It was the summer of 1991 and before the Choli and the Chunari conquered the Indian cinemas, the Chumma, with Amitabh Bacchan (doing his pelvic thrusts) and Kimi Katkar (her seductive allure) was the craze of the nation - The nation that financially & economically was going through its toughest phase since independence. India was on a brink of default and there was a sudden need of bail out. Reserves were down to 30 days of import and government had started transferring part of its gold reserves as a guarantee to IMF. This dire state of affairs led to what we all know now as the Big Bang reform of India’s economy, by the then finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. (Back then he was actually walking his talk…yes, he was talking then!!)
This summer is the silver jubilee (25 years) of the Big Bang reform. The calamity of 1991 led to liberalizing reforms that ended decades of stagnation and allowed a spurt of fast growth. India has changed in ways unimaginable in the last 25-years and the momentum favored economic reformism. For those who have lived long enough under the oppressive license/permit/quota raj, it would be ludicrous to even compare the pre-1991 India. I just hope that we don’t wait for another catastrophe to trigger reformist policies. I like how Anand Mahendra puts it, India has been pregnant with potential since the Big bang reform, but we are still waiting for the potential to enter the real India.
The present Indian government won a historic mandate two years back. Expectations were very high and all of them might not have been converted into reality as yet, but it’s safe to say from what we have witnessed…Aache din are ‘almost’ here!!
If you want to learn more about what life was like before 1991, please visit IndiaBefore91.in