The Indian Eleventh Five Year Plan of India has put strong emphasis on decentralized and outcome-based planning. The focus has been on the bottom-up approach to improve effectiveness of development programmes and facilitate inclusive growth. In order to achieve inclusive growth, the need for equitable participation in the development process and benefit-sharing by disadvantaged social groups has been emphasised. Therefore, decentralized development planning and implementation assumes paramount importance in the pursuit of inclusive growth. Over the last two decades, new policy space and scope for innovative work have opened up for strengthening decentralized planning and implementation. 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts have provided constitutional status and wider platforms of powers to urban and rural local governments. Accordingly, State Panchayat and Municipal Acts have expanded the powers and functions of local governments, District Planning Committees (DPCs) have been established and district planning has come into practice in many States. The Planning Commission of India has circulated guidelines and a manual on district planning to guide the process across the country. Several States have also adopted district planning guidelines to address their own contextual requirements.
However, a number of challenges still remain to be addressed for success of decentralized district planning in the country. One of the most important of them relates to development of knowledge and capacities of functionaries of Panchayat and Municipal bodies and district / State administrations. Many different institutions and actors from various levels of governments and civil society are active on related problems and issues. Sites of action range from the village to international levels. New knowledge and information are being continuously generated in manifold areas and contexts:
Acts, rules, guidelines, etc. for functioning of institutions of decentralized planning and governance;
Capacity development frameworks, programme designs, training and capacity building modules and resource materials in different communication media developed by a range of actors within and outside the country;
Technical methods, tools and processes useful for the practice of decentralized planning;
Good practices and learning emerging from experiments conducted by relevant professional and institutions.
Therefore, validation, documentation and sharing of all this knowledge and information is a critical part of necessary capacity development. Interaction and communication among practitioners, researchers and other interested stakeholders are also key operative aspects of such capacity development. There seems to be a perceptible shortfall in such opportunities and processes. This knowledge portal of the National Resource Cell for Decentralized District Planning (NRCDP) is a modest attempt to address this shortfall.
The NRCDDP has been launched as a part of the Government of India-United nations Joint Programme on Convergence (GoI-UNJPC). The programme is led by the Planning Commission of India, and supported by a number of UN agencies, most prominently
- the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) India. The programme furthers the objectives of the 11th Five Year Plan of the Government of India and UN support to the programme is guided by United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) India 2008-12. The programme is being implemented in seven focus States: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.