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When Thatcher praised Rajiv, Manmohan for liberalisation

Last updated on: April 8, 2013 19:28 IST

When Thatcher praised Rajiv, Manmohan for liberalisation

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Margaret Thatcher had once hailed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's vision for India's economic liberalisation, which was "boldly initiated" by the then finance minister Manmohan Singh.

Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and Singh had "tackled an enormous problem", like old bureaucratic system of industrial licensing, as they initiated the liberalization process, said Thatcher, the Iron Lady as she was known.

"Rajiv foreshadowed the policy of economic liberalization which was boldly initiated under Prime Minister (PV Narasimha) Rao and Finance Minister Singh," she had said while delivering the 'Rajiv Gandhi Golden Jubilee Memorial Lecture' in Bangalore in 1995.

"These reforms are already leading to the transformation and regeneration of India's economy. And the further and faster they go the greater the gains will be. For many years excessive controls, planning, state ownership, intervention, and taxation held this country back. Now its vast potential is beginning to be realised."

Outspoken Thatcher had also termed protection by the West as "selfish".

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Image: Margaret Thatcher is welcomed at Delhi's international airport by former PM Rajiv Gandhi on April 13, 1985.
Photographs: Reuters

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'India has tackled an enormous problem'

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"Prolonged protection by the less developed countries is folly. And in both cases, though it may get instant plaudits from vested interests, it is self-defeating."

Since 1991, the policies of Prime Minister Rao and Finance Minister Singh (present prime minister) have "courageously" set about transforming India's economy by sweeping away many of the obstacles to economic advance.

"They have tackled an enormous problem. The old bureaucratic system of industrial licensing has largely been dismantled. Customs duties have been reduced. Foreign exchange controls have been relaxed. Financial services are being opened up. The taxes on foreign companies have been cut."

"Unlike many other Asian countries, India has a secure democracy, a tradition of good administration, a rule of law and a relatively wide distribution of private property. These things help ensure the stability and confidence that businesses need to flourish. Foreign investors want to be able to count upon them," she said.

Thatcher, Britain's only woman prime minister, died Monday following a stroke at the age of 87.

She was also fond of "spiritual India" and "sense of responsibility" among Indians.

"There is a spiritual India composed of powerful religious faiths which means that in addition to one's natural desire to achieve a better standard of living for one's own family, your people also have a sense of responsibility to others and a duty to future generations. What makes a man, a family, a community, a nation, is the values by which they live, for values not only inspire policies, they inspire people."


Photographs: Reuters

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