Planning for science and technology was a global phenomenon in the mid-twentieth century. A few countries drew up comprehensive five-year plans adapting from the Soviet model: China and India were two new developing countries to do so. In this paper we examine the early efforts at national planning for science and technology as seen in the Chinese twelve-year science and technology plan (1956–1967) and the five-year (1974–1979) science and technology plan of India. These are two historically distinct moments globally and two separate attempts specifically. What tie them together are the goals both sought to accomplish: of science- and technology-led industrialization and development, many times in comparison and sometimes in competition with each other. We show that these two incomplete exercises show us the complex histories of institutions and processes that confirm state-led faith in and engagement with science and technology.