When Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister of independent India, poverty and backwardness remained a problem. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he had always thought that India’s political liberation would be a prelude to its economic development. The targets of the First Five Year Plan (1951–6) were easily met without any inflationary pressures. The Second Five Year Plan (1956–61), formulated by Professor P.C. Mahalanobis, was the first systematic attempt at economic planning, and set the direction for government priorities and policies in the next thirty-five years. The Third Five Year Plan (1961–6) was a logical extension of the philosophy of the Second Five Year Plan. Even in his lifetime, Nehru was criticized by both the Right and the Left for his economic policies, which they argued favoured the private sector too much. Nehru’s critics urged him to live up to his faith in socialism and opposed the very concept of a ‘mixed economy’.
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