[Solved] ‘In the context of neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost effective and remove many implementation blockages.’Discuss. ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2019)

The concept of multi-level regional planning may be defined as ‘planning for a variety of regions which together form a system and subordinate systems’. In multi-level planning, the various levels of planning provide bases for higher-level planning.

 • The focus of development planning is bring in efficiency and effectiveness of the Policy matter.

 That being said, the extent to which multi-level planning can make operations cost effective depends upon the following factors:

 • Decentralisation provides Feasibility or Relevance to the objectives: Depending on the feasibility or relevance of the national objective to the block, a plan may or may not correspond or give the same weightage to national plan objectives. For instance, the national plan objective of self- reliance translated at the block level would imply that outflow of goods and services from the block to the rest of the country increase to a level at which these can pay for the inflow of goods and services.

 Since the block is a part, even if a smaller part of the national economy, self-reliance in this sense is, therefore, not feasible.

 • Freedom to Fix Priorities: Since the specific situation at the local level is quite different from the national scene, a block plan may even give different weightage to national priorities in its scheme of priorities.

 • Target Fixing: A block drawing upon the available resources and its own experiences should have the freedom to fix its own targets, depending upon their feasibility. When fixing a target, the quantum of resources and relevant institutional and organizational arrangements, manpower, feasibility, etc. have to be taken into consideration.

 • Relationship among Plan Objectives: There may be either a complementary or a competitive relationship between plan objectives. A complementary relation is ensured if a plan, which contributes positively to one objective, makes a positive contribution to the second as well, or at least, does not make a negative contribution. A competitive relationship, on the other hand, means that a positive contribution to one objective may (in some cases at least) lead to a negative contribution to the other.

 Conclusion:

 One of the prerequisites of an effective planning at the local level is a full and sustained commitment on the part of the government at all four levels. An indication of this commitment might be the presence of development planning organizations. This organization does the planning and at the same time coordinates the implementation of development projects in the area. To be operational, however, this locally based planning organization has to have a capable manpower and logistic support.

 Similarly, to be effective, it has to have a clear mandate to formulate the development plan of the area and its role and responsibilities clearly delineated vis-à-vis other government agencies Multi -level planning in neoliberal development planning

 • It refers to involvement of multiple stakeholders and planning at multiple levels.

 • Here bottom up planning is more prominent. States, local governments, private sector corporates should be involved in consultations as they play major role in implementation.

 • It makes sure that the process is more consensus based, and closer to reality.

 • Decentralized planning, establishment of district planning committee and metropolitan planning committee under 74th amendment 1992 are manifestation of this realization.

 It has lots of advantages:

 • It certainly makes operations more cost effective as it provides greater role for local governments itself which know the realty and are closer to people, chances of corruption, leakages will be reduced.

 For instance, the opportunities to monitor and supervise development programs increases with initiatives like social audit, Jan sunwaii of MKSS etc.

 • In neoliberal planning, private sector itself has huge role to play. Hence, they will adjust their operations according to market demands hence unnecessary expenditures will be reduced.

 • Development plans will be customized to suit the realty, hence one-size-fits-all approach is avoided thereby making the process more cost effective.

 For instance, needs of a state like Kerala and Uttar Pradesh will not be the same. Hence programs have to be remodeled to suit specific demands.

 • It also reduces lots of implementation blockages.

 • With neoliberal multi-level planning, top down ivory tower approach is given way to bottom up planning.

 • It reduces the number of levels of functionaries involved in implementation thereby removing barriers for implementation.

 • Local governments with the involvement of local people can plan for their villages through gram Sabha within their resources.

 For example, in welfare programs like MGNREGA gram Sabha plans programs needed for their panchayats.

 • Low level functionaries need not wait for the approval of higher-level authorities for every new initiative.

 • It transforms “bureaucratization of development” to “democratization of development”.

 • Decrease in number of poor posts 1991 is a proof that it has lots of positives in implementation process.

 • During the period of 2006 to 2016 itself India has successfully lifted 279 million people out of poverty (multi-dimensional poverty report)

 However, it also has lots of disadvantages.

 • Role of state is reduced. Its goals as a welfare state will be affected. Hence social expenditure will decline thereby putting lot of poor who are still dependent on state without adequate quality education and healthcare.

