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Books > Language and Literature > Biography > 1991 How P. V. Narasimha Rao Made History
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1991 How P. V. Narasimha Rao Made History
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1991 How P. V. Narasimha Rao Made History
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About The Book

P. V. Narasimha Rao (or PV as he was popularly known) has been widely praised for enabling the economic reforms that transformed the country in 1991. From the vantage point of his long personal and professional association with the former prime minister, bestselling author Sanjaya Baru shows how PV's impact on the nation's fortunes went way beyond the economy.

This book is an insider's account of the politics, economics and geopolitics that combined to make 1991 a turning point for India. The period preceding that year was a difficult one for India: economically, due to the balance of payments crisis; politically, with Rajiv Gandhi's politics of opportunism and cynicism taking the country to the brink; and globally, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its ally.It was in this period that the unheralded PV assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress, took charge of the central government, restored political stability, pushed through significant economic reforms and steered India through the uncharted waters of a post-Cold War world. He also revolutionized national politics, and his own Congress party, by charting a new political course, thereby proving that there could be life beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. 1991 marked the end of an era and the beginning of another. It was the year that made PV. And it was the year PV made history.

·

About the Author

· · Sanjaya Baru is Consulting Fellow for India, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London; and Honorary Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He was Media Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2004-08). He is a senior journalist and has been editor of the Financial Express, Business Standard, Economic Times and Times of India. He has the bestselling author of The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh.

Introduction

At an interaction with students at a university near Delhi, in the winter of 2015, I asked the audience what the year 1991 meant to them. A young man replied without hesitation, and to laughter all around, 'I was born that year!'

I suggested that something else may also have happened that year. Few hazarded a reply.

Earlier that year, addressing a meeting of the Hyderabad Management Association, I had asked my middle-aged audience the same question. Many were quick to reply. It was the year in which the government had introduced new economic policies that opened up the Indian economy.

So who was responsible for that, I asked my Hyderabad audience.

`Manmohan Singh!' said many, without hesitation.

True, Manmohan Singh was the finance minister who read out the famous budget speech on 24 July 1991-one that contained several important policy initiatives and defined a new framework for India's macroeconomic policy. He became the face of the new turn in India's economic policies and played a key role as the voice of reform and liberalization even in areas for which he was not directly responsible as minister of finance.

But what was the really historic thing that happened that day, I persisted, for which Manmohan Singh was not directly responsible? Some did murmur 'decontrol' and 'delicensing'. True, the new industrial policy was not part of Singh's famous budget speech. In an initiative characteristic of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's low-key style, the historic dismantling of the infamous 'licence-permit raj' (also called licence-permit-quota raj) had happened earlier that day when a 'statement on industrial policy' was tabled in Parliament by the minister of state for industry. It was the little known P. J. Kurien, junior minister for industry (made famous more recently by his appearance on television chairing rambunctious sessions of the Rajya Sabha), who had the privilege of tabling the historic statement that liberated Indian industry from years of what amounted to 'bureaucratic socialism'.

So, who was the senior cabinet minister for industry responsible for this major shift in India's industrial policy? Complete silence. Then someone from the back of the auditorium once again said, `Manmohan Singh.' Wrong.

`Chidambaram!' said a few. Kamal Nath,' ventured some others. On that monsoon day in Hyderabad in 2015, no one could recall that a long-time inhabitant of that city, Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao, PV as he was always known to the Telugus, was in fact the author of the most radical shift in India's economic policy since Jawaharlal Nehru's famous Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956. Nehru's resolution had declared that India would strive to establish a 'socialistic pattern of society'. In 1991 PV moved away from that pattern to unleash private enterprise.

It is significant, and relevant to our argument about PV's centrality to the reform process, that as prime minister he not only retained the industries portfolio but also kept the Ministry of Civil Supplies and Public Distribution under his charge.

The now famous national rural employment guarantee programme (NREGA) had its initial launch during PV's tenure as prime minister.

This book is not just about PV. It is in fact about 1991. We cannot understand 1991 without understanding the role of the political leadership that made the policy changes of 1991 possible. In that fateful year, India saw new political leaders emerge out of the shadows of the Delhi durbar, who set a different course for the country to follow. Equally responsible for political and economic change were global whirlwinds of various sorts. This book is an account of the politics, the economics and the geopolitics that combined to make 1991 an important year in India's recent history. But without doubt, the central character was PV. The year made him. He made the year. For India, it was a turning point.

If most of us recognize the major landmarks o f global or national history in our lifetime 'it is not because all of us have experienced them, even been aware at the time that they were landmarks. It is because we accept the consensus that they are landmarks', wrote historian Eric Hobsbawm. For some time now the consensus within public and academic discourse has been that the year 1991 marked a turning point in contemporary Indian history. It was a landmark year.

