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Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

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    Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    PVNarasimha Rao

    One of the best statesman of the last century, one who undid the wrongs of past four decades and the architect of modern India is the least talked about person in India today. This thread would be dedicated to his legacy, shortcomings and strengths. He too headed a minority government at one of the most turbulent times in Indian history and steered it through like a fine helms man.

    He was not only a great politician but what attracted me first to him was his command over so many languages: Telugu, Hindi, Urdu, Oriya, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Greek, Latin and Persian.

    This is the first paragraph from Wikipedia:
    P. V. Narasimha Rao - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Pamulaparti Venkata "Narasimha Rao" (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004) was an Indian lawyer, politician, and activist who served as the ninth Prime Minister of India (1991–1996).[1] He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation and several home incidents affecting national security of India.[2] Rao who held the Industries portfolio was personally responsible for the dismantling of the Licence Raj as this came under the purview of the Industries Ministry.[3] He is often referred to as the "Father of Indian Economic Reforms".[4] Rao accelerated the dismantling of the license raj, reversing the socialist policies under the government of Rajiv Gandhi. He is best remembered for employing Dr. Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister. Dr. Manmohan Singh launched India's globalization angle of the reforms that implemented the IMF policies to rescue the almost bankrupt nation from economic collapse.[3] Rao was also referred to as Chanakya for his ability to steer tough economic and political legislation through the parliament at a time when he headed a minority government.
    Please jump in if you know anything about the guy.


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    Last edited by Sakal Gharelu Ustad; 12-06-12 at 04:08 PM.

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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    Tearing down Narsimha Rao

    Justice Liberhan has delivered only two real surprises in his report. It is also entirely understandable why only one has been taken note of in political debate. That, indeed, is his repeated censure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But the other real surprise, in fact even bigger and more significant than the somewhat gratuitous indictment of Vajpayee, has gone unnoticed — and that is entirely understandable too. In fact, the Liberhan Commission’s total exoneration of Narasimha Rao has left the BJP cold, the left-secular intelligentsia stunned, and the Congress confused.

    You can understand why the BJP does not care. You can also understand the indifference of the left-secular intelligentsia, because they had always led the canard that Rao was somehow complicit in that crime, that he was a closet Jan Sanghi. Pull down his dhoti, and you will find a pair of khaki shorts, they would say. But why is the Congress silent and unwilling to even acknowledge with a sense of vindication if not joy that they, their government and their prime minister were not to blame, and have been unfairly pilloried and punished for a crime Justice Liberhan says they never committed? That’s because the commission destroys the canard they themselves have built against their own party. They did it not because they really believed Rao was a bigot and complicit in the destruction. Most of them (remember the ones who broke away from the party in the name of genuine secularism then?) saw it as a great excuse to pressure the then hands-off Sonia Gandhi to bless an insiders’ coup, and replace Rao, preferably with Arjun Singh. Rao survived many internal coup attempts, but never recovered from the damage. In 1998, Sitaram Kesri even denied him a ticket to contest for the Lok Sabha.

    Those who knew Rao well, including, I dare say, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, would never doubt his secular commitment. That he was a believer, visited temples, participated in rituals is also well known, and does not undermine that commitment. It is much easier for a non-believer to be secular. He was also cast in the old mould of Indian politics. So he would keep open communication and relationships with all sides, including the BJP. In fact, he had a particularly warm relationship with Vajpayee — remember that exchange at a political function where he described Vajpayee as a “guru” in politics and Vajpayee said Rao, instead, was the guru of gurus, “guru ghantaal”? But if anybody says he celebrated secretly when Babri fell, he does this complex and fascinating, wise but cynical, and patriotic but venal politician a great injustice.

    But, for a long time, there were so many stories floating around about his “complicity” and these were mostly believed. Why did he take the BJP leaders’ word that Babri won’t be harmed? Why did he not go over the state government’s head to order Central forces to open fire? Why did he not at once dismiss Kalyan Singh’s government and take control of the state? The conclusion therefore was that deep down he was happy that Babri had been destroyed.

