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Rao is father of economic reforms: Manmohan

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 24, 2020 Published on July 24, 2020

Manmohan Singh   -  PTI

Inaugurating the birth centenary celebrations of former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, his successor and Finance Minister in Rao’s Cabinet Manmohan Singh said while economic reforms and liberalisation were indeed Rao’s biggest contributions, his contributions to the country in different fields cannot be underestimated.

On the foreign affairs front, Rao made efforts to improve the relationship with neighbours including China.

“India signed the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement along with the SAARC countries. Then the ‘Look East Policy’ was also his brainchild to link India with East and South-East Asian countries,” Singh said.

‘Built consensus’

Hailing Rao as his friend, philosopher and guide, Singh said real tough decisions had to be urgently taken in 1991, as India faced a foreign exchange crisis, with foreign exchange reserves down to about two weeks’ imports, bringing the nation to the edge of a precipice. “But then politically it was a big question if one could take hard decisions to meet the challenging situation. It was a precariously placed minority Government, which was dependent on outside support for stability. Yet Narasimha Rao-ji was able to carry everyone along, convincing them with his conviction. Enjoying his confidence, I went about my job to carry forward his vision. Victor Hugo had once said that no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come - India’s emergence as major economic power was one such idea. There was an arduous journey ahead but it was time to let the whole world know loud and clear that India was wide awake. The rest is history. Looking back, Narasimha Rao-ji can truly be called the father of Economic Reforms in India,” Singh said.

‘Transformative budget’

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in her message, congratulated the Telangana unit of the Congress for organising the centenary celebrations. She said the country was able to overcome a grave economic crisis and many other challenges through Rao’s bold leadership. “The Union budget of July 24, 1991 paved the way for the economic transformation of our country. PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure is also marked by a number of political, social and foreign policy achievements that have endured. Above all, he was a dedicated Congressman who served the party devotedly in various capacities,” she said.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said from joining the Congress in his teenage years to becoming the Prime Minister of the largest democracy, Rao’s remarkable political journey reflected his grit and determination.

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Published on July 24, 2020
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