256 / May 3, 2024

AK Bhattacharya on Manmohan Singh, Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti Project, & Raghuram Rajan

73 Minutes

256 / May 3, 2024

AK Bhattacharya on Manmohan Singh, Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti Project, & Raghuram Rajan

73 Minutes
Listen on

About the Episode

This week is in conversation with A.K. Bhattacharya, the Editorial Director of the Business Standard, about India’s economic reforms of the 90s through a close-up view of the many disruptions that took place in that decade!

Major Talking Points With A.K. Bhattacharya

Most Iconic Finance Minister Of India?

How Can Government Incentivize Billionaires To Stay?

Why Couldn’t India Match Singapore/China’s trajectory?

Banking System Scam Of 1992 EXPLAINED

Watch this fascinatingly insightful conversation about the role that the finance ministry plays in India’s economic growth. Also will be explored is how they have shaped up the lives of crores of people in India… Tune in NOW!

Watch all other episodes on The Neon Podcast – Neon

Or view it on our YouTube Channel at The Neon Show – YouTube

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (0:00 – 0:04)

Who, according to you, has been the most iconic finance minister of India?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (0:04 – 0:14)

Well, without doubt, it’s Manmohan Singh. Manmohan Singh was truly a finance minister who changed the Indian economy. At the same time, he faced a lot of controversies also.


  1. R. Puri was brought in because…


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (0:14 – 0:15)

And brought in by whom?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (0:15 – 0:22)

Brought in by Mrs. Gandhi’s government during emergency time. And one of the first things that K. R. Puri was to approve a loan for Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti project.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (0:22 – 0:23)

It was Sanjay Gandhi who brought in Maruti?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (0:24 – 0:28)

Absolutely. The original creator of Maruti was Sanjay Gandhi’s idea of a small car project.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (0:28 – 0:36)

It was owned by him? Yeah, owned by him. Yeah, absolutely.


Binny Bansal moved to Singapore. What could the Indian government have done to have incentivized him to be here?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (0:36 – 0:58)

Raghuram Rajan was appointed by the UPA government. But I think their relationship with the Narendra Modi government was strained. The point I’m making is this, whether it is this government or the previous governments, whether it is the Moraji Desai government or it’s the Nehru government, the tensions and stressful relations between the RBI and RBI governor and the finance ministry and the prime minister is a story that is an ongoing saga.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (0:58 – 1:27)

Hi, this is Siddharth Aluwalia. Welcome to The Neon Show. Today, I’m glad to bring you some of the most interesting stories of the Indian finance ministry.


This is a ministry behind the economic reforms that have taken place in India. And I have today with me Ashok Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard and the author of India’s Finance Minister.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:28 – 1:29)

Hello Siddharth. How are you?


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:30 – 2:10)

So glad to have you on The Neon Show today. Me too. I’m very excited to dive into some of these stories.


And for our audience to go back into the history of Indian economic reforms. Today, we are especially going to talk about the Volume 2 of your book, which captures the Indian finance ministry between 1977 to 1998. But we’ll also go a little bit forward and backward both ways, right!


Because where we are today is all courtesy to what we have done previously, both positive and negative as India.

So what is the role of the finance ministry in India? First, I would just like for our audience to dive deep into that before I go into granular details.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (2:11 – 4:48)

Well, the finance ministry is a very critical arm of the government. And as you would know that a government cannot run without running its finances well. And running its finances is possible if you can manage your resources well.


And how you manage your resources is by taxing people, companies, services, goods, etc. And how well you can spend those resources that you have collected through taxes and non-tax revenues on various schemes and various projects. And so, therefore, the finance minister is at the center of this very critical initiative. How do you raise resources for the government?


And how do you manage to spend them? Now, please remember that the finance ministry as such is not just an instrument of economic policymaking. There are a lot of political economy initiatives that this ministry takes.


In the sense that it is not a question of implementing the new tax rates or planning new expenditure programs. But it is also about what kind of programs need to be introduced and in what manner you can raise those resources. Whether you want to tax the rich or whether you want to give a lot of benefits to the poor.


