P. V. Narasimha Rao: The Father Of The Indian Economic Reforms
Half-Lion, How P. V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India is a book which I strongly recommend to every Indian out there, especially to the millennials.
This meticulously researched Biography not only tells us about the man who dismantled the License-Permit-Quota Raj of Indira Gandhi, but it also reveals that how his own party treated a former Prime Minister who should have been included in history books.
Chimpanzees have a memory span of only twenty seconds. The same I conclude about Indians. We seldomly give thought about those people because of whom we are able to enjoy the luxuries and comforts of the present, isn’t it.
The rests are either forgotten or we don’t care about the others. The same I can say about the Indian Prime Ministers.
Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, these names are quite familiar to us. Because, once they ruled over India as Prime Ministers.
Although, we have had other PMs too, but like the forgotten freedom fighters of Hindustan they also become oblivion to us.
P. V. Narasimha Rao was also one of those PMs whose memory and contributions were systematically removed from the pages of history.
But, as they say,
No force on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.
Kudos to the people like Vinay Sitapati who not only revived the mortal, Narasimha Rao but also gave the posterity to think other than the Nehru-Feroze Gandhi Clan.
Who was P. V. Narasimha Rao?
P. V. Narasimha Rao was the tenth Prime Minister of India (1991-96). And the father of the Indian economic reforms of 1991.
He was also the first prime minister from South India.
Early Life Of Rao:
Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was born on 28 June 1921 in the village of Vangara, Karimnagar district, Hyderabad.
The village where Rao was born was in the princely state of Hyderabad.
Born into the family of landlords, Rao was a brahmin by birth. His biological father owned 200 acres of land. But, when he was four years old he was given in adoption to a neighbouring family who owned 1200 acres of land.
With that adoption Rao became heir to the largest landholder of his village.
Rao was a bright child. In fact, he stood first in the entire state of Hyderabad (High school).
Later on he completed his further education from Pune and Nagpur.
Rao was a polyglot. He knew ten languages. Out of these ten languages three were foreign languages, Spanish, Persian and English.
As Rao was born in British India so it’s natural that he was also influenced by the currents of patriotism to free his motherland not only from the yoke of British imperialism, but also from the clutches of the The Nizam Of Hyderabad.
In the princely state of Hyderabad, political parties were banned by the Nizam. But, it didn’t mean that no one opposed the rule of nizam.
Communists, Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian National Congress worked alongside to fight against the rule of nizam.
Narasimha Rao also participated in the anti-nizam movement.
Although, when gained its independence on 15 August 1947, The State of Hyderabad was not a part of it. It became a part of the Indian union in September 1948 when Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel decided to annex it by using the military.
The code name which they used to assimilate Hyderabad into the Indian union was known as ‘Operation Polo’.
Entry into the political arena:-
P. V. Narasimha Rao contested the first loksabha elections of independent India as the Congress party candidate from Huzurbad constituency in Hyderabad State. But he lost his election to a communist party candidate.
But, later on in 1957 he became a member of the state legislature. And remained as a state legislator for sixteen long years.
Rao also served as the state minister for the state of Andhra Pradesh. But, in September 1971 he became Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. In fact, a nominated CM.
Indira Gandhi appointed him as a nominated CM. You might be thinking what’s a nominated CM.
So, a nominated CM is someone who has no local power base.
The same concept was used by the Daughter-in-law of Indira Feroze Gandhi, Sonia, when she nominated Dr Manmohan Singh for the post of PM in 2004.
I’m sure now you can connect the past with the present.
Although, Rao was removed from the post of CM after a short tenure of two years by none other than Indira Gandhi.
But, during his short tenure, Rao announced the land reforms in the state of Andhra Pradesh. And he himself surrendered 1000 acres of land out of 1200 to the District Magistrate, who had then distributed it to the landless.
In Rao’s village, every villager received two acres of land. Rao was also the first CM of Andhra who inducted a tribal into his cabinet.
