26 July, 2021

Quiet Goes The Don

As PM, his silences were pregnant. In his last years too, he suffered ignominy in quietude.

Quiet Goes The Don
With the exception of Jawaharlal Nehru, no prime minister did as much to transform the future of India as P.V. Narasimha Rao. But such is the ingrate nature of Indian politics and politicians that no PM received less recognition than he did in the years before his death, least of all, within his own party. Today, Rao is being remembered as the father of the economic reforms that finally broke the shackles of the command economy, and set India free. Yet the reforms are only a part of Rao's legacy. Those who worked closely with him, and those who followed governance closely in those tumultuous years know that it was Rao, and Rao alone, following not bureaucratic advice but his own political intuition, who took the key decisions that ended the militancy in Punjab and took the steam out of the insurgency in Kashmir.

Rao's contribution to India's economic reforms was of crucial importance, but he wasn't their architect. Through the '80s, there had been a growing realisation within the government that the command economy, which minimised links with the world market, was bound to...

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