Finance Minister of India: The movers and shakers of the Indian economy
India’s economy has grown rapidly over the past decade, with its gross domestic product almost tripling from $470 billion in 2003 to $1.9 trillion in 2013. As a result, the role of India’s finance minister has become increasingly complex and nuanced, tasked with keeping the economy growing while ensuring that low-income workers are not left behind by the growth. Ahead of India’s elections this spring, we take a look at the men who have held one of the most powerful offices in the world’s largest democracy.
10th Finance Minister – Dr. Manmohan Singh
Dr. Manmohan Singh was born in 1932 in the Punjab province of British India. He is an economist and politician who served as the Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014. As Finance Minister, he is credited with helping to revive the Indian economy after the 1991 economic crisis and introducing significant economic reforms. Some of his notable accomplishments include reducing the fiscal deficit, privatizing several state-owned enterprises, and deregulating the banking sector. He was also instrumental in establishing a strong relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. His tenures as Finance Minister and Prime Minister coincided with a period of rapid economic growth in India; during this time, foreign investment increased by 6% per year on average and exports grew at 10% per year. His government oversaw policies related to human development, national security, nuclear power generation in conjunction with global disarmament efforts through permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council.
9th Finance Minister – Mr. P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram was born on September 16, 1945, in Kanadukathan, Tamil Nadu. He is an Indian politician and lawyer who currently serves as a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of India. Chidambaram has been India’s Finance Minister three times: first from May 1996 to March 1998; again from January 2004 to August 2008; and most recently from October 2012 to present. Under his guidance, India has seen tremendous economic growth, with GDP expanding by an average of 7.5% per year since 2004. Thanks to his stewardship, India is now the world’s second-fastest growing major economy after China.
8th Finance Minister – Mr. Yashwant Sinha
Mr. Yashwant Sinha is a senior politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He has served as finance minister twice, first from March 1998 to July 2002, and again from November 2014 to May 2019. Mr. Sinha is known for his pro-business policies and has been credited with helping to spur economic growth during his tenure. He has also been instrumental in enacting a number of financial reforms, including the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). During his second term, he was often described as a rock star by analysts who applauded him for encouraging foreign investment into India and taking steps to curb tax evasion. His appointment is expected to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi continue on a path of fiscal consolidation.
7th Finance Minister – Mr. Jaswant Singh
Mr. Mukherjee has been credited with putting India back on track after the 2008 global financial crisis. He was praised for his handling of the situation and was able to bring in much-needed reforms. Some of his notable accomplishments include reducing fiscal deficit, introducing Direct Tax Code and Goods and Services Tax. He also oversaw the implementation of UPI (Unified Payment Interface).
6th Finance Minister – Mr. Pranab Mukherjee
A Bengali Brahmin, Mr. Mukherjee was born in a village in West Bengal in 1935. After moving to Kolkata, he became involved in politics, joining the Indian National Congress party in 1969. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Minister of Commerce in 1995 and Finance Minister in 2009. As Finance Minister, Mr. Mukherjee was instrumental in enacting several key economic reforms, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST). He is widely respected for his knowledge of economics and his ability to navigate complex political situations.
4th Finance Minister – Mr. Manmohan Singh
Mr. Manmohan Singh was the fourth Finance Minister of India, serving from 1991 to 1996. He is widely credited as the architect of India’s economic reforms which led to the country’s rapid economic growth in the 1990s. Under his tenure, India liberalized its economy, abolished restrictions on foreign trade and investment, and implemented significant fiscal reforms. These reforms put India on the path to becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Mr. Singh is currently a member of parliament and serves as chairman of the Planning Commission.
3rd Finance Minister – C Subramaniam
C Subramaniam was the third finance minister of India, serving from 1966 to 1971. He is credited with ushering in an era of high economic growth in India, dubbed the Subramanian Miracle. Under his tenure, India’s GDP grew by an average of 5.5% per year. Subramaniam also created a number of institutions that continue to play a vital role in the Indian economy, such as the Reserve Bank of India and the Planning Commission.
2nd Finance Minister – Madhu Dandavate
A central figure in the Indian economy, the finance minister is responsible for all economic and financial matters. He or she formulates the country’s budget, manages public finances, and oversees economic policy.
1st Finance Minister – C. Rajagopalachari
Rajagopalachari was India’s first finance minister, serving from 1947 until his retirement in 1950. He was a close advisor to Mahatma Gandhi and played a key role in the country’s economic development. Rajagopalachari was a strong advocate of free market principles and helped to liberalize the Indian economy. He also helped to establish India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India. Rajagopalachari’s policies helped to lay the foundation for India’s economic growth in the post-independence era.