In October 1974, Rao was appointed as the Congress General secretary and moved to New Delhi.
Rao realised very early during his political career that the first rule of the Delhi durbar that the monarch is never wrong.
When Indira Gandhi announced the National emergency on 26 June 1975, Rao was amongst those few congressmen who not only remained loyal to the Indira but they also never rebelled against the party.
A trait which Nehru-Feroze Gandhi Clan love the most.
This loyalty to Nehru-Gandhi family paid off when Indira made Narasimha Rao as the foreign minister of India.
In fact, in 1982, Mrs Gandhi considered him for the role of the president of India. But, somehow Giani Jail Singh became the President of India.
When Indira Gandhi launched the Operation Bluestar on 3 June 1984, at that time Narasimha Rao was in Jakarta on an official trip.
But, In July 1984, Indira made him the Home minister of India.
And as you know that New Delhi is a union territory. And the Delhi police is under the control of the Home minister of India.
When, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in October 1984. And with that started the Anti-Sikh pogrom throughout India, especially in New Delhi.
As a home minister of India, it was the responsibility of Narasimha Rao to save the Sikhs from the mob led by the Congress party workers.
But, he was bypassed by the PMO (Prime Ministers Office). This is what, Rajiv Gandhi said after the assassination of his mother,
”Whenever a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.”
Turning crisis into opportunity:
Rajiv Gandhi (1984-89) became the PM of India with the largest mandate in the history of independent India. His party won 404 seats out of 573 lok sabha seats. This record is unbroken until now.
Rajiv Gandhi was young, charismatic and heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. People thought that this man will undo the skewed economic policies of his mother which not only throttled the Indian economy but also made Indians more poor.
But, neither he had the guts nor the courage to dismantle the license raj of his mother. Although, he tried some babysteps to reform the economy but that was not enough.
Narsimha Rao was somehow misfit in the cabinet of praise addict Rajiv Gandhi. The latter preferred his Doon school friends over the seasoned congress politicians.
But, Rao had the abilities to mould himself according to the circumstances. He knew when to behave as a lion, fox or a mouse.
Somehow Rao managed to be in the good books of Rajiv Gandhi during the latter’s tenure as the PM.
But, things changed suddenly. Rajiv Gandhi lost the national elections of 1989. And Narsimha Rao thought that his career was over now.
In fact, in 1990, Rao almost accepted the post of a monastery as a head monk.
But, in May 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the suicide bombers of LTTE in Sriperumbudur, Tamilnadu.
Out of the blue, the race for the post of the PM started amongst the Congressmen.
And Narsimha Rao was selected as the Congress Party President after the death of Rajiv Gandhi.
The same man who almost accepted the post of a monk became the President of the Congress Party. Surreal.
Rajiv died while campaigning for the lok sabha elections. After his death the sympathy factor made congress the single largest party in the Lok Sabha and somehow Narsimha Rao managed to form the government.
In fact, Rao managed to achieve so much without being too much of power in his hand is a feat in itself.
Narsimha Rao’s government was the first minority government to complete five years in office.
The economic reforms of 1991 and P. V. Narsimha Rao:
When Rao became the PM of India in June 1991, the economic situation of India was so horrible that we have had only two weeks of foreign reserves for our imports. And a minimum safe level was considered six times of that amount, enough for at least 3-months worth of imports.
In fact, India deposited 21-tonnes of pure gold into the vaults of the Bank of England. In return for the dollars so that it allowed to delay default on its outstanding loans.
This is the economic mess which Rao had inherited from his predecessors. And the reason is the license raj of Indira Gandhi.
The three pillars of the license raj, State control of entire sectors, rules that prevented Indian businesses from growing, and isolation from global economic trade.
Although, some people will say that IMF (International Monetary Fund) forced India to change its economic policies. And Rao was the right man at the right place.