So, therefore, a finance minister has to be completely in tune with the political ideology or the political vision of the party as well as the party in power as well as the prime minister. So, I have seen that in the last so many 75-76 years, the equation between the prime minister and the finance minister has become very very critical. Because he is not the finance minister it is not just about you know rupees and dollars.


The finance minister is also about how do you make sure that the political ideology of a government, the ruling party, is implemented most optimally and in a way that the government gets more bang for the buck.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (4:48 – 4:53)

Yeah, and who according to you has been the most iconic finance minister of India?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (4:53 – 8:25)

Well, without doubt, it’s Manmohan Singh. I mean not just because he implemented the 100-day reforms that were not only necessary, overdue reforms, but also if those reforms had not been introduced then India, the Indian economy would have been a different story. The kind of the growth that you saw after them, after those changes, is something that we all as Indians are very proud of.


And the interesting thing is what Manmohan Singh did in those five budgets. The broad tenor of those policies have been maintained even now. So, the reforms, the direction that he gave to the Indian economy that have by and large been followed.


Yes, there have been changes, deviations, some sort of rollback has also happened. For example, in the tariff policy there is some rethinking going on, some sort of subsidies for economic production like the production linked incentive schemes. There is some rethinking going on.


But the broad tenor of government should not be in the business of running businesses, that has been accepted. So, that is Manmohan Singh’s biggest contribution. And the second biggest contribution of Manmohan Singh has been the way he built a team of expertise in the finance ministry.


We did not see it in any other time, any other finance ministry could build that kind of resources. So, his team was actually if I may call the dream team that he created to implement economic policies. And that team was such that it could differ with the finance minister and the finance minister will recognize those differences and will try to bring on board those differences and resolve those differences, reconcile those differences and frame policies.


He was not unwilling, Manmohan Singh was not unwilling to take back his policies. There have been many instances where he has announced something and then he has modified his stance. Take the question of his, he wanted to set up a tariff commission.


Now, the tariff commission was never set up under him. He realized that the tariff commission in the Indian context could actually raise tariffs instead of bringing tariffs down. So, he almost gave the idea of a tariff commission a decent burial.


He also gave a lot of legislative power to institutions. The Securities and Exchange Board of India was set up by VP Singh, his predecessor finance minister. But it didn’t have the statutory power.


Manmohan Singh decided to give it statutory power. He decided to bring in insurance reforms. He could not see to its implementation, but he was a man who decided on it.


He decided to bring in the idea that the government should not have a free check as far as its deficits are concerned. It must go out to the market and borrow money through the RBI Reserve Bank of India and meet its deficit. Good old days, what used to happen is that the government could issue ad hoc treasury bills and the RBI would use them and give money to the government.


So, essentially nothing else but printing currency notes.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (8:25 – 8:26)

What the US is doing right now.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (8:26 – 10:05)

Yeah, exactly. So, now Manmohan Singh decided to impose this restraint on his own government. He said, no, this is not good.


So, he mooted it. He introduced the idea and then his successor Chidambaram implemented it in 1997. So, I think that era has seen these huge reforms.


But at the same time, that era also saw a big stock market scandal. Yeah. In which the finance minister Manmohan Singh, the iconic finance minister, went through real tough troubling times.


He was called by the Securities Committee, that inquiry committee, the joint parliamentary committee that looked into the securities scam. It found that the finance minister was sleeping and he was deeply aggrieved. He had put in his papers and Narasimha Rao was not in a position to accept that.


He sat on that paper and would not respond to Manmohan Singh. But Manmohan Singh had stopped going to his office. And then one day the Prime Minister went to Parliament.


After that debate, he announced that Manmohan Singh was not guilty. He has not made any money or anything on this. And I have told him that he should continue as the finance minister of the country.


And that’s how the controversy ended. So, Manmohan Singh was truly a finance minister who changed India, changed the Indian economy. And at the same time, he faced a lot of controversies also.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (10:07 – 10:16)

And can you tell us more, as you mentioned in your book, about this scandal? Like what happened and how did Manmohan Singh get involved in it?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (10:16 – 14:21)

Well, Manmohan Singh was not involved. It was under the watch of Manmohan Singh, the finance minister, that stock market operators led by Harshad Mehta, used the banking system to raise loans against what is called the banker’s receipts and play the stock market. So, what was happening was the stock market was bullish.


