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Profile: Jaswant Singh

In July 2002, Jaswant was made the Minister for Finance and Company Affairs, the second time that he became the Finance Minister.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2004 20:08 IST

Finance Minister Jaswant Singh was born on January 3, 1938 in village Jasol in Barmer district to late Thakur Sardar Singhji and shrimate Kunwar Baisa. He was brought up in rural western Rajasthan, in the Thar desert.

With a BA and BSc, Jaswant was educated at Mayo College at Ajmer and later ended up in the Indian Army as a cavalry officer, living up to his childhood ambition. Jaswant gave up his commission and joined politics sometime in early 1970s.

His political career has seen Jaswant winning as Member of Parliament for five times, yet losing a crucial election when the BJP came to power in 1998-99.

He lost the Lok Sabha elections from Rajasthan but it was his proximity to Prime Minister AB Vajpayee that saw him getting elected to the Rajya Sabha in mid-1998 and then being made the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

However, Jaswant's role was not only handling financial matters at Yojana Bhawan but he was made part of all spheres of government functioning.

Over the past four-five years, Jaswant has been the Minister for External Affairs, besides being the Defence Minister and Minister for Surface Transport and Minister of Electronics, the last three positions being held for a few months each.

In the recent past, Jaswant has often acted as Vajpayee's globetrotting trouble-shooter. Within his party, Jaswant is considered a gentleman politician but also known for his heated debates in Parliament.

In July 2002, Jaswant was made the Minister for Finance and Company Affairs, the second time that he became the Finance Minister. He was made the Finance Minister during BJP’s 13-day government in 1996.

The past six months that Jaswant has been at the helm of affairs at the Finance Ministry., there has been a lot of action. Jaswant brought his own style of functioning in the ministry and made it clear that what he wished to do for the common man as the Finance Minister was simple: The poor man must get his food and the housewife have some money in her purse.

The Unit Trust of India Life crisis, which dented the image of the government, was resolved a clear roadmap was drawn to split India’s largest mutual fund into two entities. But the government drew a lot of flak from public and the BJP alike for the Vijay Kelkar reports on direct and indirect tax restructuring.

Jaswant is the first Finance Minister to do away with the customary pre-budget meetings that the FM and other North Block mandarins had with industry, economists and others, for several years. He also brought out a mid-year reviews of the economy, and as an industrialist put it: "He made it possible, for once, to show that the annual Budget exercise need not be the only time that the government would make important policy announcements".

Author of six books, Jaswant’s interests include international affairs, defence, environment, ecology and wildlife, though not in the same order. During his leisure time, this lover of horses likes equestrian sports, reads books and listens to music. He also indulges in golf and chess.

First Published: Feb 17, 2003 18:12 IST