P.V. Narasimha Rao

Name       : Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao (P.V.)
Born       : 28 June, 1921 in  Laknepalli, Warangal Rural, Telangana
Died       : 11 AM - 23 December 2004, New Delhi, India.
Profession : Lawyer, Politician
Education  : Osmania, University of Mumbai,Nagpur University
P.V. Narasimha Rao was the 10th Prime Minister of India from 1991 to 1996, who was the first holder of this office from non-Hindi-speaking south India.

He won eight consecutive elections and spent more than 50 years in his Congress party before becoming the prime minister of India. A father of eight children, he spoke 10 languages, and was a proficient translator. He first travelled abroad when he was 53, mastered two computer languages and wrote computer code in his 60s.

He ascended into Prime Ministerial office at a time when India was
stuck at its worst phase of economic turmoil. His keen foresight had initiated India to a path of liberalization, the ripples of which are felt by the country till date. Apart from being an astute politician, he was also a polyglot and a fond writer.

Probably the most under-rated leader, P.V.Narasimha Rao can be considered as one of the makers of modern India. If India has managed to shed it’s image of snake charmers and turned into a major IT hub and a promising economic superpower in the making, a significant part of the credit for this transformation must go to PV due to his bold economic reforms.

Often remembered as the 'Father of Indian Economic Reforms', PV Narasimha Rao saw many ups and downs in his career and personal life as well. He revolutionalised the Indian economy by courageously adopting modern policies that were never taken up before and pursued his passion for literature throughout his life.

Narasimha Rao was popularly called “modern day’s Chanakya” for being a visionary and steering in tough economic and political reforms at a time when India was going through one of the severest economic crises.

He could speak 9 Indian languages (Telugu, Hindi, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu) and 8 foreign languages ( English, French, Arabic, Spanish, German, Greek, Latin and Persian).

The only Telugu Man who has been the Prime Minister of India.

Under Rao’s governance, the Rupee was made convertible on trade account.
The idea of a nuclear test in India was first mooted by Narsimha Rao, though it was implemented by Atal Bihari Vyajpayee.

Rao played a vital role in the freedom struggle against the Nizam who ruled Hyderabad during the 1940s.

He along with his cousin, edited a Telugu weekly magazine called Kakatiya Patrika from 1948 to 1955.

A number of ministers across parties, including BJP leader Subramanian Swamy supported Rao’s name for the Bharat Ratna.

He initiated the ‘look East’ policy. It was during his tenure that India first recognized and revived its links with South-East Asia.

Narasimha Rao was the first PM of India to lead a minority government for a full term.

Came from a humble home. His intellectual centre was India.
He was adopted at the age of three by P. Ranga Rao and Rukminiamma, who hailed from agrarian families.

After completing his schooling he enrolled at the Arts college at the Osmania University from where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. He continued his studies at the Hislop College where he completed a Master’s degree in law.

When freedom struggle was at it’s peak in the State of Hyderabad, was nurtured by Late Swami Ramananda Tirtha of Hyderabad Princely State who played a very important role and guided the liberation movement against the oppressing Nizam. Rao trained himself as a guerrilla fighter to revolt against the Nizam and risked his life because the Nizam’s army was instructed to shoot such freedom fighters at sight.

In his autobiography, PV mentions that on 15-Aug-1947, while the nation was celebrating independence, PV was stranded in a forest trying to evade bullets from the Nizam’s army. Eventually, PV and his guerrilla team survived the gruesome war.

After independence, joined full time politics.

1957 - 1977 : Member, Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly
1962 - 1964 : Minister of Law and Information
1964 - 1967 : Law and Endowments,
1967        : Health and Medicine
1968 - 1971 : Education
When the Indian National Congress split in 1969 Rao stayed on the side of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and remained loyal to her during the Emergency period (1975 - 77)

September 1971 - January 1973 : 4th Chief Minister of United Andhra Pradesh. Well remembered for his land reforms and strict implementation of land ceiling acts.

1968 - 1974 : Chairman, Telugu Academy, Andhra Pradesh

1972 : Vice-President, Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, Madras,

1975 - 1976 : General Secretary, All India Congress Committee

1977 - 1984 : Member, Lok Sabha

Elected to Eighth Lok Sabha from Ramtek in December, 1984.

1978 - 1979 : Chairman, Public Accounts Committee

He participated in a Conference on South Asia convened by the School of Asian and African Studies, London University. Shri Rao also Chaired Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan’s Andhra Centre;

Jan 14, 1980 - Jul 18, 1984 : Ministry of External Affairs

Jun 19, 1983 : “India’s Cultural Influence on Western Europe since the Age of Romanticism” speech given at Alpach, Austria

Jul 19, 1984 - Dec 31, 1984 : Minister of Home Affairs

Dec 31, 1984 - Sep 25, 1985 : Minister of Defence

Sep 25, 1985 : Minister of Human Resource Development

He handled Home, External, Defence and Foreign Affairs in the cabinets of both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He rose to prominence during this time.

PV had distinguished tenure as a foreign minister and he made a mark as an astute politician and calm and cool negotiator.