The stock prices were going up. But the fueling of the stock market was largely because of these stock market operators using the banking sector money to buy up stocks. The mistake of the finance minister was to have made a statement in parliament that a finance minister cannot lose his sleep just because the stock market price is going up or going down.


He did ask his officers, and asked SEBI to look into the causes of this sharp spike. But he did not follow up adequately enough. And simultaneously what happened was when the security scam came out, the stock markets fell, there was this allegation by Harshad Mehta that he had given money, one crore rupees in a suitcase to the prime minister at his residence.


Now, it was an allegation that was made by Harshad Mehta. So, it became a political controversy. It was an economic controversy.


And Manmohan Singh’s failure was not to have anticipated it, not to have taken adequate steps in preventing that scam, instead probably letting it continue for a while. So, I think he was found wanting in the role of a finance minister in addressing the queries. But there was no need for him to resign because personally he was absolutely clean, he was honest.


But the argument was that even if a scam takes place under your charge, the finance minister should be morally responsible. So, that was why there was this demand that Manmohan Singh should quit. There were instances cited and which I have referred to in my first volume about T.T. Krishnamachari, another finance minister who had apparently allowed Life Insurance Corporation’s money to be loaned to a stock market operator called Haridas Mundra so that he could shore up his stock prices. Now, even then there was a committee that was set up, the Chagla Commission was set up. The Chagla Commission found that the finance minister was not guilty of making money, but he cannot be fully exonerated because of responsibility. So, at that time Nehru accepted T.T. Krishnamachari’s resignation. In this case, when Manmohan Singh put in his papers after the JPC report, Narasimha Rao did not accept the resignation. So, that’s the difference. Of course, critics would say that Manmohan Singh should not have continued beyond that.


But I think at that point in time, as long as there was no clear proof of his having done something malafide, I don’t think there should have been any reason to believe that he should quit.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (14:21 – 14:33)

And coming back to this, you know, the LIC scam that happened earlier, there was once a finance secretary that you mentioned in your book that had to bear the brunt. Yes. And then he took his revenge 20 years later.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (14:33 – 16:49)

Well, you know, you are right. You know, it seems that you have read the book. You know, H.M. Patel was the finance secretary at that time. And T.T. Krishnamachari’s fault, I would say, was that he let his finance secretary face the heat. He named him. He named him.


Yeah, he named him. So, as a result, H.M. Patel had to go through a commission of inquiry. And finally, the Vivian Bose committee finally exonerated him.


But that was much after his entire career as a civil servant came to a very abrupt end. So, H.M. Patel became a politician later. He joined the Satyendra party.


And then in 1977, when the Janata party came to power, he from Banaskantha, I think, H.M. Patel won his election. And who did Moraji Desai make his finance minister? He made H.M. Patel the finance minister. And he walked into the same room from where he was banished, sat as the finance secretary. So, it’s ironic that H.M. Patel did. And then, you know, there are very, very interesting anecdotes.


H.M. Patel presided over, you know, independent India’s first demonetization as a finance minister. He did not agree with the idea of demonetizing those currencies. But the prime minister said, Moraji Desai, nothing doing.


He went ahead and did it. So, as a finance minister, he carried out his orders. Maybe somewhat like what Mr. Modi’s demonetization decision was in 2016, where the finance minister may not have fully agreed. But it was the prime minister’s order. So, which is why I come back to my original theme that the prime minister and the finance minister work in tandem. And this equation between the finance minister and the prime minister is something that needs to be examined in close quarters and detail.


If you want to understand the political economy and its progress and trajectory in India.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (16:49 – 16:59)

So, can you tell us more about the interesting, first demonetization of India? And how did our government, when it was implemented a second time, learn from the first one?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (16:59 – 19:21)

Well, there are a lot of differences between the two. The first demonetization, when Moraji Desai got it done, was a demonetization that was not done through an executive order. Demonetization can be done also through an executive order.


Now, at that time, Moraji Desai felt that high value currencies, I think it was 5000 rupees, needed to be demonetized because a lot of black money, he believed, was being generated because of the use of 5000. But remember 5000 rupee note was a very small portion of the total currency in circulation at that time. Very, very small.


