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Cover Story
 

India: The last 30 years

Issue Date - 16/02/2012
 
Over the last 30 years, India has emerged in every sense. It has blossomed as an extraordinary phenomenon on this planet. Greatest and biggest vibrant democracy – India reached out to the stakeholders at the micro level. Liberalisation too opened its doors to the global economy and made it compete with the rest of the world.

During this period we saw the phenomenon of Indian multinational companies spreading their wings all over the globe. Advertisements of Kumaramangalam Birla’s Vande Mataram taking huge leaps from Saudi Arabia to Europe, to East Asia, and Middle East. The Indian economy also travelled quite far. In infrastructure too India made a lot of progress. Education, especially information technology, also witnessed good progress. This was also the period when various players like Infosys, Wipro and HCL came up. Time when H. C. Kohli of TCS and Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT Madras led from the front to give science and technology a social angle, serving the social cause and empowering the disadvantaged and underprivileged sections.

We also saw a bloody conflict in Kargil. But we only emerged victorious. We even did Pokhran II and faced sanctions imposed by the US, Europe and Japan. However, we came out with flying colours. If the West stopped transfer of super computers to India, we developed Param. Science saw starlwarts like Raghunath Mashelkar and Vijay Bhatkar becoming national heroes. President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam led the moral force of the nation by inspiring & motivating the younger generation. Atal Behari Vajpayee, who unfurled the tricolour from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort six times during this period, heralded a new era in Indian politics. He created an atmosphere where everyone felt happy. Economy was good, price rise and unemployment were under control. We improved our relations with Europe as well as China, and even with Pakistan – in spite of the war, we did well.

Coming back to1982, I think liberalisation did the trick. Liberalisation changed India’s contours. Good old socialism and controlled economy were given a burial for good. The Nehruvian era formally came to an end. And the credit for this goes to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was one of the most dynamic leaders of her time. She was a decision-maker. Of course it was the Nehru-Gandhi family rule. But she was a proud Indian. Her cultural roots were very intact. However, after her sad and tragic death, we saw the continuous rise of internal terrorism. Khalistani terrorists, Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir and Northeast too reared their ugly head. Further, economically in spite of Mrs Gandhi’s ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan, there was no sign of a real change in poverty levels during that period. The real change came after Prime Minister Narasimha Rao embarked on economic liberalisation in 1991. But then, it has also increased the divide between the rich and the poor.

The disparity has also widened in the knowledge sector. Further, the new economic order has failed to address the issues of rural development and building infrastructure for the launch of India Inc. It’s the common Indian who has been at the receiving end. Corruption too has increased manifold. Today the anger of the people is no less than what it was during 1976-77. I would say, the political class has once again lost its credibility in the eyes of common man.

 

K. S. Narayanan           

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