India has been on the road to planned economic development since 1st April 1951. Many important changes were brought about through the First, Second, Third and Fourth Five year Plans. Indian economy was given a national character.
Capitalism gradually changed its shape. Many privately owned business concerns have been nationalized e.g. Life Insurance, Air Transport, Coal Mines, Banks, etc.
The First two Plans took us much ahead on the road to progress. We gained much valuable experiences. Many difficulties were faced and overcome. All sorts of industries were developed. The production of steel was increased several times. Much was also done to tackle the unemployment problem. Industries need power. Many of our river-valley projects were completed, and more power generated.
The Chinese attack in October, 1962, put a severe strain on our economy. There was danger that the Third Plan would be upset. But we are glad that the Government met the challenge with courage. The country was faced with emergency. But the implementation of the Plan went on hand in hand with defence preparations. The people bravely bore the burden placed upon them. They co-operated fully with the Government. Despite the Chinese attack, the Third Plan was as brilliant a success as the two previous plans.
Planning is a continuous process. When the Third Plan ended the fourth plan which was the commence from April 1, 1966 had to the postponed for unavoidable financial difficulties. Hence a plan holiday was observed and instead then annual plans were taken up in 1966-67 and 1968-69. During these plans stress was laid on agriculture, family planning an social services.
The fourth plan was taken up form 1st April, 1969. The Fourth plan also aimed at the strengthening of the defence of the country. More of heavy engineering industries were established so that India may not have to import valuable machinery. More ordinance factories were set up and the production of the existing once was stepped up. For the success of the Plan, much foreign exchange was needed. Efforts were made to secure it from friendly powers as the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. They assured India of their full help and co-operation.
The Fourth General Elections entirely changed the political scene in the country. There were non-Congress Ministries in several states. Congress majority was much reduced in the states and even at the center. Obviously the administration became much weaker. In foreign countries, it was felt that India was no longer politically stable. This had an adverse effect on foreign aid. The result of all these difficulties was that the Fourth Plan had to be suspended for about a year.
Despite all these difficulties, much progress was made on all fronts during the Fourth Plan period. The food problem was solved. India was no longer dependent on foreign countries in this respect. Much progress was also made in family planning. Sugar production also went up. Many new industries were set up. The Indo-Pak war of Dec., 1971, fully demonstrated that militarily India had become a powerful nation. Then the Fifth Five-Year Plan was put into operation. It was an ambitious plan covering every field of economy. More particularly, it aimed at increasing agricultural production and employment opportunities. Declaration of internal emergency accelerated the pace of growth and infused a sense of discipline in the nation. It was hoped that by the end of this plan, Indian economy would reach the take off stage, and the country would become self-sufficient.
But the general elections held in 1977, brought the Janta Party to power at the center, and in most of the states. The new Janta Government stopped the implementation of the Fifth Plan. It was unfortunate that planned development was given up. Indian economy suffered and there was an all round scarcity of essential goods. However, the Janta Government did not last for long. IN the general elections held in January 1980, the Congress (I) gained an over-whelming majority and Late Mrs. Indra Gandhi was again in power. The process of planning was again taken up. The Sixth Five-year Plan was implemented. Stress was on increased production in every field. Power-generation, rural electrification, cement, steel, and other essential items were given top-priority.
Though the country has achieved much through the process of planning, much more still remains to be done. The Seventh Five-Year Plan was a forward looking plan. It took into account the growing needs of the country during the next decade or so. Its aim was to usher in a strong and prosperous India into the 21st century.
The English Five Year Plan should have become operational from April, 1990. But the new National Front Government could not finalize it. It became operational from April, 1992. It was hoped that during this plan period India would become self-sufficient in a number of fields, the per capital income would increase still further, and unemployment would be drastically reduced. Inflation rate was also to be brought down.
The Ninth five year Plan is now operational since April 1, 1997. This Plan aims at greater production accompanies with equality, creation of employment opportunities, eradication of poverty, providing primary health services, primary education to all and housing facilities to the poor and downtrodden. It is hoped that during this and the next plan period. India would become self-sufficient in a number of fields, the per capital income would increase still further, and unemployment would be drastically reduced. In short, it would make India more confident, self-reliant and prosperous.