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The road ahead is more daunting than the 1991 crisis: Manmohan Singh

Participants watch former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s virtual address to the concluding programme of late Prime Minister P. V.Narasimha Rao’s birth centenary celebrations organised by the Telangana Congress in Hyderabad on June 28, 2021.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The 1991 economic reforms lifted millions out of poverty, unleashed the spirit of free enterprises, and catapulted India into a $3 trillion economy but the road ahead is even more daunting than the 1991 crisis, former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said on July 23.

To mark the 30th anniversary of economic liberalisation and the opening up of the Indian economy on July 24, Dr. Singh issued a statement in which he recalled the achievements, but expressed his pain at the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the loss of lives and livelihoods.

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The country needs to recalibrate its priorities to a dignified life for all Indians, he said.

“It gives us immense joy to look back with pride at the tremendous economic progress made by our nation in the last three decades. But I am also deeply saddened at the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of millions of fellow Indians. The social sectors of health and education have lagged behind and not kept pace with our economic progress. Too many lives and livelihoods have been lost that should not have been,” Dr. Singh said.

“It is not a time to rejoice and exult but to introspect and ponder. The road ahead is even more daunting than during the 1991 crisis. Our priorities as a nation need to be recalibrated to foremost ensure a healthy and dignified life for every single Indian,” he added.

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Dr. Singh, who as Finance Minister to the late former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had unveiled a slew of reforms in 1991, talked about progress since the opening up of the economy.

“Over the last three decades, successive governments have followed this path to catapult our nation to a $3 trillion economy and into the league of the world’s largest economies. More importantly, nearly 300 million fellow Indians have been lifted out of poverty in this period and hundreds of millions of new jobs have been provided for our youth,” he said.

The former Prime Minister said that although liberalisation was triggered by an economic crisis, it was also built on “the desire to prosper, the belief in our capabilities, and the confidence to relinquish control of the economy by the government”.

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The liberalisation process helped in the making of some world-class companies and India has emerged as a global power in many sectors, he said.

“I was fortunate to play a role in this reform process along with several of my colleagues in the Congress party,” Dr. Singh noted.

Recalling his Budget speech, Dr. Singh said, “As Finance Minister in 1991, I ended my Budget speech by quoting Victor Hugo,‘no power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come’. 30 years later, as a nation, we must remember Robert Frost’s poem, ‘But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep’.”


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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 4:39:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-road-ahead-is-more-daunting-than-the-1991-crisis-manmohan-singh/article35495572.ece

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