The architect of India's economic reforms: Spotlight back on P.V. Narasimha Rao

The birth centenary celebrations of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, which began on Sunday, brought the spotlight back on the life of 'Telugu bidda'.

Nearly 16 years after his death, the leader who is credited with ushering in economic reforms, is getting some recognition with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government in Telangana deciding to organise the year-long celebrations in a befitting manner.

The services of PamulaparthyAVenkata Narasimha Rao, who was disowned by his own Congress party and was allegedly humiliated even in his death, were recalled with the centenary birth celebrations.

After forming the first government in the newly created Telangana state in 2014, K. Chandrashekhar Rao decided to celebrate Narasimha Rao's birthday as a state event.

Every year, state ministers were attending the event but this being the centenary year, the Chief Minister himself led the celebrations by paying rich tributes to PV, as the late leader was popularly known.

Hailing from Vangara in Karimnagar district (now in Telangana), PV was India's first and only Telugu Prime Minister. He also had the distinction of being the first Prime Minister outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to complete a full five-year term.

He steered India out of the economic crisis by integrating the country with the global market and this remained his single biggest achievement.

PV, who also served as the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh and as a Central minister, was known as a scholar, statesman, a polyglot and an author.

PV, who was elected to the Parliament in 1972, held several cabinet posts under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi including Foreign Minister from 1980 to 1984.

Described as 'political Chanakya' by many, PV managed to complete the full term despite being just short of a majority in Parliament. He, however, had to face the allegations of political manipulations to stay in power.

He had the dubious distinction of being the first to face criminal charges and accusations in and out of the top office. He was cleared in all the three cases he faced trial before his death.

"Whatever may be one's views about PV, he has to be acknowledged as the architect of the economic reforms. In fact he himself regretted some latter repercussions of the same. Giving a Manmohan (Singh) to Sonia (Gandhi) is also his contribution though she posthumously dishonoured him," said political analyst Telakapalli Ravi.

He recalled that PV had many firsts to his credit, first PM from South India and the first out of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to complete full term.

"He succeeded in getting support from the left and right at different points for different reasons. He was unparalleled in linguistic plurality in true Indian spirit and brought local governance reforms. On the flip side, allowing Babri Masjid demolition, luring MPs for support tainted his image though he was absolved latter," he said.

"It's heartening to see PV's centenary celebrations start in a befitting manner. KCR and all others deserve appreciation for this. It's a historical correction of injustice to the first PM from the South," Ravi added.

PV also had the distinction of becoming the first Chief Minister of the united Andhra Pradesh (1971-72) from the Telangana region after the violent Telangana movement of 1969-70. He, however, had a disastrous tenure as the Chief Minister.

It was after moving to national politics that PV's services began to get recognised. However, the big moment for him arrived at almost the fag end of his political career.

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