Demonetization and the GST were not the only disruptions that changed India. In The Rise of Goliath, A.K. Bhattacharya provides a fresh perspective on many more such disruptive events that shaped India in the last seven decades.
The basic premise of this book is that the Modi regime may have caused as many as three major economic policy disruptions in a relatively short period of five years, but disruptions per se have not been uncommon in India’s journey of more than seven decades as an independent country. Indeed, it can be argued that India’s journey as an independent country can be better understood if seen through the prism of disruptions. This book, therefore, will take you through such disruptions, starting right from India’s Partition in 1947 to the launch of the GST in 2017.
India after Partition in 1947 saw 24 per cent of its total land area being hived off as a new country—Pakistan. This was perhaps the first and immediate consequence of the disruption caused by Partition.
In July 1954, less than a decade after India’s Independence from British rule, its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, went to Punjab to inaugurate the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, constructed on the Indian side of the Sutlej River. Nehru’s inaugural address, delivered in Hindi, would mark a significant turn in the way the government would become a key player in rebuilding India’s economic infrastructure and industry after Independence.
The second phase of nationalization of economic activities in the country from 1966-77 began under the prime ministership of Indira Gandhi. It caused no less disruption than the first round of nationalization in the 1950s. But this time there was a crucial difference. The second phase of the rise of the State had deeper political roots.
In 1968, Indian farmers harvested about 17 million tonnes of wheat, surpassing by a long margin the previous highest output level of 12 million tonnes recorded in 1964.Such a quantum jump in production and productivity led Indira Gandhi to announce the Wheat Revolution in July 1968.
For most Indians, 19 October 1973 does not ring a bell. But this was the day when a decision taken by twelve members of the OPEC fundamentally altered the way India would manage its economy for all times to come. That day at Vienna, OPEC decided to place an embargo on oil exports to the United States and raise prices of crude oil. In six months or so, oil prices spiked by over 300 per cent. India, among many other countries, was a major sufferer.
At around 8 a.m. on 26 June, Indira Gandhi walked into the studios of the All India Radio to deliver an address to the nation—to announce that she had declared an internal emergency. A Cabinet meeting had approved her proposal earlier at an emergency session convened at 6 a.m. And the President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, had already signed the proclamation of the ordinance to declare the Emergency.
The demolition of the Babri Masjid happened on 6 December 1992, under the watch of the P.V. Narasimha Rao government at the Centre. The role of the BJP and the VHP is quite well-publicized, but that the Congress too had an equally significant role is what makes the entire disruption of the temple demolition more problematic.
A new policy recommending the entry of the private sector to help the government overcome its resources gap was unheard of in India till then. The Telecom Policy 1994 in that sense marked a new phase in India’s economic reforms. What followed in May 1994 was nothing short of a disruption—but a positive one that fundamentally changed the contours of India’s telecommunications system. This development ushered in technology without restrictions, allowed capacity to grow unhindered and offered more choices to consumers at lower costs.
Nine days after Diwali was celebrated on 30 October 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to address the nation on the evening of 8 November. Notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination, which accounted for about 86 per cent of the total currency in circulation, were to be denotified or annulled by midnight and a detailed action plan was outlined on how the demands for cash would be met over the next few months and how individuals could exchange their old annulled notes with the new ones in the next fifty-odd days.
The three-year journey the Narendra Modi government traversed before launching the GST on 1 July 2017 was marked by many exciting phases of development. It took almost a decade of planning before India could introduce what is arguably its biggest and also the most disruptive tax reform in the country—the GST.
How did these disruptions impact India? How did they influence the rise of this Goliath? Find out in The Rise of Goliath