Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has said that social tension can affect economic reforms and the current government should use its huge mandate to push through crucial policy changes.
“Obviously, social peace is a very important pre-requisite for any meaningful reforms that will not only push up the country’s growth rate, but also promote social harmony,” Singh, who as finance minister opened up India’s economy in a famous budget in 1991, told HT in an exclusive interview.
Singh said the Babri Masjid’s demolition in 1992 did affect the pace of reforms.
Hindu activists demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, a 16th-century mosque believed to have been built over a shrine which exhorted the piece of land as Ram Janmabhoomi.
The resultant communally charged atmosphere triggered riots and serial explosions rock Mumbai killing many.
“We inherited the anti-Babri Masjid crusade that Advani ji launched and on December 6, 1992 the mosque had been demolished. Riots broke out in various parts of the country. So, we didn’t have too much time to push through all the reforms programmes that had a cohesive mix of both economic and social content,” Singh said.
Singh, who was the Prime Minister between 2004 and 2014, said that the big mandate that the Narendra Modi-led government enjoys in Parliament offers an opportunity to hasten the pace of reforms.
“It is an opportunity for a country, where a government for the first time after Rajiv ji’s victory in 1984, has a huge majority in Parliament. They should use this opportunity to bring about a broad-base consensus on reforms,” he said. “There should be every effort to deal with the social content of economic reforms. Social peace and harmony are essential for any credible reform programme.”