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Up for Debate: Scientific Planning: India's Experience

Soon after independence in 1947, India placed its bet on a complex and rigid central-planning system to organize the production and distribution of goods. The bet proved unsuccessful. By the late 1980s, India had fallen far behind the Southeast Asian "tiger" economies, which it had once far surpassed in wealth. In 1991, confronted with a drastic economic crisis and with virtually no foreign exchange reserves left to pay its obligations, India began a sweeping reform process to open its economy to a changing world.


P. Chidambaram
Finance Minister of India, 1996-1998

P. Chidambaram was India's finance minister in the government that oversaw India's opening to trade and the rollback of the Permit Raj, in the early 1990s. He describes the planned system's failure to deliver growth.

Manmohan Singh
Finance Minister for India, 1991-1996

An eminent economist, Manmohan Singh was India's finance minister and the principal architect of the reforms that opened India's economy beginning in 1991. He is now a senior leader of the Congress Party. He describes the exhaustion of central planning.

Narayana Murthy
Founder and CEO of Infosys

Narayana Murthy founded Infosys, India's pioneering information technology company and the first Indian firm to be listed in the U.S. stock market.

Yashwant Sinha
Finance Minister for India

Yashwant Sinha is India's current finance minister. He looks back on the mind-set that embraced planning and state ownership.

Jairam Ramesh
Chief Economic Advisor to India's Congress Party, 1991-1998

Jairam Ramesh is a senior economic advisor to India's Congress Party. He describes the aspirations of the central-planning model, its limited accomplishments, and its ultimate failure to satisfy very basic, practical economic needs.

Lord Professor Meghnad Desai
Professor of Economics, London School of Economics

A British economist of Indian origin, Lord Professor Meghnad Desai was an early dissenter to the view that centralized planning was best for rapid development. But his views were in the minority for several decades.

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