Bharat Ratna for P.V. Narasimha Rao, Father of Indian Economic Reforms.
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PV Narasimha Rao (28 June 1921 – 23 December 2004) was an Indian lawyer and politician who served as the 9th Prime Minister of India(1991–1996). His ascendancy to the prime ministership was politically significant in that he was the first holder of this office from a non-Hindi-speaking region, belonging to the southern part of India. He led an important administration, overseeing a major economic transformation. Rao, who held the Industries portfolio, was personally responsible for the dismantling of the Licence Raj, as this came under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He is often referred to as the "Father of Indian Economic Reforms". Future prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh continued the economic reform policies pioneered by Rao's government. Rao accelerated the dismantling of the License Raj, reversing the socialist policies of Rajiv Gandhi's government. He employed Dr. Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister to embark on historic economic transition. With Rao's mandate, Dr. Manmohan Singh launched India's globalisation angle of the reforms that implemented the International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies to rescue the almost bankrupt nation from economic collapse. Rao was also referred to as Chanakya for his ability to steer tough economic and political legislation through the parliament at a time when he headed a minority government.
Narasimha Rao was an active freedom fighter during the Indian Independence movement and joined full-time politics after independence as a member of the Indian National congress. His tenure as Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh is well remembered even today for his land reforms and strict implementation of land ceiling acts in Telangana region. President's rule had to be imposed to counter the Jai Andhra movement during his tenure. He rose to national prominence in 1972 for handling several diverse portfolios, most significantly Home, Defence and Foreign Affairs, in the cabinets of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. In fact, it is speculated that he was in the running for the post of India's President along with Zail Singh in 1982.
According to a former Foreign Minister of India Natwar Singh, "Unlike Nehru, his knowledge of Sanskrit was profound. Nehru had a temper, PV a temperament. His roots were deep in the spiritual and religious soil of India. He did not need to "Discover India". 11th President of India APJ Abdul Kalam described Rao as a "patriotic statesman who believed that the nation is bigger than the political system". Kalam acknowledged that Rao in fact asked him to get ready for nuclear tests in 1996 but they were not carried out as government at center got changed due to 1996 general election. The tests were later conducted by Vajpayee-led NDA government. In fact Rao briefed Vajpayee on nuclear plans.
He was a versatile personality with interests in a variety of subjects (other than politics) such as literature and computer software (including computer programming). He spoke 17 languages. Rao's mother tongue was Telugu, and he had an excellent command of Marathi. In addition to eight other Indian languages (Hindi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu), he spoke English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German and Persian. Along with his distant cousin Pamulaparthi Sadasiva Rao, Ch. Raja Narendra and Devulapalli Damodar Rao, PV edited a Telugu weekly magazine called Kakatiya Patrika in the 1940s. Both PV and Sadasiva Rao contributed articles under the pen-name Jaya-Vijaya.
Rao's term as Prime Minister was an eventful one in India's history. Besides marking a paradigm shift from the industrialising, mixed economic model of Jawaharlal Nehru to a market driven one. Rao died in 2004 of a heart attack in New Delhi. He was cremated in Hyderabad. Rao suffered a heart attack on 9 December 2004, and was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences where he died 14 days later at the age of 83. His family wanted the body cremated in Delhi."This is his karmabhoomi", Rao's son Prabhakara told Manmohan Singh. But it is alleged that Sonia Gandhi's closest aides ensured that the body was moved to Hyderabad. In Delhi, his body was not allowed inside AICC building. His body was kept in state at the Jubilee Hall in Hyderabad. His funeral was attended by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the then Home Affairs Minister Shivraj Patil, the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president L.K. Advani, the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and many other dignitaries.
Many people across the party line supported the name of P.V.Narasimha Rao for Bharat Ratna. Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao supported the move to give Bharat Ratna to Rao. Even BJP leader Subramanian Swamy supported the move to give Bharat Ratna to Rao. According to Sanjay Baru, PM Manmohan Singh wanted to give Bharat Ratna to Rao during his tenure. The UPA I and UPA II didnot respect Rao fully in their tenures at Center and State. Now its time to demand highest civilian award of the Republic of India, Bharat Ratna to PV.
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