Thursday, January 20, 2005

Did "Socialist" Indian Stagnate before 1991?

One of the popular beliefs (I would call it just a belief... even a myth), specially among the contemporary urban educated Indians is that India, due to its "Nehruvian Socialism" remained stagnant till 1991. It is unfortunate, that not only most believe that prior to 1991, India lived in dark, corrupt ages, but also that the economy and growth was stagnant...

This myth is also fueled by media, and often many good and influential writers who put this point quite convincingly too. One such example is this quote from Gurucharan Das's India Unbound:

"…in July 1991… with the announcement of sweeping liberalization by the minority government of P.V. Narasimha Rao… opened the economy… dismantled import controls, lowered customs duties, and devalued the currency… virtually abolished licensing controls on private investment, dropped tax rates, and broke public sector monopolies…. We felt as though our second independence had arrived: we were going to be free from a rapacious and domineering state…"

Like a Meme or an Idea Virus, such a view of history gets replicated, till people actually start believing it (this is, unfortunately, more true of many young educated Indians, who often believe that intellectual brilliance - and they are briliant!! - can compensate for their lack of historical rooting)

Thus this posting!...just to put the facts in perspective (the following are the facts and figures I could collect from various sources - I am sure, there will be many more such tables):

... There is another dogma about "socialism"... but I will come to that later...

1 comment:

Anurag said...

You are so right, Prof Shukla. People dismiss first 44 years of independence as a period when almost nothing happened! I had also written a small piece sometime back on 80s vs 90s

Look forward to reading next instalment of your piece..

Best wishes