By GKM Rao

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today reiterated that PV Narasimha Rao would go down in the the history of Independent India for two specific economic reforms—Import liberalisation and removing the Licence permit Raj in the country.

Manmohan Singh went on to say that but for Narasinga Rao's solid cooperation, the reforms process would not have taken a forward leap and it required strong determination and leadership. This was shown by Rao when he was the prime Minister.

Manmohan Singh was speaking while receiving the "PV Narasimha Rao—National Leadership and Lifetime Achievement Award” from the former President and Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukerjee this evening here at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Stating that he would never be able to repay his debt to PVN, former Prime Minister Singh recalled his association with him. Describing Rao as a warm and great human being, Singh said his support helped to take critical economic decisions. Singh recalled how he was appointed as Finance minister much to his surprise by Narasimha Rao.

Singh recalled that while Rao was constituting his cabinet in 1991 June, senior official P C Alexander came to him and told that he was his choice for Finance Minister. But Manmohan Singh did not believe and next day he went to his office as he was UGC (university grants committee) chairman when the cabinet swearing was to take place in the evening, Rao called Manmohan and asked whether Alexander had informed him or not. Manmohan said, though he told him, he did not believe he would get that post. After making him Finance Minister, Rao reportedly told him he would be sacked if he does not deliver, to which Manmohan said that if only "Prime minister supports, I would be successful".

Speaking on the occasion, Pranab Mukerjee said both PVN and Manmohan will be known for generations for steering clear of the economic mess and put India a world economic power.

It was a real pathbreaking economic measure by both PVN and Singh, said Pranab Mukerjee, who himself was an economist and finance and commerce minister and deputy chairman of the planning commission. It was these two who turned the Hindu Rate of Growth for 30 years, which was below 4 per cent, not only liberated the economy but made it possible for "inclusive growth".

Pranab said that he worked with both for 40 years at various top levels of the government and provided real political vision along with economic stability. Pranab also recalled how Manmohan Singh turned the HRD ministry into a high trajectory during the 12th Five year Plan, so much so, that there are about 1000 universities and 40,000 colleges in the country.

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