Event Report: Launch of IndiaBefore91.in

 Launch of IndiaBefore91.in Portal

India Before 1991: Stories of life under the License Raj

30 January 2016, New Delhi: To mark the 25th anniversary of Indian economic reforms, and to understand how life was before the reforms Centre for Civil Society (CCS) launched a portal www.indiabefore91.in to crowd source stories from citizens across the nation.

Through this project CCS aims to bring to light human interest stories from across the country highlighting the crucial role that liberalization played in improving the lives of our people.

After the launch of the portal the event witnessed a Panel discussion on ‘1991 Indian Economic reforms’

The panelists for the event were:

  • Mr Jairam Ramesh, Former Minister of Rural Development;
  • Dr Arvind Virmani, Economic Mentor, FICCI & Former Chief Economic Advisor, GoI;
  • Dr A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI;
  • Dr Parth J Shah, Founder President, Centre for Civil Society.

Mr Praveen Chakravarty, Fellow in Political Economy at IDFC Institute was the Moderator for the Panel discussion.

The panelists highlighted about how important it is to inform half of our population (who were born after 1991) about how India was and how has it evolved after reforms.

Dr Shah said “There are three kinds of freedom that we categorize- Political freedom, Personal freedom and Economic freedom. The first two freedoms were secured in the constitution; however, the much needed economic freedom was attained with the 1991 reforms.”

To which Mr. Praveen added that “It was the magnitude of the economic crisis in the year 1991 that forced the government to undertake reforms and unshackle the economy from government control.”

With low international confidence, slowdown in industrial growth in the Indian economy, stagnant exports, point to point inflation as high as 16%, $900 million worth of foreign exchange reserves and capital flight of around $200 million per month, the only option left for India was to urgently push policy reforms. The industry was quite apprehensive about reforms and advocated focusing on domestic liberalization first and adoption of external liberalization/ globalization thereafter. All the political parties realized and agreed that economic crisis had reached at such a level that IMF financial assistance and its policy intervention was inevitable” said Mr. Virmani.

On the question that whether he is happy with the current pace of economic reforms, Mr. Ramesh responded that “Privatization still remains a contentious issue and the pace of denationalization has been very slow in the country, the new trade and industrial policy has fulfilled its objectives and has given positive results. He also added that 1991 reforms were more of a political exercise and the credit of successful implementation of reforms goes to Mr. Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh, who made these economic reforms a political success.” Talking about the IMF loan he said “The unprecedented magnitude of economic crisis, India had no option but to seek loan from IMF. He further pointed out that 1991 economic reforms occurred at four levels- political level, cabinet level, bureaucratic level and technical level.”

“Reforms are a continuous process” said Dr. Singh. He further added “That even after 25 years of economic reforms, the so called first generation reforms related to three factors of production- land, labor and capital are yet to be completed. For this, bringing a consensus among all the stakeholders will be critical.”     .

To know how life was under the License Raj and what impact did Indian economic reforms have on the present state of India, IndiaBefore91.in will document views/opinions/stories from that era.

To know more about the project visit: www.IndiaBefore91.in

Media coverage:

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The event was live-streamed and available on CCS YouTube Channel

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