The central theme, of the Seventh Plan was improvement in productivity and optimum utilisation of capacities within the framework of the overall objective of growth with social justice.
In addition, programmes and policies were formulated with the following objectives in view:
(i) To ensure adequate supply of wage goods and mass consumption articles at reasonable prices
(ii) To concentrate on the development of industries with large domestic market and export potential
(iii) To usher in ‘sunrise’ industries with high growth potential and relevance to our needs and
(iv) To evolve an integrated policy towards self-reliance in strategic fields and opening up of avenues for employment of skilled and trained manpower.
The plan set a target of 8% growth per annum in industrial production. To make this possible, productivity and viability of industry was improved, modernisation and up gradation of technology undertaken and input efficiency increased. Industry was restructured with a shift towards high technology.
Infrastructure was improved so that created assets could be used more efficiently.
The policy frame involved same basic changes in the inherited approaches. The public sector became much more dynamic and competitive. The expertise available in this sector enabled it to play the role of the leader in modernisation and development of ‘sunrise’ industries and export. This change in the role of public sector meant greater management autonomy, closing down of inefficient units and radical restructuring of the rest.
The plan advocated further liberalisation of industrial regulations keeping in view the need of productivity, scale economies and efficiency. It also pleaded for a unified approach to small, medium and large industries instead of the compartmentalised approach followed hitherto. This meant that the reservation of areas for the small scale sector was reviewed.
The complementarities of the sectors were kept in mind so that the growth avenues were harmonsied and optimised. Similarly, the policies and programmes at the centre and in the states as well as various ministries/agencies at various levels were coordinated and integrated to the extent possible.
The backward area subsidy was specially reviewed as they had become counter-productive. To this extent, location of industries near the small district towns which were not industrialised so far were promoted with a view to removing regional disparities and encouraging dispersal of industries. Industrial sickness and eventual mortality was accepted as a price for healthy, competitive growth and measures to mitigate their ill effects were devised.
The total investment in the industrial sector was 12.5% of the total plan outlay of 7th Five year Plan. The industrial scenario during the 7th Plan can be declared a success as a review of the progress of the 7th Plan reveals that the annual growth rate of the industrial sector including mining, manufacturing and electricity-generation during the 7th Plan was 8.5% which though marginally lower than targeted 8.7% was much higher than Sixth Plan.