Friday, June 15, 2007

A tribute to P.V. Narasimha Raoji

One of my family friend’s daughter wrote to me last week that she got 4 jobs in top IT companies in India and asked me if she should take any of them or go for higher studies. This girl has just reached final year of engineering and she has 4 high paying jobs to choose from. This is India of the 21st century. Majority of the students studying for engineering have multiple offers even before completing their course work.

Who was the main architect who “designed” this change? Have we given enough recognition to that man who had the courage to dream about the benefits of economic liberalization and took concrete steps to make that dream a reality? The man I am talking about is P V Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister of India whose birthday falls in the month of June. This post is a tribute to this great politician who according to me was a true visionary a rare breed in Indian politics these days.

When Narasimha Rao took over as the 12th Prime Minister of India heading a minority Government, he was facing the worst economic crisis since independence. India was about to default in her international commitment to pay back the debts, the previous Government led by S Chandrasekhar had to pledge gold to pay the debts and inflation was going out of control. Narasimha Rao was about to retire from politics when fate – in the tragic form of assassination of Rajiv Gandhi – made him the Prime Minister of India.

Once he was elected the Prime Minister of India what was the first thing he did – having been part of the Government for more than two decades he could understand the gravity of the economic crisis facing the nation and appointed a bureaucrat Dr Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister. He had an option to choose from a long list of senior Congress leaders as Finance Minister – Sharad Pawar, Arjun Singh, Madhav Rao Scindia, N D Tiwari to name a few. But he selected a non politician at the crucial juncture of Indian history. For me this one decision by Rao changed the face of the country. All of us – the generation in the early 20’s to mid 30’s - who are enjoying the fruits of economic liberalization like a very good job, with a fat pay check or so many job offers from different countries – we should be thankful to this great man. If Rao had appointed another politician and did not do anything to open up the economy we may not have seen all these economic growth happening in India now.

Rao not only appointed Dr Singh as the Finance Minister but also gave him all the political support he needed to push his reforms. This political support from Rao was very important for Dr Singh as that Government was in a minority for most of its term. The importance of political support from Rao (who was the Prime Minister as well as AICC President at that time) can be gauged by the fact that Dr Singh as Prime Minister now is struggling to push the economic reforms as he is not getting enough political support from his party bosses and Left parties.

Rao has excelled in other fields also as the Prime Minister. His Government is instrumental in bringing peace back in Punjab. In the defense front he made all the ground work to make India a nuclear power – even though credit of actual nuclear test went to his successor Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The only real black spot in Rao’s tenure according to me happened on December 6th 1992, when Hindu fundamentalists (read RSS and BJP) demolished the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya. This incident will always remain as a black mark in the secular credentials of India. Rao failed to foresee that demolition was going to happen. I believe we can forgive him for this mistake he committed after considering all the good things he had done for our country.

At the fag end of his term, Rao was subjected to cruel media witch hunt. I remember reading in newspapers, pages and pages of stories about the various corruption and omissions committed by Rao (St Kitts forgery scandal, Lakhubhai Pathak cheating scandal, JMM bribery scandal to name few). He was painted a villain by the print and visual media. Even though he was cleared of all the charges by the highest court of the land he had to live with these allegations for the rest of his life.

Considering all the contributions Narasimha Rao has given to India’s development, especially to its growth as a major economic force in the world, I believe his name should be on par with great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. If Nehru and Gandhiji fought for India’s freedom from British I believe Rao fought and won the “economic freedom” – fruits of which we all are enjoying. So let us all pay a glowing tribute to him and remember this great man especially on this birthday which falls on June 28th.

“HAIL THIS GREAT SON OF INDIA FOR MAKING INDIA A MUCH BETTER PLACE TO LIVE”

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14 Comments:

Blogger Kuttan said...

He is one of those few good congress politicians who were independent of the Gandhi clan and he payed the price of being the outsider. Its sad that he died in ignominy. Even the Babari Masjid issue cannot be blamed totally at his feet. If you look close enough the issue started with a mis-step made my Rajiv Gandhi by opening it up. Even sad that we don't have those kinda of independent politicians in congress. All we have are a bunch of Gandhi clan sycophants who are trying to one up each other is showing their allegiance to the family.

June 15, 2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger Vijay Ramamurthi said...

thats tru..every body can be forgivevn..coz every body has done something nice :) arent we a nice bunch of ppl :) ...indians are great :)

June 15, 2007 7:27 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

kuttan
I cannot agree more with you. If a leader have to have a future in Congress then he has to be in good book with Gandhi family. If you are in good terms with Gandhi family then you can climb up the political ladder irrespective even election losses (Shivaraj patil lost elections but he is India’s Home Minister just because of his closeness to Gandhi family).

Vijay
Thanks for your sarcastic remarks.

June 15, 2007 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Padmakumar said...

