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Vajpayee – The Grand Old Man of Indian Politics

Jun 13, 2018

Vajpayee – The Grand Old Man of Indian Politics
Vajpayee – The Grand Old Man of Indian Politics | Credit: Heraldlinks

It is very rare to see politicians who are loved by the masses unanimously. Especially in India, politicians have defined groups of people who love them and people who hate them. It is very difficult to become popular and keep up that goodwill for a long period of time. One man who has achieved this difficult feat is Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mr Vajpayee is a former Prime Minister who has officially held the post for three times. He was quite popular for leading India towards an elevated GDP and for improving foreign relations to a great extent.

This senior leader has been lovingly called as the Bhishma Pitamaha of Indian Politics after the wise Bhishma from the Indian epic Mahabharata. Mr Vajpayee was born in December 1924 and is currently 93 years old. News of his ill-health has been making the rounds in the media, however, it is being said that he is stable now. Amidst all the debates on our current political scenario, let us take a minute to know in detail about our former Prime Minister who took many decisions that changed the way India was seen and steered the country in a new direction.

A great orator

A little-known fact about Mr Vajpayee is that he had been actively involved in politics since his childhood. He had also been arrested when he opposed British India by participating in the Quit India Movement.

He tested the waters of communism too before becoming a moderate BJP voice. Most importantly, he was an excellent orator who could hold his audience in raptures and inspire them. In fact, Jawahar Lal Nehru heard him speak and remarked that he would become the Prime Minister of India one day!

He put India on the map- There is no doubt that he fast-tracked India's growth in his tenures as the Prime Minister. He is responsible for making the Golden Quadrilateral a reality. The project connected the major cities of Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai through roadways and this boosted trade across the country like never before. Another major development he facilitated was the privatisation of many metal and petroleum businesses that were exclusively run by the government previously.

He put the spotlight on Hindi

Even before he took office as the Prime Minister, he was the External Affairs Minister in Morarji Desai’s government. During this time, he gave a speech at the United Nations in Hindi. He made heads turn by speaking in Hindi at an international platform and his speech was widely acclaimed.

He ushered India into the nuclear game

He became famous for declaring India as a nuclear weapon state by conducting 5 nuclear tests in one week. This was a bold move. 

However, he was well aware of the ills of nuclear weapons and always took a stand that our country will not use the weapons as a form of aggression.

He made smart economic moves

He carried forward many successful policies of PV Narasimha Rao’s government and lead India to a stable economy with rising GDP. By the end of his tenure, inflation was less than 4%. He introduced the Fiscal Responsibility Act that focussed on bringing down fiscal deficit. This provided a boost to public sector savings. He made all this possible even when there were many economic problems in the world market such as the Gulf War, the oil crisis, the 9/11 attacks, etc.

He was behind the telecom story

Mr Vajpayee was the man behind the telecom revolution in India. He made sure that the fixed license fee structure was done away with and replaced it with a new revenue-sharing model.

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited was established to clearly separate the provision of telecom services and the formulation of policies. The groundwork for competitive telecom services was laid in this way. 

He set the tone for India’s space explorations

Many are unaware that it was Mr Vajpayee who set the stage for India’s advancements in space sciences. 

He announced in 2003 on India’s Independence Day that the country will be sending its very own exploration vehicle to the moon. He said that Chandrayaan – 1 will go to the moon in 2008. This was one of the first such projects that the ISRO developed and we know that there has been no looking back ever since. 

He stood rock-solid amidst disasters

During his tenure as the Prime Minister, the country went through some of the most devastating occurrences, both natural and man-made. The Kargil War, the Indian Airlines hijack attack, the Gujarat communal riots, the Bhuj earthquake, etc are all disasters that shook the country from within. Even though he invited criticism with a few of his moves, he did his job as the Prime Minister with rock-solid tenacity and steered the country out of the setbacks like a true leader.