Jun 21, 1991 - May 16, 1996 : Prime Minister of India

By June 1991, India was facing a near-existential crisis.

Rajiv Gandhi had been murdered. The economy had tanked. The country had just enough foreign exchange to pay for two weeks of imports. Oil prices had trebled after the 1990 Gulf War, crippling an economy largely dependent on imported oil. Remittances from Indians working in the Middle East plummeted; and skittish Indians living abroad withdrew some $900m (£680m) from Indian banks.

Two weeks after Mr Rao took power, India sent 21 tonnes of gold to the Bank of England so that India could get dollars to delay defaulting on outstanding loans. Three states - Punjab, Kashmir and Assam - were wracked by separatist violence. The Soviet Union, India's closest internationally ally, was imploding.
Philosophical mentor

And yet, despite these odds, the doughty Mr Rao pushed reforms like no other Indian leader - foreign investment limits were raised, the stifling licensing system dismantled, monopolies of state-owned companies removed, tariffs reduced, and capital markets and banking reforms were undertaken. He did this by handpicking a technocrat finance minister Manmohan Singh, who later became prime minister himself. He also chose a bunch of officers, who were liberalisers, and backed them to the hilt. He even had his spooks gather reports on Sonia Gandhi and senior party members on their position on economic reforms.

To cut a long story short, the gamble paid off.

By 1994, India's GDP was increasing by 6.7% a year - and would be more than 8% for his final two years. Profits for private companies increased by 84%. Foreign exchange reserves had swelled by more than 15 times. The first private radio stations and airlines began operations. "The India that Mr Rao had inherited was... second-rate. By 1994, this pessimism had given way to confidence that India could compete with the best in the world without losing her soul," writes Sitapati in Half Lion: How PV Narasimha Rao Transformed India, his meticulously researched, warts-and-all, biography of the leader.

Dec 6, 1992Members of the VHP demolished the Babri Mosque (which was constructed by India's first Mughal emperor, Babar) in Ayodhya on 6 December 1992. The site is believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama and is believed by the Hindu Community to be a place of a Hindu temple created in the early 16th century. The destruction of the disputed structure, which was widely reported in the international media, unleashed large scale communal violence, the most extensive since the Partition of India. Hindus were indulged in massive rioting across the country, and almost every major city including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bhopal struggled to control the Unrest. Many criticized the Rao administration for failing to quell the riots.

March 12, 1993 : Rao's crisis management after the March 12, 1993 Bombay bombings was highly praised. He personally visited Bombay after the blasts and after seeing evidence of Pakistani involvement in the blasts, ordered the intelligence community to invite the intelligence agencies of the US, UK and other West European countries to send their counter-terrorism experts to Bombay to examine the facts for themselves.
May 11, 1995 : His speech on Mahatma Gandhi at Unesco was a masterpiece.

Sep 30, 1993 A strong earthquake in Latur, Maharashtra, also killed 10,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in 1993. Rao was applauded by many for using modern technology and resources to organize major relief operations to assuage the stricken people, and for schemes of economic reconstruction.

“Despite his caricature as being indecisive, Narasimha Rao was one of the most decisive leaders this nation has seen. On all crucial issues, he took decisions that have continued to shape India’s rise over the last two decades.

To historians, he was a man whose tenure as Prime Minister was highly eventful and important for modern India – one that should not be overlooked. It is, therefore, a sad thing that his name has been more or less disregarded in India’s history books, and his stature ignored in the annals of Indian politics.

A man of many interests, he likes music, cinema and theatre. His special interest lies in Indian philosophy and culture, writing fiction and political commentary, learning languages, writing poems in Telugu and Hindi and keeping abreast of literature in general. He has successfully published ‘SahasraPhan’, a Hindi translation of late Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana’s famous Telegu Novel ‘Veyi Padagalu’ published by Jnanpith; ‘Abala Jeevitam’, Telugu translation of late Shri Hari Narayan Apte’s famous Marathi Novel, “Pan Lakshat Kon gheto”, published by Central Sahitya Academy. He translated other famous works from Marathi to Telugu and from Telugu to Hindi, and published many articles in different magazines mostly under a pen name. He lectured at Universities in the U.S.A. and West Germany on political matters and allied subjects. As Minister of External Affairs he travelled extensively to U.K., West Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Egypt in 1974.

The alleged scams and charges of paying money as bribes stood between PV and his political future. However, he came out of these clean recently not before he was humiliated, mentally tortured and subjected to negligence by his own party. Fall of Congress Govt, Rise of BJP and return of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to the center stage of congress politics pushed PV into a state of oblivion. He faced all humiliations and court cases with courage and determination and even a novice in politics knows that he did not receive any support from his own party that he served with dedication and sincerity for decades.

A titan humiliated in death
He suffered a heart attack on 9 December 2004 and died 14 days later on 23 December 2004, at the age of 83.

