Economic planning is concerned with the effective and optimal utilisation of the potential resources of an economy. This is particularly so in the context of underdeveloped countries which are striving to raise the standard of living of the masses. In fact, planning is a process aiming not merely at the best utilisation of material resources but also at the development of human faculties and institutional framework suitable to the needs and aspirations of the people.
The establishment of Planning Commission in 1950 heralded a new era in the economic history of India. It makes an assessment of the material, capital and human resources of the country, including technical personnel, and investigates the possibilities of augmenting such of these resources as are found to be deficient in relation to the requirements of the country. It, then, formulates a Plan for the most effective and balanced utilisation of these resources. India's First Five Year Plan was launched on April 1, 1951. Since then, eleven Five Year Plans have been completed and the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17) is underway.