Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Forgotten Hero of the Indian Reform Story

Forgotten Prime Minister. Forgotten Chanakya of Modern India who lead a minority government for 5 years and changed the face of Independent India.

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004) was an Indian lawyer, politician and freedom fighter[1] who served as the ninth Prime Minister of India (1991–1996)and served asChief Minister of Andhrapradesh(1971-09-30 – 1973-01-10). He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation and several home incidents affecting national security of India. Rao who held the Industries portfolio was personally responsible for the dismantling of the License Raj as this came under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He is often referred to as the "Father of Indian Economic Reforms". Future prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh would continue the economic reform policies pioneered by Rao's government. Rao accelerated the dismantling of the License Raj, reversing the socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi's government. He employed Dr. Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister to embark on historic economic transition. With Rao's mandate, Dr. Manmohan Singh launched India's globalization angle of the reforms that implemented the International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies to rescue the almost bankrupt nation from economic collapse. 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.

Narasimha Rao was termed as the best Prime Minister after former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri who crafted India's post-Cold War diplomacy and economic reforms. According to Natwar Singh "Unlike Nehru his knowledge of Sanskrit was profound. Nehru had a temper, PV a temperament. His roots were deep in the spiritual and religious soil of India. He did not need to Discover India". According to Vajpayee, when he became the PM in 1996 P.V.N.Rao handed him a piece of paper which simply stated 'Bomb is ready. You can go ahead.’ Former President Kalam described Rao as "patriotic statesman who believed that the nation is bigger than the political system". Even APJ Abdul Kalam acknowledged that Rao in fact asked Kalam to get ready for nuclear tests in 1996 but it was not carried out as government at center got changed due to elections and it was later carried out by Vajpayee led NDA government. In fact Rao briefed Vajpayee on nuclear plans. Rao's term as Prime Minister was an eventful one in India's history. 

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