Unfortunately when he was admitted to the hospital in New Delhi, some of the leaders were too enthusiastic and eager to announce his death and even passed a condolence message in hurry. PV in his typical amicable style announced from the hospital that he was still alive and these leaders had to wait for some more time. A tragedy indeed. At last the spirit of PV left his tired and worn-out body hoping that at least after his death, his mortal remains would be confined to flames in a befitting way at New Delhi with all dignities. Sadly, it was not to be as the future events proved. Alas! Fate however laughed at him in death too. The last request of PV to be cremated at New Delhi was not granted and his body was sent to Hyderabad for a State funeral. The former Indian Prime Ministers who all died while in position (Except Rajeev Gandhi) were cremated on the Yamuna banks at New Delhi. Including Sanjay Gandhi who was only an MP who died in an aircraft accident. It is very strange that the mortal remains of a distinguished Prime Minister were packed off to Hyderabad Ways of Indian politics are really weird indeed.

The body of Late PV had to further go through the ordeals and hiccups before it was confined to flames with the mandatory gun salute. At Gandhi Bhavan the citadel of Congress party in the State, the cartage was delayed at the gate for the reasons known best to the leaders concerned. At last, his sons under the overall supervision of Army consigned PVs body to the flames. However, the greatest insult to PV was still awaited even after his death. His half burnt body with head, shoulders, Torso intact was left lying on the pyre while the flames died down . There was none to care to ensure that the body was completely reduced to ashes. Some passers by aghast at the sight informed the authorities who rushed to the spot to complete the formalities. The photograph of the ghastly sight of the half burnt body staring at the sky was published in the newspapers. It looked as if PV was feeling sorry for the way the leaders treated him in his last journey and it was the misfortune of the Telugu people to witness such events. The distinguished scholar Statesman from our Telugu land had to meet most humiliating treatment at the hands of our leaders during his last journey after rendering most distinguished service to the nation. It speaks very low of Telugu people as a whole. I am sure at last the soul of PV must be happy and relieved of thankless people around him in the political field. All sane persons would surely miss him in years to come. We are definitely deprived of a Statesman scholar and such persons are born once in a while in this world amidst gangsters, criminals, cheats, thieves, gravediggers, opportunists, pseudo politicians, camp followers and sycophants who are masquerading as leaders in politics.

With half burnt body left on the funeral pyre staring at sky the Statesman was left high and dry by our thankless men. It was the day of eternal shame for our State. The insults to the great man are difficult even to pen.

Unsung hero of the India story
P.V Narasimha Rao reinvented India – so why is he the forgotten man?
It's unfortunate that the nation barely remembers Narasimha Rao, architect of the new India
The Congress party doesn’t want to remember him: it is based entirely on loyalty to the Gandhi family, and Rao was not a family member. But the nation should remember Rao as the man who changed India, and the world too.

If Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave the country a vibrant democracy, Rao (and Vajpayee) gave it a modern economy.In the 2000s, the cumulative effect of gradual reform finally made India an 8.5% miracle growth economy. Rao got no glory for this. How unjust! He deserves a high place in economic history for challenging the Bank-IMF approach on painful austerity, and focusing instead on a few key changes that produced fast growth with minimum pain. The World Bank itself later changed its policy and started targeting “binding constraints” (like industrial licensing).

It is a sad fact that the nation has failed to recognise this remarkable and only full-term prime minister from a southern state in any substantive manner. Alas, even the recently built airport in Hyderabad was named after Rajiv Gandhi.

PV Narasimha Rao is getting recognition at last, with Telangana deciding to honor the former Prime Minister posthumously, has declared that his birthday, June 28, will be celebrated henceforth as a State event.

Half Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India; Vinay Sitapati - A portrait of P.V. Narasimha Rao that argues convincingly why he deserves to be ranked with popular world leaders.

Sitapati lavishes high praise on NarasimhaRao’s quiet but effective steps in restoring political stability, firmly laying the path to economic progress and launching new plans and projects for industrial development. As Atal Bihari Vajpayee said NarasimhaRao was the ‘true father’ of India’s nuclear programme. Scientist Dr. Arunachalam said that of the five prime ministers he worked with, Rao was the best in understanding the importance of technology in building national policy. Dr.A.P.J.AbdulKalam, lauding the professional excellence of NarasimhaRao, said that for Rao the ‘nation is bigger than the political system’. In the words of prime minister Vajpayee: “Rao told me that the bomb was ready. I only exploded it”. Sitapati writes that Rao was also the ‘crafter of a fresh vision for India in the world’.

The author is at his best in portraying Rao as a queer combination of lion, fox and mouse. “This ability to assess the situation and play mouse, lion or fox – as need be – was Rao’s paramount skill”. Analyzing the qualities of Rao’ head and heart Sitapati writes that as a young man Rao’s personality contained both Hamlet and Don Quixote. In childhood Rao ‘loved the sixteenth century Telugu poem RaghavaPandaveeyam that could be read as both Ramayana and Mahabharata as the situation demanded’. He displayed ‘a skill in dealing with state politicians that Indira Gandhi and Rajiv lacked’. Sitapati writes that Rao faced the same question which Machiavelli had tried to answer four centuries earlier. ‘How does one use power to do good, if gaining and wielding power requires one to do evil? ‘

"Rao was ahead of his times." It is a sentiment echoed by many in India today.