The Three Year Action Agenda has replaced the five year plans – an economic approach adopted by PM Nehru – which became history when the 12th Plan, the last of the Five-Year Plans, came to an end on March 31.
The benefits of this move are:
In a country as big and diverse as India, centralized planning could not work beyond a point due to its one-size-fits-all approach. Thus it was time to come out of the legacy of five-year plans which are reminiscent of centrally planned economies like the Soviet Union and Romania.
Better accountability with responsibility: The cycle of five year plan and the term of government are not synchronous. Thus if there is a new government in power then it will be implementing the priorities set by earlier government and the previous government is not held accountable for the targets set in the five year plan. With the three year cycle, government is held more accountable for its action on the plan.
Equal focus on present and future: By making this three-year action plan a part of a seven-year strategy paper and a 15-year vision document, government can focus on short-term goals which can be changed from time to time in a dynamic environment with eyes firmly stuck on the long-term policy objectives.Combines domestic aspiration with global aims: According to NK Singh (member of erstwhile planning commission), the new format of three, seven,fifteen combines domestic aspiration with global aims as the fifteen-year vision is coterminous (to a certain extent) with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With the old distinction between “Plan” and “non-Plan” expenditure gone, India is now on the road of becoming a full-fledged market economy. Thus we don’t need detailed planned targets, rather we just need to set broad priorities.
It will focus on shorter goals which can be reviewed after every three years to ensure that they are relevant to the demand of time.
They will also be aligned with the Finance Commission recommendations as the finances would be provided through the Finance Commissions.
Flexibility: The document is not required to be approved by the Union Cabinet which also does not make it binding for the government and its ministries and departments which was in the case of five year plans. Also the three-year strategic paper would not be as comprehensive as the five-year plan and is not expected to go into minute details of each sector.