Congress Member of Parliament (representing Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha) Jairam Ramesh has been a strong advocate of economic reforms. He has served as adviser to the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission (1992-94) and was adviser to former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1991. He pays tribute to Rao, who passed away on Thursday afternoon.
People of India will remember P V Narasimha Rao as the man who ushered India into the liberalization era in 1991.
He took the decision to liberalise the economy out of compulsion, but soon it became a matter of conviction. He was so successful that three successive prime ministers have been following in his footsteps.
Manmohan Singh was the architect of India's liberalization but Rao provided the much-needed political will and leadership. It's easy to be a technocrat but Rao's political wisdom and political courage make him outstanding. He had political courage to carry out reforms.
In 1991, within 100 days of taking over as prime minister, he showed his capability and commitment to ensure a better economy.
He was, of course, a centrist. He believed in a slogan: change with continuity. He always considered himself a politician in the Nehruvian mould and not a bold reformer.
He was erudite, well-read, highly knowledgeable and computer-friendly.
Congress lost the Lok Sabha election under his leadership in 1996 only because of wrong alliances and because of political mismanagement, and not because of Rao's economic reforms. When you think of him today, I would say that Rao was an unlikely hero.
(Jairam Ramesh spoke to Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi)
Profile: Jairam Ramesh