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Known for his habit of dozing off, India's former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda was literally caught napping when industry leaders went to meet him to discuss the deteriorating state of the Indian economy, DLF Chairman K P Singh has recollected in his autobiography.
The billionaire realtor, on the other hand, praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for prompt action and a slew of measures taken to re-energise industry during the global economic slowdown in 2008 in his autobiography, 'Whatever the Odds'.
Narrating instances of how one leader can be such a contrast to the one before, Singh recollected a meeting between industry leaders and Gowda, who was the Prime Minister of the country from June 1, 1996, to April 21, 1997.
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"I recall accompanying industrialist L M Thapar as part of a delegation of businessmen to meet Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. We had requested the meeting to apprise him of the deteriorating state of the Indian economy with suggestions on what needed to be done," Singh writes in his book.
Singh said: "In the Prime Minister's office, Thapar started his presentation, but we got the distinct impression that Deve Gowda was not listening...Suddenly he (Deve Gowda) sat up and exclaimed, 'I am glad that the economy is doing well'."
Thapar immediately corrected Gowda and said they had come to meet him to tell that the economy was in dire straits, the book added.
Later on, Singh said, Gowda had promised that various government departments will look into the industry suggestions.
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"Nothing happened and the economic situation continued to deteriorate," he writes. In direct contrast to this meeting was another on November 3, 2008, when industry captains met current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the repercussions of the global meltdown, the DLF Chairman recalled.
"The Prime Minister listened carefully to every word we said. Being an economist, he understood our concerns and suggestions. Barely a few days later, he announced a slew of measures to re-energise industry and provide the much-needed impetus," Singh said.
The DLF Chairman also recalled how Prime Minister Manmohan Singh immediately reacted to his letter and called a high-power meeting comprising the then Finance Minister, Commerce Minister, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman and RBI Governor.
"The Prime Minister then invited each one of us to give our views and recommendations. He formed a committee on the spot and assured us that they would be available 24x7 if any problem was to be redressed," Singh said in his autobiography.
"India was one of the few countries to survive the recession relatively unscathed. It was reassuring for the business community to have such sure-footed leaders at the helm who understood what growth of the economy means to the future of Indian and its people," he said.
Singh's autobiography was released by Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of GE, last evening.