    Politicians become much nicer beings when out of power, particularly if you are willing to go spend time with them in their years of wilderness. And I did that a few times with Rao, particularly during some periods of great crisis, notably the war in Kargil. I would land up in his Motilal Nehru Marg home (where Chief Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla now lives) and ask him: so how would Narasimha Rao have handled this crisis? He was out of politics, so I did not feel the pressure to be judgmental about him. But he was a wise man with six decades of experience and a remarkable memory. So as a student of political history you always learnt something. He was facing so many court cases, from corruption to bribery (he was eventually acquitted in all) and was left to fend for himself. Lonely, in a mostly empty home with some books, newspapers, an old treadmill and just a few pieces of creaky furniture and a computer as his only possessions, he was usually happy to see me. He enjoyed telling stories like a lonely grandfather. Sometimes he laughed at his own fate. His most memorable line to me, talking about the many cases he was facing, was: koyi kehta hai maine murgi churayee, koyi kehta hai murgi ke ande, par sab kehte hain ke hoon to chor (somebody says I stole the hen, some say I stole the eggs, but they all agree I am a thief anyway). And he would then laugh, almost giggle, for just about 15 seconds.

    He knew I was always pumping him for information, and sometimes asked if I went home and noted it down some place. With time he dropped some reserve and spoke more freely about a lot that happened in the past, a political historian’s delight. But on two issues he would go absolutely quiet: on what happened in the winter of 1996 when The New York Times said he had prepared to test at Pokharan but pulled back under American pressure, and second, when I probed him on how exactly did he lose control in Ayodhya. On Ayodhya, he would say, he will tell the commission whatever he has to say. On Pokharan, he would just say, arre bhai, kuchch to mere saath chita mein jaane do (leave something to take to my pyre).

    But one afternoon, when I had dropped by in the middle of the Kargil war, he opened up on Ayodhya and gave his answers to the common questions listed earlier in this article. Why did he not ask the Central forces to open fire? What were the mobs attacking the mosque shouting, he asked, “Ram, Ram”? What would the soldiers opening fire at them have been chanting to themselves while following my orders to kill maybe hundreds — “Ram, Ram?” Reading the confusion on my face, he said, what if some of the troops turned around and joined the mobs instead? It could have unleashed a fire that would have consumed all of India. Then: why did he not dismiss Kalyan Singh? Mere dismissal, he said, does not mean you can take control. It takes a day or so appointing advisors, sending them to Lucknow, taking control of the state. Meanwhile, what had to happen would have happened and there would have been no Kalyan Singh to blame either. And why did he trust BJP’s leaders? “It was Advani,” he said, “and he will be made to pay for it.” This was obviously a reference to how he had trapped a totally innocent Advani in the Jain hawala case. One thing you wouldn’t associate with Rao was forgiveness.

    He surely failed as prime minister to prevent the tragedy at Ayodhya. But his rivals in the Congress did their own party such disservice by spreading the canard that his (and their) government was responsible for that crime. This, more than anything else, lost them the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and gifted Mulayam Singh Yadav the “M” for his M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) vote bank. It is this lost vote bank that Rahul Gandhi is now trying to win back. But any dispassionate reading of recent political history will tell you that this is a self-inflicted injury. The Congress has itself built a mythology whereby the Muslims have come to hold their party as responsible for Babri as the BJP. And since they always voted against the BJP anyway, now they could only punish the Congress.

    If you take Justice Liberhan’s indictment of so many in the BJP seriously, you cannot at the same time dismiss his exoneration of Rao, and the government, and the Congress Party under him. You surely cannot put the clock back on so much injustice done to him, like not even allowing his body to be taken inside the AICC building. But the least you can do now is to give him a memorial spot too along the Yamuna as one of our more significant (and secular) prime ministers who led us creditably through five difficult years, crafted our post-Cold War diplomacy, launched economic reform and, most significantly, discovered the political talent and promise of a quiet economist called Manmohan Singh.
    Tearing down Narasimha Rao - Indian Express
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    Give Narasimha Rao his due - Views - livemint.com

    Renouncing one of its most successful prime ministers at the altar of expediency and defending Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “secular” credentials is a feat only the Grand Old Party of India is capable of accomplishing. The Liberhan commission report, by exonerating Narasimha Rao and censuring Vajpayee, had put the Congress in a quandary. After all, the meta-narrative of the post-Rao years has been that the demolition of Babri Masjid was Rao’s fault. For this, Rao was not merely punished but humiliated. Even in his death, he remained persona non grata with even his body not being allowed to be taken inside the All India Congress Committee building. Now, the debate in Parliament on this report has made it amply clear that the focus of the Congress’ defence will remain attacking Rao.

