Narendra Modi Makes Independence Day Speech
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his first Independence Day speech at Red Fort on FridayReuters

The 64-year-old Planning Commission will soon be replaced by an eight-member panel comprising government officials, economists and social sector representatives, and is likely to be headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The new panel, that is likely to be finalized in a few weeks, will be structured as a think-tank comprising four members of the government and four other experts, and while some reports suggest that Modi will take charge, others suggest that Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu will be put in charge.

Modi had announced during his Independence Day speech that the Planning Commission was no longer in sync with current economic realities and had proposed to set up a new institution to replace it. He had also promised that the new panel would have a federal structure, and reports suggest that states will be given a major say in the functioning for a more decentralized process.

The Planning Commission was set up in 1950 and had put down 12 five-year plans so far to give the government economic guidelines to work with.

However, the new institution may scrap the five-year plans and bring out 'vision documents' instead, The Times of India reported.

The new plan panel will function as an advisory body to the government on reforms and will also work on dispute resolution forum for states.

Earlier this week, Modi had opened up the forum for ideas on how the new panel should work with the entire public in India through an online portal.

Modi is likely to chair a meeting to finalize the panel on 26 August, in which members of the Planning Commission are also likely to be present.

Speculations are already surrounding the membership of the panel, with the names of Arun Shourie and economist Bibek Debroy doing the rounds. The body is set to include representatives from key states and from the corporate sector as well.

"This would ensure that there is equal representation of all stakeholders on developmental issues that the new institution would address," an official told The Economic Times.

The ET report also suggests that the panel was touted to be named 'National Development and Reforms Commission', but since a body by that name is functioning in neighbouring China, the panel may be called something else.