 • It increases the cost of essential services. For example, the out of pocket expenditure on health has reached around 70%.

 • Income inequality has reached one of its peaks. Recent Oxfam report says top 1% Indians own nearly 60% of wealth.

 • There are also criticisms that state is giving away its responsibility towards weaker sections of society .

 For example, last year a study by swaraj India in Bundelkhand region showed that people were eating rotis made of grass because of reduction in social expenditure, poor implementation of food security schemes.

 Hence neoliberal development planning certainly has lots of positives with its own set of disadvantages. Both state with its multiple levels and private sector should realize each other’s importance and coordinate with each other to realize broader goals of society.

 Similarly, the higher-level regional plans provide the basic frame-work for the lower-level plans. In such plans, there is direct participation of the people in the planning process. In multi-level planning, every region/unit constitutes a system and hence, the planning process becomes more effective.

 Difficulty observed at Planning, Implementation and monitoring stage

 • Centralized planning is affected by bureaucratic functioning and growth of red tapism and, therefore, there is loss in the efficiency of management.

 • This methodology reduced freedom to the regional bodies and local enterprises.

 • Centralized planning may result in the centralization of powers. Moreover, individual initiative and enterprise may be adversely affected by such a system.

 • In centralized planning, the formulators are often not aware of ground realities, and often standardized programmes and schemes are prepared, which may not be suitable at all places.

 • Under centralized planning, there are high costs of obtaining information, loss of time, difficulties in applying concepts uniformly to all situations, problems of distortions in transmitting decisions for implementations etc., which reduce the effectiveness.

 Multi level Planning:

 • Decentralized planning is defined as that form of planning where the task of formulating, adopting, executing and supervising the plan is dispersed, rather than entrusted to a central authority. In decentralized planning, the regional and local bodies are given greater freedom to formulate, adopt and implement the plan.

 • The various levels of multi-level planning in India are: (1) Centre, (2) States, (3) Districts, (4) Blocks, and (5) Villages.

 Why do we need decentralized planning?

 • Decentralized planning makes the plans and programmes more suitable to local conditions.

 • The need for decentralized planning provides the justification for planning at multiple levels. The former provides the logic for the existence of the latter. Decentralization of the planning process makes planning more meaningful, more democratic and more responsive to the needs of those for whom planning is meant. However, planning at multiple levels has to be integrated. This is the primary objective and the main challenge of multi-level planning.

 • The focus of development planning is bring in efficiency and effectiveness of the Policy matter.

 That being said, the extent to which multi-level planning can make operations cost effective depends upon the following factors:

 • Decentralisation provides Feasibility or Relevance to the objectives: Depending on the feasibility or relevance of the national objective to the block, a plan may or may not correspond or give the same weightage to national plan objectives. For instance, the national plan objective of self- reliance translated at the block level would imply that outflow of goods and services from the block to the rest of the country increase to a level at which these can pay for the inflow of goods and services.

 Since the block is a part, even if a smaller part of the national economy, self-reliance in this sense is, therefore, not feasible.

 • Freedom to Fix Priorities: Since the specific situation at the local level is quite different from the national scene, a block plan may even give different weightage to national priorities in its scheme of priorities.

 • Target Fixing: A block drawing upon the available resources and its own experiences should have the freedom to fix its own targets, depending upon their feasibility. When fixing a target, the quantum of resources and relevant institutional and organizational arrangements, manpower, feasibility, etc. have to be taken into consideration.

 • Relationship among Plan Objectives: There may be either a complementary or a competitive relationship between plan objectives. A complementary relation is ensured if a plan, which contributes positively to one objective, makes a positive contribution to the second as well, or at least, does not make a negative contribution. A competitive relationship, on the other hand, means that a positive contribution to one objective may (in some cases at least) lead to a negative contribution to the other.

 Conclusion:

 One of the prerequisites of an effective planning at the local level is a full and sustained commitment on the part of the government at all four levels. An indication of this commitment might be the presence of development planning organizations. This organization does the planning and at the same time coordinates the implementation of development projects in the area. To be operational, however, this locally based planning organization has to have a capable manpower and logistic support. Similarly, to be effective, it has to have a clear mandate to formulate the development plan of the area and its role and responsibilities clearly delineated vis-à-vis other government agencies

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