    It is not difficult to decipher why the Congress has over the years created this myth that Rao was a closet sympathizer of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. This allowed the Congress to absolve its rank and file of all the blame and make Rao a convenient scapegoat. It is neatly forgotten that it was Rajiv Gandhi’s government that opened the locks and performed shilanyas (ground-breaking ceremony) at the disputed site.

    Being one of the most successful non-dynasty prime ministers is not something the Congress can accept easily.


    Clearly, as prime minister, Rao failed in his duty to protect the disputed structure in Ayodhya. But his failure was also the failure of the entire brass of the Congress, who were part of the government and decision-making process. And it’s a failure of the age-old Congress policy of using religion for political mobilization. To blame Rao for the Ayodhya fiasco, therefore, is not only dishonest, but also disgraceful. More importantly, Rao’s failure cannot be an excuse to deprive him of all the credit that is his due as the nation’s prime minister at one of the most difficult times in its contemporary history.

    The early 1990s was a time when a succession of weak governments had left India rudderless—economically, politically and strategically. The world was changing rapidly and the Indian economy was collapsing. India was facing a million mutinies and there was no one of national stature to stem the tide. The Mandal-Mandir discourse— controversies surrounding caste reservations and Ayodhya—was threatening to unravel the country. It was at such a juncture that Rao assumed power. He had scant support from the senior party leadership of his own party, all of whom had their own aspirations to become prime minister.

    Despite the caricature of Rao being indecisive, he was one of the most decisive leaders this nation has seen. On all crucial issues, he took decisions that have continued to shape India’s rise over the last two decades. Manmohan Singh may be touted as the father of Indian economic reforms; but as Singh has himself acknowledged, it was Rao who fathered the process. Singh was an economic technocrat with little understanding of political constraints. It was Rao who shielded Singh from the left wing of his own party, a flank that had left no stone unturned in opposing the economic liberalization programme. Rao made economic reforms politically tenable at a time when his own party was out to scuttle his most ambitious undertaking. How ironical, then, that today the same Congress-wallahs try to take credit for India’s economic success without acknowledging Rao’s role.

    The other major challenge that India faced in the early 1990s was on the foreign policy front. The world had suddenly become unipolar, with India’s main ally, the Soviet Union, virtually disappearing from the world map. Recognizing that India would need the support of the West—especially the US—if the economic reforms were to succeed, Rao laid the foundations for a revival of US-India ties, acknowledging the importance of the US in the global strategic architecture. But he was clear that India needed other major powers as well: Hence his attempts to manage ties with China and Russia even at a time when Russia was widely viewed as a power on an irreversible downward spiral. In West Asia, Rao had courage no other Indian leader has displayed. He established full diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 even as he reached out to Iran, paying a landmark visit to Tehran in 1993— the first Indian prime minister to do so since the 1979 revolution.

    Rao was also the initiator of India’s “Look East” policy. He understood early on that the centre of gravity of global economics was shifting to the East and that India’s economic future needed to be linked to the booming economies in East Asia. He expanded India’s engagements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations not only as a matter of India’s economic revival, but also as a counterweight to rising Chinese dominance.

    On the internal security front under Rao, the Punjab situation improved markedly and the Indian security forces got a handle on the Kashmir insurgency—even as Rao revived that state’s political process.

    For all this, Rao has only received contempt from his party colleagues. Being one of the most successful non-Nehru-Gandhi prime ministers is not something that Congress-wallahs can accept easily. In their deference to the dynasty, they have vilified Rao, a sagacious and wily leader who led this nation like few others. Hopefully, history will restore him to a place that he truly deserves—as one of the most remarkable leaders of modern India.
    Last edited by Sakal Gharelu Ustad; 12-06-12 at 04:09 PM.

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    Achievements of PVN includes putting India on the highway to growth and Indian nuclear program. NDA govt carried out the tests but it was PVN who laid the foundations. A shining example of putting national interests before politics. Sadly it's the only example.
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    As Industry Minister and Prime Minister in 1991 he pushed through the required legislation for reforms in Parliament. He also brought aboard Congress men who would have opposed the reforms through his people skills [apparently he was advised to add a few paras at the end as to how the reforms would be in line with the great thoughts of Nehru and Indira Gandhi!]. Manmohan Singh at that time was his third choice for Finance Minister after the first two had not taken the job. Manmohan Singh was more of an implementor to Narasimha Rao's plans than the leader of the reforms. PVN Rao arguably is one of the best Prime Ministers we have had, he had the guts to push through unpalatable reforms against opposition from his own party members.
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    This fact surprised me.