He did nothing to stop the Masjid going down. I believe Central Government knew that before hand. The event changed the relationship between Hindus and Muslims forever.If the job of PM is to sit and do nothing when bad things happen, even I can be a PM.

June 16, 2007 9:20 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

padmakumar,
It is just one incident in which Rao made a mistake. There are so many good things he did and we have to appreciate that.

June 26, 2007 2:45 AM  
Blogger Sridhar Palepu said...

Hi Brijesh,
This is a great article on Mr.P.V.Narasimha Rao and all the Indians must remember forever his great contribution to the development of India.
He is the Architect of the Economic, Legal and Social development of India in 21st Century.
I do not think that the Babri Masjid demolition is a mistake of Mr.P.V.N. As we my recall, the magnitude of agitation created by BJP and RSS for Ram Temple was very huge. Moreover, Law & Order is the responsibility of State Government, Center Government can not interfere unless asked by State Government. One may also recall, Mr.Kalyan Singh who was the CM of UP during that time claimed responsibility for the demolition of Babri Masjid.
One last thing, I feel that many Indians do not understand the roles and responsibilities of CM, PM, MP, MLA etc.,

June 26, 2007 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Madhu said...

Brijesh,

Very thoughtful of you to remember one of our finest leaders on his birthday. Thank you.
Personally, I do not think let alone forgiving; nobody is qualified enough to even utter a word against Sri PV regarding his role in Babri issue. He probably did his best to stop it.

Let me point to a couple of articles by B.Raman ( see the bottom of my post for the URL).

According to Raman, the following are SOME of Sri Narasimha Rao's many achievements.

# Economic reforms. Throwing open the Indian economy and jettisoning the remnants of his predecessors's socialist policies.
(For finer details visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._V._Narasimha_Rao#Achievements)
# The end of terrorism in Punjab without conceding any of the terrorists' demands. There has been no terrorism in Punjab since 1995.
# The successful termination of many hijackings without conceding the terrorists' demands.
# His successful crisis management as home minister after Operation Bluestar in June 1984, during which the army raided the Golden Temple at Amritsar to neutralize a group of terrorists, who had taken possession of it.
# His refusal to concede the demands of the Kashmiri terrorists, who kidnapped Doraiswamy, an Indian Oil executive, and of the Sikh terrorists, who kidnapped Liviu Radu, a Romanian diplomat posted in New Delhi in October 1991, in order to secure the release from detention of some terrorists. Both the Kashmiri and Sikh terrorists were ultimately forced to release the hostages without their demands being conceded.
# His decision in 1992 to bring into the open India's relations with Israel, which had been kept secret since they were first established under Indira Gandhi's orders in 1969 and to permit Israel to open an embassy in New Delhi.
# His orders to the intelligence community in 1992 to start a systematic drive to draw the international community's attention to the Pakistan State-sponsorship of terrorism against India and not to be discouraged by the US efforts to undermine the exercise.
# His crisis management after the Mumbai blasts of March 12, 1993. He personally visited Mumbai after the blasts and after seeing evidence of the Pakistani hand in the blasts, ordered the intelligence community to invite the intelligence agencies of the US, UK and some other West European countries to send their counter-terrorism experts to Mumbai to see things for themselves. He felt that if they felt convinced about the Pakistani role they would at least tell their leaders even if they did not admit it to India.
# His handling, as prime minister, of the occupation of the Hazratbal holy shrine in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists in October 1993, and bringing it to an end without any damage to the shrine and of the kidnapping of some foreign tourists by Al Faran in J&K in 1995. He resisted pressure from various quarters to concede the demands of the terrorists in order to secure the hostages' release.
# His launching of the 'Look East' foreign policy, which brought India closer to ASEAN.
# Even while countering in a determined manner Pakistan's use of terrorism against India, keeping the lines of communications open at various levels. He met Nawaz Sharif, then the Pakistan prime minister between 1990 and 1993, at Davos, Jakarta and Harare and encouraged his officials to keep meeting their Pakistani counterparts to discuss matters of common concern such as smuggling of narcotics, border security etc. However, the meetings at the top political level came to a halt after Benazir Bhutto, who returned to power in 1993, repeatedly spurned his overtures for bilateral talks at the political level.
# His decision to maintain a distance from the Dalai Lama in order to avoid aggravating Beijing's suspicions and concerns and his successful overtures to Teheran. The 'cultivate Iran' policy was pushed through vigorously by him. These policies paid rich dividends in March 1994, when Benazir Bhutto's efforts to have a resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir failed for want of support from China and Iran.


URLS:
http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/dec/28raman.htm
http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/dec/28ram1.htm

June 26, 2007 11:53 PM  
Blogger Mads said...

t is to Rao's absolute credit that he did not merely initiate economic reforms but that he stayed the course. Believe it or not, Manmohan Singh was the first finance minister of India to present all the five budgets of his government, thus showing how difficult is the job of the finance minister (and the prime minister who has to back him).

