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Architect of Indian economic reforms: Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao
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Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao
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Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao

New Delhi: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday paid rich tributes to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. While remembering the former prime minister, Venkaiah said that people should acknowledge and recall the pioneering role Rao had played in initiating economic reforms at a critical juncture when the Indian economy was on the brink of a collapse.

He said India's foreign reserves had depleted at a fast pace as the country's imports outpaced the exports. Faced with a hopeless situation on the economic front, Rao had initiated measures to liberalise the economy. He sought to dismantle the restrictions imposed under the License Raj, reduce red tape and make Indian industries more competitive. Discretionary controls and regulations were eased and reforms were introduced in trade and industrial policies

In a televised address to the nation a day after he was sworn in as the Prime Minister, Rao asserted: "The government is committed to remove the cobwebs that come in the way of rapid industrialization. We work towards making India internationally competitive taking full advantage of modern science and technology and opportunities offered by the evolving global economies". This was a major shift from the inward orientation of the previous regimes to a new trajectory of globally integrated development. He laid the foundation for trade liberalisation and the re-integration of the Indian economy with the global, especially East Asian economies. He was a reformer and wanted India to learn from what was happening elsewhere in the world. He wanted the crisis to be turned into an opportunity, recalled the Vice President

Gradually over a period of time a broad consensus emerged in the country on the need to continue with the reforms. Later, Atal Bihari Vajpayee accelerated the reforms during his tenure as the Prime Minister, while present Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing the reforms with greater vigor, said Venkaiah. Rao had held a wide range of positions during his long public career. The implementation of land reforms in Andhra Pradesh when he was the Chief Minister, the launch of the Look East policy and the path-breaking 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments empowering local bodies during his tenure as the Prime Minister are worthy of mentioning. He laid a strong foundation for national nuclear security as well. His efforts resulted ultimately in Pokhran Nuclear test in 1998 as Vajpayeeji said after succeeding him as Prime Minster: "Rao said to me the bomb was ready, I only exploded it." Among his bold moves in foreign policy was establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and reversing decades of frosty relations between India and United States by bringing them together. He was also fairly successful in controlling the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir, added the Vice President.

The former Prime Minister was a multi-faceted personality with varied interests. He was a lawyer, scholar, writer, polyglot and an astute administrator. He was proficient in several Indian and foreign languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bengali, Gujarati, Odiya, Tamil, Kannada, English, French, German, Persian, Arabic and Spanish. He translated the famous Telugu novel, 'Veyi Padagalu' of Viswanatha Satyanarayana into Hindi.

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