J J Irani
Former director, Tata Sons
I remember it very well. That year, I was the president of the Confederation of Engineering Industry, which was later CII. There was euphoria in the Indian industry. India was on the brink of bankruptcy-our gold had been pledged and there was no option but to liberalise. There were many good things that happened-restrictions on imports and exports were removed, items like steel were deregulated. But implementation was the best part, since India had always been long on planning, short on implementing. Most measures were followed up vigorously by the Finance Minister.
The second step to liberalisation is long overdue. FDI in retail and pension reforms must be taken care of. But packages for infrastructure are the most important. This country cannot progress without a dramatic progress in infrastructure. In 1991, the Finance Minister was very lucky because he had the full support of the then-prime minister, Narasimha Rao. Right now, there are a lot of restrictions. The country feels it has a very nice prime minister, full of integrity. But he should pass some of that to his group of ministers, which he has not been able to do.
Text: Business Standard