The mind raising this question, must be either against Arun Jaitley serving as the Finance Minister of India, or rather he has raised it with an intention to clear off all those misconceptions of Arun Jaitley, not being an Economist. Or another point of view can also be towards Arun Jaitley being serving under PM Narendra Modi Government! These questions reflect the ideology of many Indians like:
Not understanding the true scope of Democracy and the Constitution of India. Or Robin hood mindset where someone who better than me should be in power and solve my problems instead of me accountable to solve my problems.
Well before we go into analyzing the answer, let’s have a quick glance at who has served the post of Finance Minister of India, before Arun Jaitely could take over. This glance is not just a glance over their names alone, but also a tour over their education and qualification before they could take over the post of India’s Finance Minister.
From 1947 to 1958:
R.K. Shanmukham Chetty was a lawyer as well as an Economist. John Mathai was an Economist. C.D. Deshmukh was a civil servant who had served as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. T.T. Krishnamachari was an entrepreneur who also founded NCAER, India’s first independent economic policy institute. So far the record has been good until the time comes when the Former Prime Minister Nehru enters the court!
The time when Krishnamachari was sacked & Nehru presented the 1958 budget was the time when cicumstances changed . He led the finance portfolio for a month without having any clue about it. Nehru was not an Economist.
From 1958 to 1963:
Morarji Desai was India’s Finance Minister. He led the same ministry again for two more years from 1967 to 1969. He was sacked when he opposed Indira Gandhi’s decision to Nationalize banks.
If you have a closer look, Expertise in the subject did not matter under Congress Government. There was a certain hierarchy of ministerial posts & these posts were allocated depending on how powerful one is in the party. This is just one of the reasons why one gets a particular Ministry. So far, this is the trend followed under Congress Dynasty in India. Next came,Sachindra Chaudhuri who was a Businessman.
It was then the Congress Lady, Indira Gandhi who led the Finance ministry for about a year. Indira Gandhi again not an Economist. She had economics as one of the subjects in her days at the Oxford but that doesn’t make you an Economist.
Lawyer Yashwantrao Chavan was the FM. His successor C. Subramaniam too was a lawyer. Then, you get H.M Patel, a civil servant who majored in Economics. Next came Charan Singh was a lawyer. H.N. Bhauguna had an Arts degree & R. Venkataraman was also a lawyer. Pranab Mukherjee was not an Economist. He has degrees in law, Political Science and History but not Economics.
The next came V.P. Singh had but he definitely was no Economist. Rajiv Gandhi was a Pilot. N.D. Tiwari had a Law degree & so did Shankarrao Chavan. Madhu Dandvate was a physicist. Yashwant Sinha was not an Economist but he learned quite a bit when he worked at the Indian Embassy’s Commercial department for 7 years. Manmohan Singh was an Economist. We all know that. Then came Jaswanth Singh, an officer in the Indian Army. P Chidambaram, again is a lawyer of course with an education in Business Administration.
Now, among all these above names you must notice a common thing that runs around. Did you keep the count? Out of about 30 Finance Ministers of India till now, only 7 or 8 were qualified to be Finance Ministers. This includes Economists, Businessmen, Entrepreneurs or civil servants who had worked in similar capacities. Only four or five were Professional Economists qualified to be there in the position.
Arun Jaitley Chosen as Finance Minister..
Now, is Jaitley being targeted only because he serves under PM Modi? Or because he is working for the BJP Government? While post and education did not matter since past 6 decades in India, why is it being a matter of argument now? Just because some of his decisions have been against goodwill of Congress?
It is a basic thing to understand that, Arun Jaitley comes to Parliament and reads the Finance Bill or Budget, that does not mean he has written it on his own without consulting the concerned specialists and has his command on it! There are a whole lot of IAS, IRS and expertise in the concerned field, analyzing the decision before it is revealed. These people spend time throughout the year and compile it!
What a Finance minister gives is a framework and outlines what the Government wants to do over a period and to do that he needn’t be an expert in that field. Just like a CEO of a company who may be an Engineer by qualification but can give strategies to drive revenues. He should be bold enough to make some key decisions and the rest these civil servants will handle the task accordingly.
Credits: KS Abhinav