After reclaiming the helm at Room 134, North Block, P Chidambaram set his eyes upon a simple target — to reduce the country’s widening fiscal deficit and inhibit inflation as much as is possible. More so, Chidambaram’s reinstatement meant that the economy’s waning condition must be assuaged as it is heading slowly for dire straits.
Chidambaram works in close circles and runs a tight shift. He relays specific targets to be met by the Finance Ministry and in what circumstances they are to be followed. The Finance Ministry under his guidance has dealt with an increasing inflation, ever-widening fiscal deficit and a groaning current account deficit.
Be what may, the markets seem to love Chidambaram. Most recently, he defered GAAR (General Anti-Avoidance Rules) and what you get is a massive rally at the end of the day.
And after a three and half year stint with the Home Ministry, Chidambaram returns to the fore. But before delving into what the Finance Minister has in stored for us in the upcoming Budget session, let us take a look at what went into the making of P Chidmabaram.
Born on September 16, 1945 to PalaniappaChettiar and Lakshmi Achi, Chidambaram Palaniappan spent his early childhood in Kanadukathan village in the Sivaganga District of the state of Tamil Nadu. After studying at the Presidency College, Madras, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Chidambaram went to the Law College of the University of Madras, Chennai. Finishing up with his studies in Chennai Chidambaram later went to Harvard Business School where he completed his Master’s in Business Administration.
He was first elected to the Parliament from the Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu in the year 1984 and became Deputy Minister under the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Later on he held the commerce and finance portfolios in various governments.
In the year 1996, Chidmabaram presented a budget that would prove to be cataclysmic to India Inc. He invoked the wrath of the corporates by imposing a Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on profits.
So year 1997 was not looked forward to. Interestingly, the Union Budget for the year 1997-98 was termed as the "dream budget". One of the shortest budget speeches in history, which lasted 90 minutes, saw Chidambaram do the unthinkable. The FM hacked taxes and duties across the board, announced an ambitious black money amnesty scheme, slackened FII investment limits and opened up insurance. The aftermath saw the United Front (UF) government to exit, stage right.
In the elections held in 2004, United Progressive Alliance formed the Government and P. Chidambaram once again became the Finance Minister.
Chidambaram’s main contribution to the Indian society materialized during in the budget of 2008; his daring move to waive off farmers’ debts lend a hand in furthering the cumulative demand in the Indian economy, resulting in the effective cloistering the country from the impact of recession.
On November 30, 2008, Chidambaram was appointed the Union Home Minister after the resignation of Shivraj Patil who had been asked to step aside after the Mumbai terror attacks on November 26, 2008.
In the garb of a Home Minister Chidambaram’s appointment was welcomed by the Indian masses due to his high rate of competency and his reputation of achieving efficacy in matters.
In 2009, Chidambaram was re-elected from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency in the Congress victory and retained the Home ministry.
After a successful run at the Home Ministry, Chidambaram is back as the Finance Minister and as all eyes are upon him, waiting for the Budget that is pegged as the game changer for the government. P Chidambaram — A Timeline
1960s: Returned from the US as a socialist with strong belief in the intrinsic worth of a command economy. He later joined the Congress in 1967 and stood by Indira Gandhi during the split of 1969; also backed bank nationalization as a means for rural prosperity.
1970s: Became the head of the party’s Tamil arm, Swadeshamitran, and later established IllaklyaChintanai (Literary Thought) while supporting the Emergency Years.
1990s: Instated as the Commerce Minister in 1991.
1996 onwards: After leaving the Congress in the ensuing years, Chidambaram co-founded TMC in 1996. Went to become Finance Minister in the UF government and introduced what was termed as the “dream budget”.
2004: Rejoined Congress and was chosen once again as the head of the Finance Ministry owing to his substantial work in the area in previous years.
2008: Became Home Minister after Shivraj Patil was asked to relinquish command of the Home Ministry in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
2009: Re-elected from the Sivaganga constituency and stayed as the Home Minister for another three and a half years.
2012: Reclaims the post of Finance Minister with 16 months left for the general elections.
First Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 13:24