    Rao rarely spoke of his personal views and opinions during his 5-year tenure. After his retirement from national politics Rao published a novel called The Insider (ISBN 0-670-87850-2). The book, which follows a man’s rise through the ranks of Indian politics, resembled events from Rao’s own life.

    According to a vernacular source, despite holding many lucrative posts he faced many financial troubles. One of his sons was educated with the assistance of his son-in-law. He also faced trouble in paying fees for a daughter of his who was then studying medicine.According to PVRK Prasad, an IAS officer who was Narasimha Rao's media advisor when the latter was Prime Minister, Rao asked his friends to sell away his house at Banajara hills to clear the dues of advocates.[64] Rao was afraid of dying before clearing his dues to the lawyers.
    Can someone help in translating this from Telugu and write the crux of the article:
    WELCOME :: GREATANDHRA.COM - nindala palayina apara chanakyudu...
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    Rao was ‘true father’ of Indian bomb, says Vajpayee

    Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan
    Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said on Sunday that his predecessor PV Narasimha Rao was the “true father” of India’s nuclear programme.

    Participating at a writers’ convention in Gwalior, an emotional Vajpayee said that when he assumed the prime minister’s office in 1996 (the 13-day stint), he received a paper from his predecessor urging him to continue the country’s nuclear programme. “Rao had asked me not to make it public; but today when he is dead and gone, I wish to set the record straight.”

    He said, “Rao told me that the bomb was ready. I only exploded it. I did not miss the opportunity.” Vajpayee said the Congress party also wanted a strong India to counter Pakistan and China. “In foreign policy matters, they never lacked a commitment.”

    “The country’s nuclear programme was never halted,” he said, adding that he considered Rao the “father of the country’s nuclear programme”. Rao was often accused of wilting under US pressure to call off the nuclear test. In a recent book, former US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbot claimed that president Bill Clinton’s hectic, behind-the-scene diplomatic efforts had dissuaded Rao from conducting the test.

    Vajpayee said there were several reasons why he decided in favour of going nuclear. The government had full knowledge that Pakistan was making similar efforts, he said. “Moreover, we could never ignore the China factor, too.”However, he clarified that nuclear power was never meant to be used. “It acts as a powerful deterrent and has its own advantages,” Vajpayee said, before reading out some of his favourite poems.
    Portrait of Rao as N-architect


    The credit that former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee reportedly gave this week to his predecessor P.V. Narasimha Rao for building India’s nuclear weapon programme was long overdue.

    Few obituaries to Rao have noted his role in preserving and expanding India’s nuclear options at a very crucial stage.

    Nor has there been much debate on why Rao chose to hold back in December 1995 after so painstakingly preparing the ground for the nuclear tests. Had Vajpayee acknowledged Rao’s contribution on May 11, 1998 when the first round of Pokhran-II took place, the ensuing domestic political division could have been avoided.

    Nor would there be reason today to discuss which government was responsible for pushing Indian nukes ‘‘out of the tube’’. The reality is that the Indian bomb was as much a project of the Congress as it was of the BJP.

    Jawaharlal Nehru for all his commitment to peace and disarmament refused to give up India’s right to make nuclear weapons. After the first Chinese test in October 1964, barely months after Nehru died, the Congress demanded the bomb in a resolution at the AICC session in Durgapur in 1965.

    Indira Gandhi conducted the first nuclear test in May 1974 but chose to call it a ‘‘peaceful nuclear explosion’’. It was Rajiv Gandhi who finally decided to make India a nuclear power in 1988.His successors, V.P. Singh and Chandrasekhar, are in a position to confirm Rajiv Gandhi’s decision having each received a paper on the state of India’s nuclear programme at the beginning of their tenures.

    The decision to go nuclear in 1988 was secret. The question after Rajiv Gandhi was when and how India would come out of the nuclear closet. Every nuclear programme faces its most dangerous moments in its initial phases. That precisely is what Rao confronted in 1991. The end of the Cold War and the international concerns on non-proliferation resulted in relentless pressures from the US to cap India’s nuclear programme.

    It’s his view, says Congress

    • New Delhi: Asked about A.B. Vajpayee’s statement on P.V. Narasimha Rao’s contribution to the Nuclear Programme, Congress spokesperson Girija Vyas said, ‘‘This is his own view.’’ She refused to say anything on why the BJP leader was now giving credit to Rao.
    Rao’s mandate to his foreign secretary J.N. Dixit (1991-94) was to buy time and space for India’s bomb programme.

