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Last Updated : Jun 28, 2018 12:11 PM IST | Source:

PV Narasimha Rao's 97th birth anniversary: Remembering India's 'modern-day Chanakya'

Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996, he will always be remembered as the man who took office when the country was in its worst phase of economic turmoil and led the way to recovery and transformation

Image: Reuters
Image: Reuters

Anupa Kujur

PV Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996, will always be remembered as the man who took office when the country was in its worst phase of economic turmoil and led the way to recovery and transformation.

Through his keen foresight, Rao initiated a new era of liberalization. His reforms opened up the Indian economy for speedy development and growth. He was called the "modern-day Chanakya" for steering in tough economic and political reforms.

On the occasion of his 97th birth anniversary on June 28, let's take a look at his journey towards becoming the Father of Indian Economic Reform, a renowned politician and a prolific writer.

Rao's governance

Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao services to the nation were invaluable. Under Rao’s governance, the rupee was made convertible on trade account, the idea of a nuclear test in India was first mooted and the 'Look East' policy was initiated.

Under his administration, the Licence Raj was dismantled — a major milestone in the history of Indian economics as it reversed the socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi's government and paved the way for India to be an active participant in the wave of globalization.

With Rao's mandate, then finance minister Manmohan Singh launched  a series of pro-globalisation reforms, including International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies, to rescue the almost-bankrupt nation from economic collapse.

Political Career

Narasimha Rao joined the Indian National Congress (INC) after Independence. When the INC split in 1969, Rao stayed on the side of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and remained loyal to her during the Emergency period (1975 - 77).

His years as Prime Minister were eventful for Indian history. The period saw destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, which triggered one of the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in the country since Independence. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a major right-wing party, also emerged as an alternative to Congress during his reign.

Rao is also famous for being the first Prime Minister to hail from "non-Hindi-speaking" south India. While remembering Narasimha Rao on his birth anniversary, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Wednesday said it was a proud moment for the state.

Rao's later life, however, was marked with political isolation due to corruption charges. It was alleged that Rao, through a representative, offered millions of rupees to members of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), and possibly a breakaway faction of the Janata Dal, to vote for him during the no-confidence motion. Rao was acquitted of all charges prior to his death in 2004 in New Delhi. He was cremated in Hyderabad.

In the 1996 general elections, Rao's Congress was badly defeated and he had to step down as PM. He retained the leadership of the Congress party until late 1996, after which he was replaced by Sitaram Kesri.

Among other roles, Rao also played a vital part in the freedom struggle against the Nizam who ruled Hyderabad during the 1940s.

Early Life

Rao was born to a wealthy Telugu Brahmin family, headed by PV Ranga Rao and Rukminiamma, who hailed from agrarian background in a village in Warangal District, now in Telangana.

He studied at Fergusson College and at the Universities of Mumbai and Nagpur, where he obtained Bachelor's and Master's degrees in law.

Rao was a multi-faceted personality who was also a scholar and an intellectual. He could speak in nearly 17 languages and held interest in varied subjects like computer programming and literature.
First Published on Jun 28, 2018 12:11 pm
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