Friday, Dec 02, 2022
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10 years of reforms

Mantris, Babus, Seers

Some came, some saw, few conquered… The dramatis personae of the people behind the refor ms process

Mantris, Babus, Seers
Illustration by Jayachandran
Mantris, Babus, Seers
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

One of the most momentous of the liberalisation measures would never have been taken, if a particularly determined FM hadn’t decided to go it alone. The second devaluation of the rupee, by 6 per cent in July 1991, did not have the consent of then prime minister Narasimha Rao. So Manmohan Singh exercised his discretion as the chancellor of the exchequer. Did he jump the gun because Rao was afraid to commit?

Taken together, the two-stage devaluation of the rupee by a sharp 20 per cent in 1991 was the first decisive, toughest and arguably the most far-reaching liberalisation measure. But even after a full briefing from Jairam Ramesh, then secretary in the pmo, Rao agonised over it. "K.N. Raj," he argued, "has written an article on this and he thinks the 1966 devaluation was why the Congress party split. How can we allow it?"

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