Bengaluru: Have you ever imagined what India was like before it stepped into the world of liberalisation? How it was to wait for years to buy a Bajaj scooter or even a watch. The generation born after the economic reforms of 1991 cannot realise India of those days. Mr R.M. Rajgopal, the author of Retro India, brings forth his autobiographical account that can be nostalgic to a generation that grew in the Nehru era and an eye-opener for those who face different challenges today.
“This book is a direct result of my varied experience in the Indian corporate sector. I wrote it in the form of an autobiography as every one of these incidents was from real life,” he said. Asked if he had planned to write an autobiographical account, he said, “I had not planned to write this book and had convinced myself that my preferred genre was short fiction. I had already published one collection of short stories, which had received high praise. I then wrote a couple of vignettes to escape the tedium of a novel that I had involved myself with.”
Mr Rajgopal was critical of the Hindu rate of growth, which was around 1.5-3% during the governments preceding Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s, and when he entered the corporate sector, “India was bound hand and foot in terms of economy and business”.
He said, “It was a highly frustrating period. Amplifying the slowness of decisions by the bureaucracy, there was also rampant corruption. The admixture was deadly for business and industry. Growth rates naturally slowed down and to further exacerbate the situation, there were issues of perennial foreign exchange problems and high taxes. All in all, a recipe for disaster.”
Mr Rajgopal opined that the economic reforms of 1991 were the turning point that India deserved. “It was only in 1991 that a cranial Prime Minister in partnership with his quiet self-effacing turbaned finance minister, in extreme boldness, unshackled our country. India rose to stratospheric heights as it was meant to,” the author commented.
One of the primary challenges that the nation today faces is poverty and the widening gap between rich and poor. According to Mr Rajgopal, the answer to this dilemma is 9-10% GDP growth.
The vignettes are set in four locations, Kochi, Chennai, Kota and Delhi, but have a special place for Kota. “I was at a very impressionable age. Technically, I joined work when I was still a teenager! Professionally, however, the job had no learning and it was fortunate that I was transferred out after three-and-a-half years. As one ages, one is prone to nostalgia and this is where Kota positions itself above the others. My personal growth and maturing into adulthood,” he concluded....