But in spite of that, Muraji Desai and H M Patel decided to go the parliamentary route. They decided to issue an ordinance in consultation with the RBI. And then they used the RBI act to issue an ordinance.


And then the ordinance became law. Ordinance because it had to happen one midnight. There was not much, what should I say, there was no disruption of that sort.


Because it was a very small portion of the total money in circulation. Now, what happened in 2016, there were two differences. One was that it was not through an ordinance.


It was through the RBI’s own power. Its board met. And there the board had to receive a note from the finance ministry saying that this is what needs to be done.


And then the board met and decided on going ahead with demonetizing the 1000 rupee and 500 rupee notes. Which accounted for more than 86% of the total currency in circulation. So, it was a huge thing.


So, there are two big differences. One was a very small share in the currency in circulation. And it was done through the legislative route.


So, there was far less controversy. Because it was done through parliament. And this one was one, it was 86% of the total currency in circulation.


So, the disruption was very much huge. And it was done through an RBI board decision.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (19:23 – 19:39)

I want to come to one other interesting story that you mentioned in your book. During Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, between two tenures, he had more than four finance ministers.




And he himself took over the finance ministry in 1987. Tell us more about that.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (19:39 – 27:12)

Well, you know, that’s a very unfortunate era. You know, that’s, you know, Rajiv Gandhi began very well. As a man who, the only party who got 400 plus seats in the Lok Sabha in 1984.


Of course, Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination had given him that edge. In the sense that there was a sympathy wave working in favor of Congress and Rajiv Gandhi. And he also had promised a clean government that he would attack the brokers and the power brokers in the system and all that.


So, he was Mr. Clean. That was his reputation. So, but V.P. Singh was his finance minister. He accepted the logic of the prime minister that you must be clean and you must bring in, you know, honest dealings and everything. He also, of course, was a politician at heart. So, what V.P. Singh did as he used his powers as a finance minister to introduce a lot of, I would say, coercive measures to discipline earning businessmen. So, there was what is called a raid Raj. He started raiding businessmen. He even arrested well-known industrialists like S.L. Kirloskar. So, it caused a lot of damage to industry’s confidence in the government. There were also powerful industry leaders, you know, there was Dhirubhai Ambani at that time who also came under attack from Mr. V.P. Singh. So, he built his bridges with Rajiv Gandhi.


So, V.P. Singh, in spite of having done a wonderful stint as a finance minister, having introduced the famous long-term fiscal policy, introduced the first step that led to the goods and services tax in 2017, was done by V.P. Singh by introduction of ModVac, modified value-added tax. So, V.P. Singh, as a finance minister, introduced many good things, but the raid Raj created a lot of problems. And then Rajiv Gandhi could not take that anymore and he decided to remove him.


And remove him when? Remove him less than four weeks before the budget presentation. One fine morning, V.P. Singh was called by Rajiv Gandhi saying that, you know, there is a border skirmish going on and I want you to be the defense minister. Okay. So, who was the defense minister at that time? Rajiv Gandhi himself.


Yeah. So, V.P. Singh must have wondered that, you know, who is a better defense minister to take charge of the situation than the prime minister himself. So, clearly, it was politically motivated.


So, he was shifted to the defense ministry and Rajiv Gandhi himself became the finance minister. Broadly, the budget that he presented was prepared by V.P. Singh. But he left finance ministry Rajiv Gandhi by, I think, July or August and that year, that is 1986.


But then the Bofors controversy erupted. He was under attack. V.P. Singh decided to quit the government and started his own party. There were a lot of problems in the Congress party at that time. So, Rajiv Gandhi decided to get, year after, one year after, got different ministers. And they were all ministers, finance ministers, who would be very forgettable finance ministers.


That is a phrase I can use with them. Now, you have N.D. Tiwari, who came and became famous for giving tax relief for Bindis. You know, rural women use Bindis.


So, he gave tax relief to them. So, a very socialistic bent of mind. So, from V.P. Singh’s, you know, forward-looking reformist budgets, N.D. Tiwari’s budget was a very socialist budget. Then came S.B. Chavan. He is also. But what had happened then was that while the investments had to be kept going, the finance minister started borrowing money.


