August 19, 2014 / 11:55 AM / in 3 years

India's Modi seeks ideas to replace Soviet-style planning

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacts during a meeting with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (not pictured) on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit at the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia July 16, 2014.Ueslei Marcelino/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's prime minister on Monday sought suggestions from the public to help re-fashion the Soviet-inspired central Planning Commission that supporters say is in line with a new, open style of governance.

Since he took over in May, Narendra Modi has promised to cut red tape, fight corruption and make India easier to do business in to get the economy moving after years of slowing growth.

Last week, he announced plans to replace the Planning Commission, a lingering vestige of India's early attempt to mimic the Soviet command economy, with a modern institution to reflect a shift to a market-based economy where the states were the main drivers of growth rather than a central body.

"We envision the proposed institution as one that caters to the aspirations of 21st century India and strengthens participation of the states," Modi said in a Twitter post, inviting public participation in the rebuilding of the body.

He said people could post their comments on the shape of the new institution on a portal he has launched to share ideas on issues of national importance.

The decision to involve the public is the latest of Modi's efforts to break down governance structures that Indians see as failing them.

He has chosen to communicate to people via Twitter and Facebook, shunning mainstream media. He has asked bureaucrats to approach him directly with their ideas, bypassing government protocols.

Modi says his measures are meant to improve the performance of a broken government. But his critics contend there is no sign of real change in the first 80 days of the new administration and that the shift so far has been only in style.

Modi won a landslide victory in general elections on a promise to revive economic growth that has fallen below 5 percent and control runaway prices.

So far, there have been little signs of more serious, big-bang reforms required for breaking out from a cycle of low growth and high inflation.

Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Nick Macfie

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