No wonder, Singh has always said that all credit for economic reforms belong to Rao who took care of the politicians and vested interests baying for Singh's blood.

Rao's critics seek to deny credit to him by saying he was forced to do what he did, especially after the International Monetary Fund agreed to provide loans on the condition that India reformed its economy. But such critics miss a crucial point: Rao could have always taken a different road. He could have clamped a financial emergency (never applied in India till date) and announced harsh economic measures, something that was in fact done in the late 1960s and early 1970s when India faced an economic crisis. No one would have opposed such measures then.

What will always be Rao's credit is that he had the intelligence and the courage to take -- and stay on -- a different road.

June 27, 2007 12:14 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Sridhar palepu,
Last year around the same time I was so shocked that online community chose to forget the birthday of Narasimha Rao. That was the inspiration to write a blog on Narasimha Raoji.

Then about Ayodhya, agreed that law and order is the responsibility of state govt. the mistake which Narasimha Rao made was that he should have used the intelligence and should have understood that Kalyan Singh government is going to aid the demolishers.

Madhu,

Thanks for the extensive list of Narasimha Rao’s achievement. Just because he was not born in Nehru-Gandhi dynasty he is not getting the respect he deserves.

Mads,
The importance of political support Rao gave to Dr Manmohan Singh can be understood from the fact the same Manmohan Singh is struggling now as PM to push the economic reforms. He had the courage to think outside the box and that was how a major economic disaster was averted.

June 27, 2007 4:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nair,

i think this is a fitting tribute to one of the economic reformers of India. If it were not for this Great PM we would not have seen so much of development and modernization of India. I think people in India give credit to gundas and rowdys more than people who actually have done good things. Thats the sad state of our ideologies. for eg in TN where JJ was voted of on the basis of Color TVs and not on the past performances. But thats that. take care..

June 27, 2007 5:49 PM  
Blogger Jiby said...

Brijesh, i somehow missed this post. i was reading your earlier post and was thinking why the Congress denied the Presidency to Pranab Mukherjee and then I see your post on Rao and remember how it was Congressmen themselves who tried to erase Rao's memory and achievements from public memory.

Every once in a while, I keep reading in the media about Rao's foresight and just recently I remember reading in rediff how the Home Ministry wanted to disband a task force/intelligence/infrastructure group patrolling the Tawang sector of Arunachal and how he vetoed their recommendation. However they disbanded it after his time and now we are faced with an increasingly aggressive China on the North-East.

So long as the Gandhi Family reigns supreme, Rao will not get his due. As for Babri and Dec 1992, Indian youth today can look beyond religion, caste, today there are not many idle and unemployed youth left in rapidly developing India(thanks to his reforms) to have time and leasure for such mindless hatred to be stoked into them. Perhaps this will be his true legacy.

June 28, 2007 6:27 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Anon @ 9.49 AM,
It is so sad there are not a single mention of PV Narasimha Rao during his birth day in most of the India media. You are correct – goondas and criminals get more coverage than people who contributed to the society.

Jiby,
I am happy that you share my views about Rao. Even the Congress leaders who got lot of favors from Rao also choose to ignore his good work these days. This is very sad.

July 05, 2007 8:40 PM  
Blogger sailender said...

IF MAHATMA GANDHI IS SO CALLED FATHER OF OUR NATION WE MUST RECONSIDER P.V.NARASIMHA RAO AS THE FATHER OF MODERN INDIA.AN INDIA THAT NEVER LOOK BACK FOR FOOD,ECONOMY,SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE.HATS OF TO THE WORK DONE BY P.V.NARASIMHA RAO SIR....IT IS PERHAPS NO OTHER PRIME MINISTER FROM OUR OWN INDIA HAS CONTRIBUTED MUCH TO OUR NATION....WE NEED TO STAND UP AND SALUTE TO THE MAN IN CREATING THIS MODERN INDIA.TO BE FRANK NEVER TRUST THIS SHIT CONGRESS AS THEY PLAY GAMES ON MANMOHAN SINGH WHO BELIEVES P.V.NARASIMHA RAO AS HIS GURU[THE TEACHER.IT IS SAD THAT EVEN HE CANNOT DEFEND FROM HIS OWN PARTY COZ HE'S ACTIN LIKE A PUPPET.JUST SEE THE TRUST OF THE PEOPLE ON NARASIMHA RAO WHILE HE GOT ELECTED FROM NANDYAL CONSITITUENCY[A.P] WITH MERE 5 LAKH MAJORITY VOTES WHICH IS PERHAPS THE WORLD RECORD IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.....JUST I REQUEST THE PRESENT POLITICIANS TO LEARN ABIT FROM THE WORKS DONE BY P.V.NARASIMHA RAO SIR.......DO FOR THE NATION NOT FOR YOUR OWN INTERESTS...

July 10, 2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

sailender,

A Nice one!

July 22, 2007 6:54 PM  

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