“ Achhe Din” is one of the most talked about idea since Narendra Modi’s elevation as the Prime Minister candidate of BJP. It started gaining ground after campaigning for Lok Sabha election started and it won’t be incorrect to say that BJP used it as the ladder to grab power at the center. For common Indian during Lok Sabha elections, “Achhe Din” was something which would bring happiness and joy and remove difficulties which are faced in day to day life. More importantly it was also supposed to give relief to people from UPA-2 rule which was marred by corruption charges. Now that Modi government celebrates one year of completion in office, debate around “Achhe Din” is heating up once again. For Modi supporters those good days have arrived, for his critics it is a mirage as it was ever before. Away from this hullaballoo of ongoing debate, I wish to take readers around 24 years back in history to share something when “Achhe Din” arrived without making any noise and changed my life like never before.
For me the beginning of “ Achhe Din” had its origin in the new economic policies. In the year 1991 in the month of May, Manmohan Singh presented his first annual budget. This was the time when I had started my college days. I was just getting baptized in Economics. The budget was a watershed in many ways. A series of steps were taken to unshackle Indian economy from the then infamous “Licence Raj”. Manmohan Singh said it all when he commended his budget proposals to parliament by paraphrasing Victor Hugo: “No power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”
This budget came in the background of implementation of Mandal commission recommendations which created fear in the minds of forward caste about prospect of getting a government job. I was also worried. Suddenly a big portion of available jobs had gone as Mandal commission recommendations had reserved 27% jobs of OBCs. Reservation was a fact of life and we had to manage things considering that 27% jobs had gone. My worry got subsided when I realized that things had started changing. It is not that the clamour for government job died but new opportunities in the private sector started grabbing media headlines. As a lower middle class Indian, getting a job was not just a priority for me but also desperation. Manmohan Singh had made “Economics” a very popular subject as he brought economy to the center of all other activities. Earlier Home Minister was most sought after cabinet post which was now Finance Minister, all because of a Sardar who told entire India that Economics comes first. As I kept on learning Economics over a period of 3 years, I realized that I will get job opportunities as Economics was in demand. I was mentally ready to take a private sector job.Things had indeed started changing.
I passed my graduation in 1994 and started looking for a job as most of the students would do those days. I had limited options of applying for probationary officer jobs, railways jobs, staff selection commission vacancies and the most coveted civil services. But I got offer to work with a financial services company, a kind of a government company in spirit but not by law. I landed up being in Mumbai now. This was a time when Mumbai was also changing. I could see many new offices opening. Foreign companies were ready to open offices in India. Indian private sector was also doing well. Many job opportunities were getting created. There was a new India along with old but the difference between old and new was more pronounced now. The growing tribe of nouveau riche had started making their mark. Though I was not part of this nouveau riche tribe I was happy with what I was. I was leading a decent life.
Time passed by and I kept on sailing with time. Whenever I got a good opportunity, I changed my job. Every job change made me realize that only because of economic reforms I am getting this opportunity. It was not just about job opportunity. The quality of life also improved. Changes that followed post economic reforms positively impacted all aspects of life. And needless to say the credit for economic reforms goes to Manmohan Singh significantly. There is no denying the fact that Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao had a big role to play in this. It was he who had brought Manmohan Singh to kick start a series of measures to rejuvenate Indian economy. Manmohan Singh would have worked with a team for sure and credit goes to them as well. Manmohan Singh did something which changed the entire canvas of Indian politics. All the governments which came to power after P.V. Narasimha Rao left could not dare reverse economic reforms. The benefits of reforms were so palpable that every government had to follow economic reforms.
Today when people debate whether “Achhe Din” will come or not, I must humbly admit that my “Achhe Din” was brought by none other than Manmohan Singh. I am not part of who is who of India but do represent that Indian middle class population which has benefitted from economic reforms. Manmohan Singh for me is surely among one of those Indians who redefined India. This was a different Manmohan Singh from the one that we saw during UPA-1 and UPA-2 as the Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister, was completely different from what he was as a Finance Minister. During UPA-2 regime lots of issue of corruption came out and Manmohan Singh was charged with being mute spectator and someone who did not do enough to stop it. But he did some great work as Prime Minister as well but that element of negativity undid all his good governance of 8 years preceding that .This does not in any way negate his good work that he did as the Finance Minister.
Also economic reforms and its benefits will continue to get debated for ages. It is said that a large section of Indian population is yet to get benefit of economic reforms that he started but then Manmohan Singh did lift many Indians out of poverty. The IT and ITES sector which employs lakhs of people could grow because of new economic policies. Emergence of India as economic power could happen only because of economic reforms. True we have miles to go but we did start our march towards a defined direction in 1991. I am hoping that Modi government will bring Achhe Din for many Indians who are yet to get benefited by economic reforms. True last one year of the current has been very disappointing but we can wait and hope that things improve.
By Vivek Sharma