Vajpayee’s modern economy

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/19/2018 12:36:55 PM IST

 Seven years had passed since the liberalization of Indian economy. Some years were troublesome. Stock, LIC, UTI scams had rocked the country. Globalisation though in was yet to be accepted. It was at that moment, in 1998, a pure politician with little credentials in economics – Atal Behari Vajpayee - held the mantle of the country.

And he did economic wonders. He virtually led the roadmap for the future. His regime was a political marvel. For the first time a non-Congress party, BJP was the leader of a difficult coalition, NDA. It had 24 parties in it. Unlike the previous United Front coalition it did a miracle. It completed its full term, gave the country a stable regime. Socially, politically and economically it was a success.

He, it can be said today, re-laid the path to progress. After 1950s, it was a new era. It reformed the reforms of 1991 too. A policy the successive UPA-I, UPA–II and the NDA-II cannot budge. And politically he set the tone for the coalition rule that continues even 14 years after he demitted office. He established that India is a social coalition and the political process could not do without this basic. It has become the fundamental of India’s inclusive progress.

It opened up a new era of foreign relations with opening up the markets to Southeast Asia – the Look East policy, was not averse to relationship with China despite unease and gave the new concept to explore Africa as the future market. The close ties with ASEAN are the results of his effort.

 Even he was not averse to good neighbourly relations with a difficult Pakistan.

He did not ride the bus to Lahore merely to open up the travel but to pave the way for strong trade relations. If it did not succeed for General Parvez Musharraf’s Kargil misadventure, he did not mind calling him to Agra for a solution. And who does not know that he was instrumental in more than one way for making the CEO of Pakistan, Musharraf, its president. Pakistan failed him in many ways, including the attack during his time on Parliament.

Yes, it was all that Vajpayee did at a critical time. He maintained a continuous dialogue with all his allies and even the opposition. His talks with the opposition made his parliamentary work easier.

It was not easy for him to move the economy the way he wanted. It is known that International Monetary Fund and World Bank were breathing down the neck of India. The concealed agenda was to benefit some of the powerful western economies.

Vajpayee as a skilled statesman neither annoyed the Breton Woods institution nor some of the fraternal organisations within the Sangh parivar.

He carried out a nuclear agenda that nation prided for. The Pokaharan II was neither an aberration nor an expression of an adamant attitude. It was a visionary move to pressurize the West to make them understand that India was changing and even with imposition of sanctions they could not do without India. It was the beginning of a new era of nuclear cooperation and technology transfer without signing the NPT that later his successor Manmohan Singh could achieve.

Vajpayee’s move paved the way for close cooperation with the US and India’s self sufficiency in other scientific area including the space.  India is today launching 104 satellites through one vehicle bringing in business from the most advanced western nations because of his subtle but actually aggressive policies. It also paved the way for the digital India, where satellites play critical role in connectivity, be it phones or inernet.

Vajpayee had an onerous dream. It was about an Indian going abroad with rupee and the foreigners lapping it up. This has yet to come true.

The wonders of the regime was freeing Indians from queues of all sorts and  low prices.

The massive infrastructure projects – opening up the aviation sector, Golden Quadrilateral highways, PM’s gram sadak yojana – led a massive connectivity to create a unified Indian market. The tariff barriers between states were conceptualized to end finally in the GST today. New barriers like multiple kinds of toll remain despite a uniform Rs 8 per litre petro cess. If it is abolished the new India of his dreams would come true.

He started the disinvestment ministry, sold some PSUs but did not mind going slow after the Centaur controversy. Gradually the government exited from many areas including now trying to get rid of the critical Air India – that was acquired from Tatas in 1953, possibly the beginning of government monopolization in the Nehru era. Now with an open aviation policy that Vajpayee launched that monopoly looks out of sync.

He had new vision for the North East, synchronised with his Look East policy. His DONER ministry had decided to invest in a massive way in NE, including Nagaland, where he led efforts to sort out insurgency. But he did not mind stopping the massive package when some poky newsman told him of the massive leakage. He redrew it and today on his path BJP has almost a monopoly in NE.

Vajpayee had an onerous dream. It was about an Indian going abroad with rupee and the foreigners lapping it up. This has yet to come true.

The wonders of the regime was freeing Indians from queues of all sorts – fair price food grain shops, telephone, LPG gas by ensuring low prices. It led to a thriving market and a life of ease. Even house prices were static for almost six years of his rule. Some economists were wondering whether the country was heading for depression. But the growth continued, education improved and overall happiness engulfed most Indians.

Few of his successors could match his feat.

Vajpayee worked with contrasting characters and allies. It was possible for a personality like him only. He had an Alsatian dog and a pussycat as pets. The dog would sit by his side and the cat on his lap. When he was not home the two were seen to engage in naughty games. That was possibly the secret of Vajpayee’s success, which needs to be emulated by all political parties.

Vajpayee – a practical politician – realized that India’s politics could not succeed unless the people’s economy was taken care of. He dipped his politics in economy to create a comfort level for the people. A diagnosis not easy to follow but every government is trying to do that whether in the name of the poor, dalits or kisan.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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