The Rational Fool questions conventional wisdom that the current unelected PM Manmohan Singh in his previous incarnation as the Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao administration between 1991-96 was the ‘Prime Architect’ of the Economic reforms.
He stresses that inspite of a Curriculum vitae like this, he is just another establishment man who can and will champion the worst forms of socialist excesses.
I have always had a suspicion of Prime Minister Singh’s commitment to reforms. It harkens back to his days as the Chief Economic Advisor to Mrs. Gandhi’s government during 1972-76. That government was probably the most socialist-minded of all the governments of independent India. Dr. Singh’s colleagues and members of Mrs. Gandhi’s cabinet included card-carrying members of the Communist Party of India, such as the Steel and Industry Minister Mohan Kumaramangalam.
During Mrs. Gandhi’s regime, privy purses were abolished, banks were nationalized, and thousands were forcibly sterilized. The marginal tax rate exceeded 90% on incomes over Rs.100,000. India officially became a Socialist Republic in 1976 with the passage of the 42nd amendment to its Constitution. The draconian regime culminated in the declaration of national emergency in 1975, and fundamental rights were suspended. Dr. Singh was the economic czar of India during this infamous phase of Indian history. I cannot imagine such far reaching changes in policies could have taken place without the tacit approval and cooperation from Dr. Singh.
The only reason that Manmohan Singh came away with all the kudos for the Economic reforms of the early 90s was because the Indian middle class recognised him- An ‘intellectual’ with impeccable academic credentials, with itself.Considering that much of the journalists, writers etc… is from this class it is not much of a surprise that it idolised him and placed him on a pedestal he did not actually deserve.
The real credit for the turnaround should go to the then PM Narasimha Rao for boldly going where no one had dared to go before. He stood his ground and backed his FM to the hilt against all the political storms. It is even likely that he actually gave the brief to his FM to draw up an economic reform package. Not a far off thought considering that the the current PM has a knack of following His Master of the moment’s Voice without question. Be it Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao or Sonia Gandhi or whoever in future.
The bottomline is that Manmohan Singh is no great visionary. He is just a right hand man for those in power and is more than willing to do their bidding.
Also read Narasimha Rao’s Final Humiliation