And yet, the commonplace view is that 1991 was eventful because of an economic crisis that forced India to take a new turn in its economic policies. But 1991 was about more than just that. It was also the year in which Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and the Soviet Union imploded. In that dark hour, a diminutive, uncharismatic Congressman rose to the occasion.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








1991 How P. V. Narasimha Rao Made History

Item Code:
NAX494
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HARDCOVER
Edition:
2016
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ISBN:
9789384067687
Language:
English
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9.00 X 6.00 inch
Pages:
216
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Weight of the Book: 0.33 Kg
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About The Book

P. V. Narasimha Rao (or PV as he was popularly known) has been widely praised for enabling the economic reforms that transformed the country in 1991. From the vantage point of his long personal and professional association with the former prime minister, bestselling author Sanjaya Baru shows how PV's impact on the nation's fortunes went way beyond the economy.

This book is an insider's account of the politics, economics and geopolitics that combined to make 1991 a turning point for India. The period preceding that year was a difficult one for India: economically, due to the balance of payments crisis; politically, with Rajiv Gandhi's politics of opportunism and cynicism taking the country to the brink; and globally, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, its ally.It was in this period that the unheralded PV assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress, took charge of the central government, restored political stability, pushed through significant economic reforms and steered India through the uncharted waters of a post-Cold War world. He also revolutionized national politics, and his own Congress party, by charting a new political course, thereby proving that there could be life beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. 1991 marked the end of an era and the beginning of another. It was the year that made PV. And it was the year PV made history.

·

About the Author

· · Sanjaya Baru is Consulting Fellow for India, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London; and Honorary Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He was Media Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2004-08). He is a senior journalist and has been editor of the Financial Express, Business Standard, Economic Times and Times of India. He has the bestselling author of The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh.

Introduction

At an interaction with students at a university near Delhi, in the winter of 2015, I asked the audience what the year 1991 meant to them. A young man replied without hesitation, and to laughter all around, 'I was born that year!'

I suggested that something else may also have happened that year. Few hazarded a reply.

Earlier that year, addressing a meeting of the Hyderabad Management Association, I had asked my middle-aged audience the same question. Many were quick to reply. It was the year in which the government had introduced new economic policies that opened up the Indian economy.

So who was responsible for that, I asked my Hyderabad audience.

`Manmohan Singh!' said many, without hesitation.

True, Manmohan Singh was the finance minister who read out the famous budget speech on 24 July 1991-one that contained several important policy initiatives and defined a new framework for India's macroeconomic policy. He became the face of the new turn in India's economic policies and played a key role as the voice of reform and liberalization even in areas for which he was not directly responsible as minister of finance.

But what was the really historic thing that happened that day, I persisted, for which Manmohan Singh was not directly responsible? Some did murmur 'decontrol' and 'delicensing'. True, the new industrial policy was not part of Singh's famous budget speech. In an initiative characteristic of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao's low-key style, the historic dismantling of the infamous 'licence-permit raj' (also called licence-permit-quota raj) had happened earlier that day when a 'statement on industrial policy' was tabled in Parliament by the minister of state for industry. It was the little known P. J. Kurien, junior minister for industry (made famous more recently by his appearance on television chairing rambunctious sessions of the Rajya Sabha), who had the privilege of tabling the historic statement that liberated Indian industry from years of what amounted to 'bureaucratic socialism'.

So, who was the senior cabinet minister for industry responsible for this major shift in India's industrial policy? Complete silence. Then someone from the back of the auditorium once again said, `Manmohan Singh.' Wrong.

`Chidambaram!' said a few. Kamal Nath,' ventured some others. On that monsoon day in Hyderabad in 2015, no one could recall that a long-time inhabitant of that city, Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao, PV as he was always known to the Telugus, was in fact the author of the most radical shift in India's economic policy since Jawaharlal Nehru's famous Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956. Nehru's resolution had declared that India would strive to establish a 'socialistic pattern of society'. In 1991 PV moved away from that pattern to unleash private enterprise.

It is significant, and relevant to our argument about PV's centrality to the reform process, that as prime minister he not only retained the industries portfolio but also kept the Ministry of Civil Supplies and Public Distribution under his charge.

The now famous national rural employment guarantee programme (NREGA) had its initial launch during PV's tenure as prime minister.

This book is not just about PV. It is in fact about 1991. We cannot understand 1991 without understanding the role of the political leadership that made the policy changes of 1991 possible. In that fateful year, India saw new political leaders emerge out of the shadows of the Delhi durbar, who set a different course for the country to follow. Equally responsible for political and economic change were global whirlwinds of various sorts. This book is an account of the politics, the economics and the geopolitics that combined to make 1991 an important year in India's recent history. But without doubt, the central character was PV. The year made him. He made the year. For India, it was a turning point.

If most of us recognize the major landmarks o f global or national history in our lifetime 'it is not because all of us have experienced them, even been aware at the time that they were landmarks. It is because we accept the consensus that they are landmarks', wrote historian Eric Hobsbawm. For some time now the consensus within public and academic discourse has been that the year 1991 marked a turning point in contemporary Indian history. It was a landmark year.

And yet, the commonplace view is that 1991 was eventful because of an economic crisis that forced India to take a new turn in its economic policies. But 1991 was about more than just that. It was also the year in which Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and the Soviet Union imploded. In that dark hour, a diminutive, uncharismatic Congressman rose to the occasion.

**Contents and Sample Pages**








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