    Together Rao and Dixit, now the national security adviser, devised a variety of diplomatic strategems to resist international pressures without confronting the US head-on and thus gained valuable time for Indian scientists to come up with a credible programme of nuclear tests, including the Hydrogen bomb.

    The appointed day arrived in mid-December 1995. The nuclear devices were already put into the L-shaped hole dug for the purpose in Pokhran desert. The Ministries of External Affairs and Finance had estimated of the costs of US sanctions that would have followed. The officer in the MEA specialising in the nuclear issue had a prepared statement in his drawer justifying India’s decision.

    As US satellite pictures began to show Indian preparations for the test, the New York Times broke the story about India’s plans to test on December 15. After two days, India finally declared it had no intention to test.Had Rao tested in 1995, India’s political history might have been different. With elections due in mid-1996, the nuclear card could have possibly returned Rao to power. Yet, inexplicably Rao chose not to. Some say he succumbed to US pressure. Others say he was concerned about Pakistan’s reaction and the economic consequences.

    Nuclear ambivalence summed the man that Rao was — laying foundations for the transformation of India’s security, foreign and economic policies, but holding back at key moments.

    The eulogies to Rao might have missed his nuclear role. But when the history of India’s nuclear programme is written, Rao will figure prominently. It was just as well that Vajpayee has underlined Rao’s contribution.
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    One who initiated the Look East Policy!
    521707 386141578096536 1414399079 n
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    Unsung hero of the India story Swaminomics

    Unsung hero of the India story


    Twenty years ago, Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister and initiated economic reforms that transformed India. The Congress party doesn’t want to remember him: it is based entirely on loyalty to the Gandhi family, and Rao was not a family member. But the nation should remember Rao as the man who changed India, and the world too.

    In June 1991, India was seen globally as a bottomless pit for foreign aid. It had exhausted an IMF loan taken six months earlier and so was desperate. Nobody imagined that, 20 years later, India would be called an emerging superpower, backed by the US to join the UN Security Council, and poised to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy.

    For three decades after Independence, India followed inward looking socialist policies aiming at public sector dominance. The licence-permit raj mandated government clearance to produce, import or innovate. If you were productive enough to create something new or produce more from existing machinery, you faced imprisonment for the dreadful crime of exceeding licensed capacity.

    Socialism reached its zenith in the garibi hatao phase of Indira Gandhi (1969-77), when several industries were nationalized and income tax went up to 97.75%. This produced neither fast growth nor social justice. GDP growth remained stuck at 3.5% per year, half the rate in Japan and the Asian tigers. India’s social indicators were dismal, often worse than in Africa. Poverty did not fall at all despite three decades of independence.

    In the 1980s, creeping economic liberalization plus a government-spending spree saw GDP growth rise to 5.5%. But the spending spree was based on unsustainable foreign borrowing, and ended in tears in 1991.

    When Rao assumed office, the once-admired Soviet model was collapsing. Meanwhile, Deng had transformed China through market-oriented reforms. Rao opted for market reforms too. He was no free market ideologue like Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher: he talked of the middle path. His model was Willy Brandt of Germany.

    His master stroke was to appoint Manmohan Singh as finance minister. Rao wanted a non-political reformer at the centre of decision-making, who could be backed or dumped as required. He presented Singh as the spearhead of reform while he himself advocated a middle path. Yet, ultimately, it was his vision that Singh executed.

    In his first month in office, the rupee was devalued. There followed the virtual abolition of industrial licensing and MRTP clearance. At one stroke, the biggest hurdles to industrial expansion disappeared. Who was the industry minister who initiated these revolutionary reforms? Narasimha Rao himself! He held the industry portfolio too.

    Yet he did not want draw attention to himself. So he ingeniously made the delicensing announcement on the morning of the day Manmohan Singh was presenting his first Budget. The media clubbed the Budget and delicensing stories together as one composite reform story. In the public mind, Manmohan Singh was seen as the liberalizer, while Rao stayed in the background.

    Singh initiated the gradual reduction of import duties, income tax and corporate tax. Foreign investment was gradually liberalized. Imports of technology were freed. Yet the overall government approach was anything but radically reformist. When bank staff threatened to go on strike, Rao assured them that there would be no bank privatization or staff reforms. When farmers threatened to take to the streets, Rao assured them there would be no opening up of Indian agriculture.

