The Prime Minister chairs the National Development Council (NDC), also known as the Rashtriya Vikas Parishad, which is India's premier council for development decision-making and deliberation. The National Development Council is one of India's most important planning systems. It represents the federal approach to planning and serves as a check to ensure that the planning system is really national in scope. The National Development Council is a constitutional body, which is responsible for several NDC operations.
The concept of ‘NDC' is crucial for the IAS Exam's Indian Polity subject (Mains GS-II). This article discusses the National Development Council's composition, appointment, functions, and more.
National Development Council (NDC) – Background
The fortunes of the NDC have gone up and down many times. Its status has been defined by the current political atmosphere, as well as the support is given to it by the central government and the effectiveness of state government pressure.
Despite the ups and downs, it has experienced over the last six decades, its presence in the apex policy structure has always been felt.
The Planning Advisory Board, chaired by KC Neogi, advocated the formation of an advisory group in 1946, which would comprise representatives from provinces, princely realms, and other interests. Despite the fact that this plan was not executed prior to independence, its logic was favourably received.
The Planning Commission of the Government of India had recognised the potential utility of such a coordinating body since its initial days of inception.
The Planning Commission highlighted in the “Draft First Five Year Plan” that in a vast country like India, where states enjoy autonomy in the performance of their functions under the constitution, there was a need for a body like the National Development Council to facilitate the Prime Minister and state Chief Ministers' periodic evaluation of planning and its various facets.
In August 1952, the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India proposed the formation of the National Development Council.
When was the National Development Council formed?
On August 6, 1952, the National Growth Council or NDC was established to strengthen and organise the nation's effort and resources in support of the plan and promote the common economic policies in all critical areas, as well as ensuring the balanced and speedy development of all regions of the country.
Appointment and Composition of NDC
The National Development Council comprises the following NDC members –
Indian Prime Minister
Chief Ministers of the entire States or their substitutes
All the Union Cabinet Ministers
The NITI Aayog members (erstwhile planning commission) and
Representatives of the union territories
The Planning Commission's secretary was also the NDC's secretary. The Planning Commission is also said to be assisted with administrative tasks.
The Governor of the Reserve Bank and other specialists have been invited to speak at meetings on several occasions. The Council's huge membership, which reached 50 members at one point, made it less useful for debate as a compact organization, therefore in November 1954, a Standing Committee was formed with only nine Chief Ministers and a few Union Ministers as the NDC members.
In addition, the Council has appointed committees to look into specific issues in the greater examination from time to time.
The Prime Minister chairs the Council, the Secretary to the Commission serves as its Secretary, and the Commission provides administrative and other support to the Council.
The Council meets twice a year, in general. It's worth noting that the Council usually doesn't pass any formal resolutions.
The standard procedure is to keep a thorough record of all discussions and extract general trends that can be used to pinpoint specific conclusions. The majority of decisions are made unanimously.
Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of NDC
The Council was formed in October 1967, following the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission, and its powers were redefined to include:
Prescription of rules for the construction of the National Plan, including resource assessments; consideration of the National Plan as formed by the National Development Council
Consideration of major social and economic policy issues impacting national development.
Review the Plan's operation from time to time and recommend any measures necessary to achieve the Plan's goals and objectives, including ensuring active participation and cooperation of the people, improving the efficiency of administrative services, ensuring the fullest development of the community's less developed regions and sections, and through sacrifice shared equally by all citizens.
The National Development Council was tasked with advising and recommending policies to the state and federal governments.
It has served as a high-powered consultative group from its formation, where the framework of the Five Year Plans, the major problems facing the Indian economy, and the policies that must be enacted to address the important problems have all been discussed and solutions reached.
As a result, in addition to the Plan, the Council has focused on issues such as food, the establishment of the State Trading Corporation, and land reforms.
The NDC chairman (chairman of National Development Council) or the Council's primary role is to serve as a link between the Union government, the Planning Commission, and state governments.
It aids in the coordination of not only policies and plans, but also other issues of national significance. It gives a good forum for discussion and a free and open sharing of views.
There is no other forum for comparison. It's also a way for states and the federal government to share responsibility. In a somewhat modified version, the Government of India accepted the recommendations of the First ARC. All-Union cabinet ministers, state chief ministers, union territory chief ministers/ chief executives, and members of the Planning Commission were invited to join the NDC, which would be led by the Prime Minister. As a result, the NDC and the NDC members were reconstituted along these lines in October 1967. It should be noted that the NDC does not normally pass formal resolutions. The normal protocol is to keep a thorough record of all talks held in its practices and then reach a consensus based on those discussions. Even if the council's judgments are unanimous, dissenting voices are often impossible to ignore.
New Role of NDC
When there is a lack of consensus, the greater national aims of socio-economic reconstruction are sometimes ignored. As a result, there is still a need to develop a "national agenda" for the country's holistic development, to which the NDC may make a significant contribution.
There can be no coordinated approach to planning without such a "national agenda." The NDC should be made more effective, according to the Sarkaria Commission, so that it can emerge as the supreme institution at the political level for planning relations between the centre and the states.
It has also proposed that the National Development Council (NDC) be renamed and reconstructed as the National Economic and Development Council (NEDC) in accordance with Article 263 of the constitution.
The Sarkari Commission then recommended the establishment of an NEDC Standing Committee, which would include the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Governor Cli of the Reserve Bank of India, and six Chief Ministers, one from each zone, who would be chosen by rotation or consensus.
However, if the NDC's position is changed to make it a more powerful and extended constitutional authority, it will have a significant impact on the entire political and administrative system. Until the desirability or otherwise of such a radical structural redesign is determined, the necessity to improve the effectiveness of the NDC's and Planning Commission's roles will endure.
Structure of NDC
The National Development Council has been made up of top-level representatives from the federal and state governments, as well as members of the Planning Commission, since its founding. In 1967, the First Administrative Reforms Commission took on the matter of reorganizing the NDC.
In its report on the Machinery for Planning (Interim), the commission suggested that the NDC should be reconstructed as follows:
The Prime Minister
The Deputy Prime Minister (if any)
(i) Finance; (ii) Food and Agriculture; (iii) Industrial Development and Company Affairs; (iv) Commerce; (v) Railways; (vi) Transport and Shipping; (vii) Education; (viii) Labor, Employment, and Rehabilitation; (ix) Home Affairs; and (x) Irrigation and Power
The Chief Ministers of all states
Members of the Commission on Planning
It was also suggested that the Prime Minister serve as NDC chairman, who is also called the chairman of the National Development Council, with the Secretary of the Planning Commission serving as secretary.
Thus, here we have covered about National Development Council and have learned about its basic information, background, formation and appointment, structure etc. This body helps in taking care of the guidelines for development and other national plans and assisted the Niti Aayog as well in considering the plans made by it and doing assessment of the goals and resources etc.