Bengaluru: A man who went on to become prime minister of India, Pamulaparti Venkata Narsimha Rao, popularly called PV Narsimha Rao, was once set to become a priest in Tamil Nadu.
How he achieved his ultimate destiny and transformed India, is the basis of Vinay Sitapati’s new book Half Lion: How PV Narasimha Rao transformed India.
“I think he didn’t just survive in politics of the time, he thrived. He knew when to play what. He had unparalleled experience from being the CM and a Union Minister. His range of informants was an integral part because for him, knowledge was power.” said the author. A computer enthusiast in a time when the technology tide hadn’t even completely swept the west, Mr. Rao first visit to America, then in his early 50s, sowed the seeds of curiosity in him. He was fluent in 10 languages, three of which were foreign. A minority in the parliament, one who was said to have the charisma of a dead fish and had no party support at the time, Rao’s contributions to the Indian economy are endless. From free market pricing of IPO’s, increase in foreign investments due to his abolition of control on foreign exchange, one must wonder how he did it. He was a truly a quiet superstar. Sitapati said, “He knew when to be a lion, a fox and a mouse. He knew when to lose and he knew when to lie.” He had the ability to create coalitions, his language skills were of great help, and he knew how to work through the government.
“His policy of divide and rule, he used his dusty associations to get his job done and he made sure they were against each other; his selection of officials was a big part of this. Lastly it was misdirection, like on July 24, 1991, two reforms took place, one was the budget and no one knows about the other. It was the actually the Industrial Policy. He cleverly put it through, knowing fully well all the attention would go towards the budget.” said Mr. Nandan Nilekani....