    The IMF and World Bank believed that when a country went bust, that was the best time for painful reforms like labour reforms. However, Rao took the very opposite line. He focused on reforms that would produce the least mass losers (such as industrial delicensing) and yet produced 7.5% growth in the mid-1990s. These gave reforms a good name, and ensured their continuance even when Opposition parties later came to power.

    In the 2000s, the cumulative effect of gradual reform finally made India an 8.5% miracle growth economy. Rao got no glory for this. He had lost the 1996 election amidst charges of buying the support of JMM legislators. This led to his exit as Congress chief. Although he was eventually exonerated by the courts, he died a political nobody.

    How unjust! He deserves a high place in economic history for challenging the Bank-IMF approach on painful austerity, and focusing instead on a few key changes that produced fast growth with minimum pain. The World Bank itself later changed its policy and started targeting “binding constraints” (like industrial licensing).

    Manmohan Singh said repeatedly that he could have achieved nothing without Rao’s backing. Today, 20 years after the start of India’s economic miracle, let us toast India’s most underrated Prime Minister — Narasimha Rao.
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    Re: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead

    Unsung hero of the India story Swaminomics

    Unsung hero of the India story


    Twenty years ago, Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister and initiated economic reforms that transformed India. The Congress party doesn’t want to remember him: it is based entirely on loyalty to the Gandhi family, and Rao was not a family member. But the nation should remember Rao as the man who changed India, and the world too.

    In June 1991, India was seen globally as a bottomless pit for foreign aid. It had exhausted an IMF loan taken six months earlier and so was desperate. Nobody imagined that, 20 years later, India would be called an emerging superpower, backed by the US to join the UN Security Council, and poised to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing economy.

    For three decades after Independence, India followed inward looking socialist policies aiming at public sector dominance. The licence-permit raj mandated government clearance to produce, import or innovate. If you were productive enough to create something new or produce more from existing machinery, you faced imprisonment for the dreadful crime of exceeding licensed capacity.

    Socialism reached its zenith in the garibi hatao phase of Indira Gandhi (1969-77), when several industries were nationalized and income tax went up to 97.75%. This produced neither fast growth nor social justice. GDP growth remained stuck at 3.5% per year, half the rate in Japan and the Asian tigers. India’s social indicators were dismal, often worse than in Africa. Poverty did not fall at all despite three decades of independence.

    In the 1980s, creeping economic liberalization plus a government-spending spree saw GDP growth rise to 5.5%. But the spending spree was based on unsustainable foreign borrowing, and ended in tears in 1991.

    When Rao assumed office, the once-admired Soviet model was collapsing. Meanwhile, Deng had transformed China through market-oriented reforms. Rao opted for market reforms too. He was no free market ideologue like Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher: he talked of the middle path. His model was Willy Brandt of Germany.

    His master stroke was to appoint Manmohan Singh as finance minister. Rao wanted a non-political reformer at the centre of decision-making, who could be backed or dumped as required. He presented Singh as the spearhead of reform while he himself advocated a middle path. Yet, ultimately, it was his vision that Singh executed.

    In his first month in office, the rupee was devalued. There followed the virtual abolition of industrial licensing and MRTP clearance. At one stroke, the biggest hurdles to industrial expansion disappeared. Who was the industry minister who initiated these revolutionary reforms? Narasimha Rao himself! He held the industry portfolio too.

    Yet he did not want draw attention to himself. So he ingeniously made the delicensing announcement on the morning of the day Manmohan Singh was presenting his first Budget. The media clubbed the Budget and delicensing stories together as one composite reform story. In the public mind, Manmohan Singh was seen as the liberalizer, while Rao stayed in the background.

    Singh initiated the gradual reduction of import duties, income tax and corporate tax. Foreign investment was gradually liberalized. Imports of technology were freed. Yet the overall government approach was anything but radically reformist. When bank staff threatened to go on strike, Rao assured them that there would be no bank privatization or staff reforms. When farmers threatened to take to the streets, Rao assured them there would be no opening up of Indian agriculture.

    The IMF and World Bank believed that when a country went bust, that was the best time for painful reforms like labour reforms. However, Rao took the very opposite line. He focused on reforms that would produce the least mass losers (such as industrial delicensing) and yet produced 7.5% growth in the mid-1990s. These gave reforms a good name, and ensured their continuance even when Opposition parties later came to power.

