The Planning Commission hosted an hour-long Google Hangout session on the 12th Plan on Friday.

The session, hosted by NDTV’s Vikram Chandra, was attended by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Sam Pitroda and other Planning Commission members, apart from a few civil society members.

The idea was to increase public participation and reach out to the youth who use social media, said Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in his introductory remarks.

As Pitroda put it, “About 74 per cent people in urban areas use Internet and it is a powerful medium for communication.”

In reply to a twitter question on whether there is a need for a Planning Commission at all, Ahluwalia said, “The Planning Commission sets a national target and studies the implications of it. There are sectoral targets in which Government and the private sector both participate. Somebody has to make sure that resources are available.”

Jagdish Bairwa, Sarpanch of Kanpura gram panchayat from Ajmer, said that internet in rural areas had created awareness and more rural people were using the medium.

Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw joined in from Bangalore and wanted to know if an annual report card could be provided to citizens for whom the Five-year Plan was an ‘ambiguous document’. She also wanted the Commission to start preparing a report card for the 11th Plan.

Ahluwalia said annual report card did not make sense as there are mid-term appraisals to address that issue. “We don't have an annual report as the Budget does that.”

He said the Independent Evaluation Office being set up would evaluate schemes and tackle accountability issues regarding the Plan.

Later, Pitroda announced a Hackathon on April 6 and 7 to engage youth to create short films and newer applications on the theme of the 12{+t}{+h} Plan.

navadha.p@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 15, 2013)
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