment. The planning concept in India is the concept of economic growth with social justice.