Home / Economy / Reforms of 1991 were incomplete, says Nirmala Sitharaman

NEW DELHI : Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that India could have become the fifth biggest economy in the world earlier itself, but for the philosophy of socialism which relied on centralised planning.

Speaking at an event organised by the Hindi Vivek Magazine, Sitharaman also said the 1991 economic reforms were incomplete. In her speech delivered in Hindi, the minister described the reforms undertaken by the then Congress government as "aadhe-adhure" (half-baked).

The minister said the BJP government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee focused on building infrastructure and mobile telephony, which helped the country. Sitharaman also said that the Narendra Modi government initiated major reforms including GST in addition to social welfare schemes such as those that made cooking gas connections and energy saving LED lights more widely available.

The minister also said that beneficiaries of schemes get their entire entitlements now because of the direct benefit transfer scheme. “This is the change brought about by technology…After DBT was introduced, at least 2 trillion worth of benefit has been saved from going into wrong hands," the minister said. She also referred to the government’s initiative of bringing broadband connectivity to all villages, the BharatNet project.

Sitharaman said speaking Hindi gives her "shivers" and she speaks the language with hesitation, news agency PTI reported.

"Addressing an audience in Hindi gives me shivers," a candid Sitharaman said, explaining the circumstances that have led to this condition, the PTI report added.

Sitharaman said she was born and attended college in Tamil Nadu which was in the midst of an agitation against Hindi and also witnessed violent protests against Hindi, the report said.

Students opting for either Hindi or Sanskrit as the second language, even those who stood in merit lists, did not get scholarships given by the state government because of their choice of languages, the PTI report said quoting the minister.

The finance minister, however, continued speaking in Hindi and finished the entire speech which lasted over 35 minutes in Hindi. (ends)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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