Twenty years ago, India faced a fiscal crisis caused by profligate public spending and rising oil prices after the first Persian Gulf War. There was a risk it would default on its international payments.
The finance minister, an English-educated Sikh economist named Manmohan Singh, responded to an almost unmanageable situation by liberalizing trade and industrial policies.
So India entered a bright world of market-driven capitalism after years of socialist darkness, and was set on its current path of almost 8 percent annual growth in gross domestic product.
Or so the story goes. Like all historical watersheds, India’s economic liberalization in 1991 has generated its own share of heroes and myths. Few books or articles in the mainstream press about Indian politics and economy in the past two decades have been judicious with their praise for Manmohan Singh, the apparent slayer of India’s socialist fantasies, the prophet of free-market logic, and for the past seven years prime minister of India.
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