19 Sep 2018 21:30 IST

Pranab in new ‘avatar’ at IIM-A: Takes lectures on Indian constitution and economy

The former prez is likely to take 12 lectures of the 22-lecture series

On Tuesday, former President Pranab Mukherjee delivered the first in what is to be a series of lectures as a visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad.

With the topic of ‘Constitutional Provisions for Socio-Economic Inclusivity: Theory and Parliamentary Practice’, Mukherjee delivered his first lecture as part of the course “Public Policy for Inclusive Development of India” for IIM-A students under the aegis of the JSW School of Public Policy. For the 22-sessions-long course, Mukherjee is likely to take 12 lectures.

On his two-day visit to Ahmedabad, the former President took sessions covering various aspects of the Indian economy and policy with historical references to ancient Indian “open society”. He highlighted efficient administrative systems of ancient India with planned settlements and infrastructure, colonial exploitation, the independence movement and the aftermath of the British rule.

“After almost two centuries of economic exploitation, India was left a resource-ravaged nation which had to formulate policies in a way that the large population’s needs could be taken care of... In this scenario, the Constituent Assembly undertook the task of building a vision of a democratic nation and setting up goals for achieving that vision. It took up the challenge of making India into an egalitarian society with optimal resource usage,” Mukherjee said.

Explaining the parliamentary democracy and the importance of the role of legislature, Mukherjee stated that a legislature is effective only if it is able to address the differences among stakeholders and succeeds to bring them to a consensus for a law to be enacted and enforced.

Policies, he said, are normative in nature and refer to a definite course of action adopted for expediting or facilitating desired results in a given situation. Policies need to address the concerns of different stakeholders in a society, in the larger national interest.

The former President gave the Students an insight into the formation of Constitution and the structure of policy decisions in the government. Explaining the Central planning process and the evolution of Planning Commission - “to promote a rapid rise in the standard of living of the people by efficient exploitation of the resources of the country, increasing production and offering opportunities to all for employment in the service of the community.” he hailed the replacement of Planning Commission with NITI Aayog, formed by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government in January 2015.

“..It was done in order to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people of India. An important evolutionary change from the past, NITI Aayog acts as a platform of the Government of India to bring States to act together in national interest, and thereby fosters Cooperative Federalism.”

Over the decades of Planning process under the Five Year Plans, Mukherjee stated that till the eighth FYP, the focus was on growing public sector with massive investments in basic and heavy industries. “..but since the launch of the Ninth Plan in 1997, the emphasis on the public sector became less pronounced and the current thinking in the Government is that larger space should be created for private sector..”

Terming the bio-metric identification scheme - Aadhaar as an instrument to protect the poor from the vagaries of market forces, the Former President said it is a strategic policy tool for social and financial inclusion, public sector delivery reforms, managing fiscal budgets, increasing convenience and promote hassle-free people-centric governance.

The former President also highlighted the some of the reformist government policies and initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), e-governance, direct benefit transfer among others.