    In the 2000s, the cumulative effect of gradual reform finally made India an 8.5% miracle growth economy. Rao got no glory for this. He had lost the 1996 election amidst charges of buying the support of JMM legislators. This led to his exit as Congress chief. Although he was eventually exonerated by the courts, he died a political nobody.

    How unjust! He deserves a high place in economic history for challenging the Bank-IMF approach on painful austerity, and focusing instead on a few key changes that produced fast growth with minimum pain. The World Bank itself later changed its policy and started targeting “binding constraints” (like industrial licensing).

    Manmohan Singh said repeatedly that he could have achieved nothing without Rao’s backing. Today, 20 years after the start of India’s economic miracle, let us toast India’s most underrated Prime Minister — Narasimha Rao.
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    Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture,father of economic reforms

    HYDERABAD: Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao was a multi-faceted personality who provided great leadership to India at a crucial juncture, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.


    Delivering the inaugural P V Narasimha Rao Memorial Lecture organised by Hyderabad Media House, Mukherjee praised him for his political sagacity and farsightedness that benefited the country immensely.


    Rao was the father of economic reforms, architect of India's 'Look East' foreign policy and the leader who brought peace to terror-ravaged Punjab, the President said.


    Recalling his association with Rao, Mukherjee said it began in 1970s and continued till the former Prime Minister breathed his last in 2004.


    Both the leaders had worked together closely in Congress party and Union government in various capacities.


    Rao took over as Prime Minister at a time when Congress as ruling party did not have majority in Lok Sabha and the economy was in a crisis with foreign currency reserves plummeting to around USD one billion, Mukherjee said.


    Rao embarked on the path of economic reforms with boldness to steer the economy out of the problems and the selection of Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister was marvellous, he said.


    The country is benefiting even today from the economic reforms initiated by Narasimha Rao, Mukherjee said.


    Observing that Rao gave a new turn to the country's foreign policy, he said the 'Look East' policy, for which the initiative was taken by him, enabled ASEAN to emerge as a major trading partner of India.


    The Constitution had to be amended to extend President's rule in Punjab as elections could not be held due to terrorism, he said.


    Rao resolved the problem which was another display of his political sagacity and administrative competence. He succeeded in conducting elections in Punjab and the state is peacefully administered now, the President said.


    Mukherjee hoped that the memorial lecture would be an annual affair.


    Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Governor E S L Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Rao's daughter Vani Devi and sons P V Ranga Rao, P V Rajeswara Rao and P V Prabhakar Rao and other family members were present on the occasion.

    Rao's mastery over 16 languages is a rare feat which also enabled him to communicate effectively in north India and also get elected from Ramtek in Maharashtra, Mukherjee said.

    History will remember him as a leader who provided leadership to the country at a crucial juncture, he added.

    Recalling that his father Amarnath Reddy and late Narasimha Rao were colleagues, Kiran Kumar said he too had a close association with the former premier.

    Rao reposed immense faith in his father and showed great affection towards him as well, Reddy said, adding that the former also attended his marriage.

    Praising Rao's leadership qualities and multi-faceted personality, Rosaiah said he brought respect for Telugu people all over the world.
    Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture, was father of economic reform: Pranab - TOI Mobile | The Times of India Mobile Site
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    Re: Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture,father of economic ref

    Mr Peesident you didn't do anything when this great leader was sidelined in congress while sucking up to SG
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    Re: Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture,father of economic ref

    Rao garu lead from front in the reforms holding post of PM as well as Industry Minister and pushing through the required Acts in Parliament.

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    Re: Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture,father of economic ref

    It is true that Narashimha Rao was a visionary.

    Not only he brought about the economic 'revolution' but formulated the 'Look East' policy and started cooperation with Israel without upsetting the Arabs!

    I think Pranab is slightly peeved that he has been eased out of politics and put to pasture by being elevated as the President and also for being blamed for every ill of the UPA2.

    I think he is striking back at Sonia Gandhi because of this and he know well that the Gandhis disliked Rao immensely.

    Mukherjee, quite a few times, after he became President, spoke not in laudatory terms about Govt actions and instead did appear a bit off the Govt line of thought.
    Last edited by Ray; 31-12-12 at 07:58 PM.
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    Re: Narasimha Rao led India at crucial juncture,father of economic ref

    I started this thread to talk about Narasimha Rao: Bringing Narsimha Rao back from the dead
    May be we can merge the threads.

    I hope the guy will get his due respect in the future.

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