Shimla: Having put a target of achieving 9 percent growth in the 11th Plan and to make it more distributional, 33 percent of the plan size is proposed to be marked for the social sector, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission stated here.
Delivering the 12th Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishanan Memorial lecture at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Ahluwalia said even though the 10th Plan had achieved a growth of 7.6 %, poverty reduction over the last three years was less than 1 percent. “Clearly distribution of growth was not as equitable as it should have been,” he said.
With reforms having unleashed private participation in India’s growth story, the taxes to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio had improved leading to a larger plan size. The 9 percent growth target in the 11th plan is possible with active participation from the private sector, he said.
“The biggest laggard in the 10 plan was agriculture,’ he said, “where a growth of 4 % had been projected but less than 2 % was achieved.’ The 11th plan, which would be finalized towards the end of the year, shows that a 4 % growth in agriculture was feasible by increased productivity. Besides foodgrains, high value perishable crops like vegetables and fruits with better marketing infrastructure can make the target achievable. State specific agro climatic plans for agriculture needed to be formulated for the purpose, said Ahluwalia.
To sustain high growth rates, states would have to focus on better governance in health and education sectors and give a major thrust on infrastructure, he said. Talking about infrastructure, Ahluwalia mentioned the success story of private participation in telecom sector saying that this needed to be replicated in power, roads, airports and ports. Private sector participation, if properly incentivised, will have a major role to play in developing the country’s infrastructure, he said.
At the current growth levels, he said, the country is already short of quality manpower and for sustaining higher levels, education at the primary, secondary and higher levels will need to be overhauled. “Absenteeism in secondary school education for India is the highest in the world,” said Ahluwalia adding “to bring about better accountability mechanism for handing over managerial control to panchayats and other local bodies would need to be brought about.”
The 11 Plan proposes to establish 6000 quality schools in the country of which 2500 could be managed under private public participation model. At the higher level universities could collaborate with foreign universities and to retain better quality staff a differential reward system for salaries could be adopted, he said.
In the health sector the 11th plan proposes to increase the allocation form 1 % of GDP to 2 %, which would have monitorable targets of reducing infant and maternal mortality rates attached to allocations made. With better governance and accountability the targets of the 11th plan are achievable even though we are not projecting any target about the poverty reduction that could be achieved by the end of the plan period, said Ahluwalia.