BR #117 | Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years | Montek Singh Ahluwalia | Rupa Publications | ★★★★★

Book - Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years
Author - Montek Singh Ahluwalia
Publisher - Rupa Publications
Rating - ★★★★

Author Bio: (from book) Montek Singh Ahluwalia served as one of India’s senior economic policymakers for three decades, and played a crucial role in the country’s turn from a state-run to a market-based economy. He was special secretary to Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and V.P. Singh in the 1980s, and commerce secretary and finance secretary in the 1990s. He took a break from government in 2001, when he was selected by the IMF as the first director of their newly created Independent Evaluation Office. He returned in 2004 to the Government of India as the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, with the rank of cabinet minister, a position he held up till May 2014. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour, by the President of India in 2011 for his outstanding contribution to economic policy and public service.

Book Review: "Backstage: The Story Behind India’s High Growth Years" by Montek Singh Ahluwalia is a travelogue of India’s journey of economic transformation. The book traverses the politics, personalities, events, and crises in India's recent history. It goes behind the numbers to bring alive the politics of reform when the opportunity provided by a severe balance of payments crisis was seized for wide-ranging reform.

This book is divided into four parts which cover the journey of India's growth rate. The author himself has played a major part in the transformation of India. Part one mostly shows his life, from part two we come across what steps the government had taken to make India's growth rate so high. Some important points are shown in this book which was unknown to date. The rise of the UPA government and its fall has also been discussed in detail. Lastly, the inside view of the Planning Commission has been explained. There are some beautiful pictures which make this book much more interesting to read. A well-crafted biography tells us how Ahluwalia played an important role in the transformation of India into a market-based economy.

The author has discussed the story behind India's economic growth under the UPA government nicely. Narration is witty and humorous with a language that can be grasped easily. The book talks about Indian history, politics, and the economy. It also shows how policy change was pushed through - at first, slowly, under Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and then much more boldly in 1991. The narration is good and engaging. Overall, it is an informative book.

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