Beyond Bygone

Fount of wisdom

PV Narasimha Rao — the visionary, the innovator and the architect of modern India — remembered by Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao and VJM Divakar, in commemoration of his upcoming birth centenary

In these testing times, when the whole world in general and our country, in particular, is going through one of the worst phases in the history, on an economic and social front, all of us should remember the statesmanship with which PV Narasimha Rao pulled the country out of woods and paved way for a golden future whose fruits we have enjoyed enough till recently. It is our duty to recall the unparalleled services rendered by PV on his birth centenary which commences from June 28 this year which is both a tribute and an act of gratitude towards him, a leader, writer, thinker, and polyglot par excellence.

An underrated leader during his lifetime, PV was solely responsible for making our country a major IT hub and emerging economic superpower from a situation where the country had to pledge its gold to pay the loan interests. When the country was in deep financial crisis and with no credibility in the economic world, he singlehandedly drafted the economic reforms and market liberalisation policy that paid rich dividends. But the privatisation and economic liberalisation that PV conceived and implemented is not the one pursued by the successive governments in the country.

All those who followed PV's life and political career knew that he was a visionary who always thought about society and was never ever entertained any selfish thoughts. When he was the Education Minister in united Andhra Pradesh, he introduced for the first time in the country, a residential education system for the poor. He replicated this idea in the form of Navodaya Vidyalayas when he was the HRD Minister at the centre and he was one who drafted the National Policy on Education (NPE) during the Rajiv Gandhi prime ministership.

When he was the Chief Minister of united AP, 50 years ago, on August 30, 1972, he introduced in the Legislature, the famous, innovative 'Land Reforms Bill', the first of its kind anywhere in the country. The Land reforms that PV brought in then had completely eradicated the feudal Zamindar system and helped the landless poor to become owners of a piece of land which gave them respect and self-confidence in society.

The speech that PV made introducing the Bill in the Legislative Assembly will go down in history as a landmark address. He spoke at length on the need for the land reform, how large landholdings make people become arrogant and how even a small landholding makes people stand with dignity in society. He also spoke eloquently about women rights, about two schools of law that govern the law of succession of the Hindu undivided family under Indian Law and so on. He also urged the House not to delay the passing of the Bill as the delay would help the landlords to transfer their lands on their pet dogs, cats etc. Unfortunately, the anti-progressive gang from his own party pulled his chair not knowing then that one day he would climb the ladder to lead the nation.

When he became the Prime Minister at a time when he had almost retired from politics, PV took the opportunity to govern with his unique style and mark. PV was the first person outside the Nehru-Gandhi family who served as PM for the full 5-year term. The situation when PV took over in the country was pathetic, to say the least. The balance of payments position was in a precarious condition. It was so serious that the country had to transport by air, 47 tonnes of its gold reserves as a pledge to the IMF for a loan. Nobody thought that India could ever recover! But it did.

Within a short span of a few months, the economic reform measures began to yield fruits and the economy started recovering fast. A part of the public sector was privatised, 'license raj' was abolished leading to entrepreneurship and competition, state control and red tape were reduced and policies on foreign investments were modified to attract more investments.

A polyglot in every sense of the term, PV himself an accomplished writer wrote his memoirs in a book The Insider. Despite his hectic political activity, he maintained regular contact with all the eminent writers in all the languages. PV, besides being fluent in 17 languages, was also well versed in economics, law, history, politics and arts.

But unfortunately for the nation, PV was never regarded or recognised as an able leader by the Congress leadership. Leaders like Arjun Singh wrote several nasty things about PV after his demise on the role he played during the Babri Masjid demolition.

AICC President and the then UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, for reasons best known to her, did not allow the mortal remains of PV to be kept at the AICC headquarters. When they were brought to Hyderabad, the then Congress regime did not accord such a great personage the necessary respect with exception of officially performing his last rites. Even after his death, PV was insulted, humiliated by his own party leaders, a harsh reality that Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly confessed in several public meetings.

When a Magistrate Court sentenced him for three years in the so-called JMM Bribes scandal and when the Magistrate Ajit Bharihoke, while delivering the verdict, made several comments on PV that enunciated that PV was a hardcore criminal, PV never reacted. He maintained his stoic silence.

The highest praise should be given to Telangana Chief Minister KCR for officially organising PV's birth and death anniversaries as a priority since the day he assumed office. It is high time now, when PV's Centenary is round the corner, that our PM constitutes a Committee at the national level to commemorate PV centenary year. Telangana CM KCR has already constituted a committee with Rajya Sabha member Dr K Keshav Rao as Chairman in this regard. Let us not forget the name and deeds of a great architect of Millennium India — PV Narasimha Rao.

VJN Rao is the Chief Public Relations Officer to the Chief Minister of Telangana

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