When the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher praised Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh for liberalisation

Margaret ThatcherOutspoken Thatcher had termed protection by the West as selfish. (AP)

Margaret Thatcher had once hailed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's vision for India's economic liberalisation, which was "boldly initiated" by the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh.

Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and Singh had "tackled an enormous problem", like old bureaucratic system of industrial licensing, as they initiated the liberalisation process, said Thatcher, the Iron Lady as she was known.

"Rajiv foreshadowed the policy of economic liberalisation which was boldly initiated under Prime Minister (PV Narasimha) Rao and Finance Minister Singh," she had said while delivering the 'Rajiv Gandhi Golden Jubilee Memorial Lecture' in Bangalore in 1995.

"These reforms are already leading to the transformation and regeneration of India's economy. And the further and faster they go the greater the gains will be. For many years excessive controls, planning, state ownership, intervention, and taxation held this country back. Now its vast potential is beginning to be realised."

Outspoken Thatcher had also termed protection by the West as "selfish".

"Prolonged protection by the less developed countries is folly. And in both cases, though it may get instant plaudits from vested interests, it is self-defeating."

Since 1991, the policies of Prime Minister Rao and Finance Minister Singh (present prime minister) have "courageously" set about transforming India's economy by sweeping away many of the obstacles to economic advance.

"They have tackled an enormous problem. The old bureaucratic system of industrial licensing has largely been dismantled. Customs duties have been reduced. Foreign exchange controls have been relaxed. Financial services are being opened up. The taxes on foreign companies have been cut."

"Unlike many other Asian countries, India has a secure democracy, a tradition of good administration, a rule of law and a relatively wide distribution of private property. These things help ensure the stability and confidence that businesses need to flourish. Foreign investors want to be able to count upon them," she said.

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