But, only naive and half read people will say such kind things because Rajiv Gandhi could’ve opened the Indian economy long ago but he didn’t. Indira Gandhi could’ve have changed the course of the Indian history by opening up the Indian economy for the world. But, they did nothing.
This is what Rao said to the managing director of IMF Michel Camdessus,
“I am willing to do whatever is good for the economy, as long as not one worker tells me that he has lost his job because of me.”
It was Narsimha Rao who grasped the gravity of the situation and silently dismantled the License-Permit-Quota Raj.
He made Dr Manmohan Singh as his finance minister. He made sure that no-nonsense people will be part of his team. And most importantly he never claimed credit for all of this.
He was leading a minority government. His own party was against the opening of Indian economy, and the vested interests who enjoyed the license raj were against it.
He convinced them all, and managed to save India and ushered a new dawn for the posterity.
Axis Bank, ICICI, HDFC and other private banks were given permission to operate in 1993. The first private airline, Jet Airways, took off in 1993.
Rao opened the telecom sector for the private sectors. In fact, the 1st mobile phone call was made in July 1995, it was between the telecom minister, Sukh Ram, and Jyoti Basu, the communist CM of west bengal.
In 1995, India also became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Rao realised the importance of private sector for the Indian economy. In fact, Narasimha Rao was the Indian PM who visited twice the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
This man not only saved the Indian economy but he also understood the importance of foreign policy when it comes to managing the economy.
Narasimha Rao was the first Indian PM who travelled to Korea and convinced the businessmen there to invest in India.
It was Rao’s prudence because of which India established full diplomatic relations with the state of Israel in 1992.
And according to Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narsimha Rao was the ‘True Father’ of India’s nuclear programme.
In 1995, India was about to conduct its nuclear tests. But, somehow, Rao withered and the passed the baton to Atal Bihari Vajpayee who exploded it in 1998.
Rao was not only a statesman but he was also a true patriot. Although, he was accused of corruption in the JMM case. Harshad Mehta made charges against him. And most importantly, Babri masjid was demolished under his watch.
But, it’s an irony that his own party treated him so badly. Not only he was removed from the pages of history, but Sonia Gandhi also made sure that Narsimha Rao become persona non grata.
Narasimha Rao and Nehru-Gandhi Clan :-
Narsimha Rao remained loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty until he became the Prime Minister.
It was because of his loyalty to this family which made him the President of the Congress party and later Prime Minister.
When Rao became PM at that time those sycophants or slaves of Nehru-Feroze Gandhi Clan who are not only burden on India and its people but these same people couldn’t digested the fact that how a non Nehru-Gandhi became the PM.
So, they started plotting against Rao. After the death of Rajiv Gandhi, his widow, The Italian born, Sonia Gandhi decided to stay away from politics for some time.
But, slaves are slaves. These durbaris wanted Sonia to take over the post of party president which she eventually took in 1998.
In fact, some of them wanted her to be the PM which she cunningly denied.
In the initial years of his tenure as PM, Rao regularly used to brief Sonia Gandhi on key issues. But, later Rao stopped and this didn’t go well with Sonia. The latter thought that the former were plotting against her family.
In fact, when the Congress party lost the national elections of 1996. Sonia Gandhi made sure that there was no person existed as such Narasimha Rao.
When Rao died on 23 December 2004, his body was not allowed to cremate in New Delhi. In fact, his body was denied entry into the headquarters of the Congress Party.
The Congress party official version gave Rajiv Gandhi for the credit of the liberalisation and Dr Manmohan Singh for the execution.
But, as they say in Hindustani,
सच को दबाया जा सकता है, मिटाया नहीं जा सकता है
(The truth can be suppressed, cannot be erased.)
At present, India is the world’s sixth largest economy. This couldn’t have been possible without the vision of P. V. Narasimha Rao.
Dr Manmohan Singh once said, History will be more kinder to me. The same can be said about his political guru, P. V. Narasimha Rao.
I hope you like this, Thanks for Reading, Jai Hind.
My Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)
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