Opinion

Why P.V. Narasimha Rao Can be Called The ‘Chanakya’ of Modern Economic Reforms

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (popularly known as P.V.) (28th June 1921—23) December 2004 was an Indian lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of India, from 1991—1996.His ascendancy to the Prime Ministership was politically significant in that he was the first holder of this office from a non—Hindi speaking region,belonging to the southern part of India. He led an Important administration,overseeing a major economic transformation & several times held industries portfolio personally responsible for dismantling license Raj, He is often referred as the ‘Father of Indian Economic reforms’.

We find that future Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajapayee, Manmohan Singh, continued Economic reform policies pioneered by Rao’s government. He reversed the Socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi’s government. Rao was also referred as Chanakya for his ability to steer tough Economic & political legislation through the parliament at a time when he headed by a minority government. Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, described him as a “Patriotic stateman” who believed that nation is bigger than the political system. Kalam agrees to the fact of Nuclear test in 1996, but they were not carried out as Mr. Rao lost the General Election. Vajpayee-led NDA Government later conducted the test.

Mr. Rao’s term as PM was an eventful one in India’s history. He was solely responsible for a Paradigm shift from Mixed Economy model of Jawaharlal Nehru, to a Market driven one, during his period as Prime Minister we also the emergence of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a major right-wing party, asan alternate Party to Indian National Congress. Rao’s period also the destruction of Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in UP, where BJP’s Kalyan Singh was CM which saw the worst Hindu—Muslim riots in the country since Independence.The major Economic policies adopted by Rao :

Abolishing in 1992 the controller of capital issues which decided the prices & number of shares that firm could use.

He introduced the SEBI Act of 1992, which gave SEBI the legal authority to register & regulate all security Market Intermediaries.

In 1992, India’s Equity Markets to Investments by FIIs

In 1994, started National Stock Exchange as a computer based trading system, which acted as leverage to other stock exchanges.

The Rupee was made convertible on trade account.

FDI was encouraged by increasing the limit on share of foreign capital from 40-51—100%. Streamlining procedures for FDI approvals, automatic approving of projects within the limits of foreign participation.

The impact of these reforms may be gauged from the fact that total foreign Investment (including FDI, Portfolio Investment, & Investment raised on International Capital Markets.India grew from US$132 Mn in1991—1992 to $5.3bn in 1995—1996.Rao began Industrial Reforms with the Manufacturing sector,he slashed industrial Licensing, Leaving only 18 industries subject to licensing. Industrial regulation was rationalized. Mr. Rao energized the National Nuclear Security and ballistic missiles program, which resulted in 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests. He increased military spending &instructed India Army to fight against terrorism & Insurgencies. It was in his term we saw the defeat of terrorism in the state of Punjab. He launched the Look East foreign policy, which brought India closer to ASEAN. He decided to maintain a distance from Dalai Lama in order to avoid aggravating Beijing’s suspicions concerns, and made successful overtures of Tehran. The cultivate Iran policy was pushed by him vigorously. Mr. Rao’s crisis management after the 12th March 1993 Bombay bombings was highly praised. He personally visited Bombay after the blasts.

The Challenges Faced by Mr. Rao in Office

Economic crisis & Initiation of Liberalisation– He appointed Economist Dr. Manmohan Singh, a former governor of RBI, would benefit from liberalising its economy.

Handling Separatist Movements—Mr. Rao successfully decimated the Punjab separatist movement & Neutralized Kashmir separatist movement. It is also believed it was due to Mr. Rao Election was held at Punjab. Regarding Kashmir, Mr. Rao introduced (TADA), India’s first ant-terrorism legislation & directed Indian Army to eliminate the Infiltrators.

Babri Mosque Riots – In the late 1980’s the BJP, brought the Ramjanmabhoomi issue to the national politics, and BJP & VHP began organizing larger protests in Ayodhya and around the country. Liberhan Commission after hearing& investigation exonerated PV Narasimha Rao.

Latur Earthquake—In 1993, a strong earthquake in Latur, Maharashtra killed nearly 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Mr. Rao was applauded by many for usage of Modern Technology & resources to organise major relief operations throughout the state, and for schemes of Economic reconstruction.

Purulia Arms drop case—He was criticized for facilitating his safe exit of accused of 1995. Purulia Arms drop case, though it was never proved at all till now.  Narasimha Rao changed the name of the congress party from (Indira) to Indian National Congress, a symbolic move from one person to to its historic roots. It has been noted that under the current leadership of Sonia Gandhi the Congress party attempts to undermine Rao’s legacy on every occasion by denying him any credit for fostering Economic reforms in India. Even in 125th anniversary of Congress the party president Sonia Gandhi, she comp-lately ignored Mr. PV Narasimha Rao’s contributions. She praised all the contributions of Congress Prime Ministers Except PV Narasimha Rao.

P.V. Narasimha Rao’s Literary Achievements: Mr. Rao had great interest in Indian Literature among 16 languages. He was very fluent in many languages including his mother tongue, He was able to speak in 17 languages. He had his college education in Fergusson college Pune, he was well conversant the language Marathi.  In his later life, he wrote his autobiography, the insider, which depicts his experiences in politics.

Even now we find that the Congress president shows extreme reluctance to recognise the contributions of Mr. PV Narasimha Rao who played as a crusader for Economic reforms & also appointed Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister & gave him freedom to unveil the Economic reforms package to bail the Indian Economy out of an unprecedented Economic crisis. They were quick in blaming Mr. Rao for his political misjudgement on the Ayodhya issue, but it’s time to recognise the same for his contributions towards paving way for Economic Reforms.

PM Modi On June 28th 2016, paid tributes to former PM PV Rao on his 95th birth anniversary. PM Modi took to Twitter & Conveyed his greetings.

“Tributes to Shri PV Narasimha Rao on his birth anniversary. He led India at a crucial time & his leadership was both notable & Vital”, PM Modi tweeted.

His ascendancy to Prime minister ship was politically significant as he was the first holder of this office from non—Hindi speaking south India. It was an eventful one in the Nation’s History. His bold decisions made a change in basic assumptions from Nehruvian legacy of Mixed Economic model to Market driven one, his years as the PM also saw the emergence of Indian National congress. I find PM Modi whose nitis can be traced from Chanakyas Nitis Of his famous 3 Pronged Strategies—Politically, Strategically & Miltarily—from Rajyaniti, Lokniti, Runn niti & I find that PM Modi has already walked the three pronged strategies by taking people along with Economic Reforms on Demonetization, A Revolutionary & historic step for cashless & Digitized Economy. We can similar traces of Chanakyas Nitis in NarasimhaRao’s tenure as Prime Minister. All said & done when India’s polity has had such great Chanakya Niti sastraas followers No Evil Force can touch our Nation & break our faith and after writing about great political economic reformer like Mr. PV Narasimha Rao, I hope we continue his vision of Economic & bold reforms laid down by him, & now at present India is blessed to have a leader—PM Modi who has clear Intent & conviction to move towards India to a Transforming, Vibrant & progressive Economy—India Vikas Ki Aur. Vikas is the Essence of all Economic policies.

Jai Hind


Dr.S. Sukanya Iyer**

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