So, the borrowing that went on after V.P. Singh’s departure to keep the investments going. So, the government’s borrowing debt levels began rising. And because of the oil prices going up and our exports not doing that well, imports rising, our balance of payments problem got worse.


So, that is what drove us to the crisis of late 1989. So, when again V.P. Singh came back as the prime minister and was done with the finance minister, they were not really up to the task of managing the situation. They went for the IMF loan.


They could not get a proper IMF loan. They got a gold tranche loan of a very small amount. And the IMF told them very clearly, imagine the situation.


They tell the Indian government that, listen, you have a stable government. If the stable government can give us the confidence, can give us the confidence that they will implement reforms, then I will be able to give you loans. So, even the V.P. The Singh government fell. Who came? Chandrashekhar came. There was another finance minister who brought in Yashwant Sinha.


Good finance minister. He made a lot of good promises in his interim budget of disinvestment, privatization. But then that was an interim budget.


That government too fell. Elections were called. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated.


So, you know, you can see how politics became also fragile. So, because of that, to a great extent, the Congress could amass the largest number of seats. But it was not a majority party.

And then Manmohan Singh became the finance minister. Narasimha Rao was the prime minister. But remember, those hundred days of major decision making to build the Indian economy out of those twin challenges, which is the balance of payments and the fiscal indiscipline.


Both Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were not elected to parliament at that time. They got elected to parliament only later in the year of 1991. But the crisis was such that nobody raised or made that an issue that, hey, you are implementing these decisions, but first get elected to parliament.


So, they used that provision in the law that for six months, you can be a minister. Narasimha Rao was a prime minister for six months without being elected. So, therefore, it is very important to recognize that when politics is fragile and the economy is in crisis, and if the government has made up its mind to take big and bold decisions, it can, it does, and it did.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (27:13 – 27:26)

And also wanted to talk about like just before the Rajiv Gandhi era, there was Sanjay Gandhi, right? When Indira Gandhi was in power. And Sanjay Gandhi, as you mentioned in the book, was very high-handed with the finance ministry.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (27:26 – 30:58)

Oh, yes. Absolutely. I think R Venkatraman was a very mild-mannered finance minister.


And Sanjay Gandhi was very powerful. But unfortunately for Mrs. Gandhi, unfortunately for R Venkatraman, Sanjay Gandhi met with an accident and died in June 1980. So, from 1980, his first budget and first few months, Venkatraman had a major tough time with Sanjay Gandhi’s intervention.


And he would often call for files and he would interfere in his functioning. So much so that Venkatraman was also the industry minister. And they were, industrial policy liberalization was being mooted.


But Sanjay Gandhi decided that Venkatraman was not listening to him. So, what he did was, he got hold of one of his cronies, Charanji Chanana, as the Minister of State for Industry, so that files could be cleared even though R Venkatraman, the industry minister, is not in favor of it. So, it was a very difficult time. But as I said, Sanjay Gandhi died in an accident and Venkatraman was relieved. But his relief was short-lived.


The balance of payment problem had begun at that time and India was forced to go in for at that time the largest loan given to any country. It was around over five billion dollars loan, you know. Now, why did India go for the loan?


Because India’s repayment capacity was under question. So, the international loan had to be repaid. So, when they wanted to go for the loan, the finance minister was not happy about it.


The finance minister did not even moot the idea. It was the idea mooted by India’s representative in the World Bank, M. Narasimha, former RBI governor.


He mooted the idea. He came and he met not the finance minister but the prime minister Indira Gandhi and Indira Gandhi said, if you think that we need the IMF loan, why don’t you draft a note for me? So, Narasimha drafted a note and left it with the prime minister and when Narasimha came back to India later, he found the same note was endorsed and sent by the finance minister.


In other words, what I am saying is that the story is getting repeated. That it is the prime ministers who take very very important calls and the finance ministers implement them and the equation between the finance minister and the prime minister are very very important. I mean, whether it is a question of setting up the planning commission or whether it is a question of taking an IMF loan or whether it is a question of deciding to devalue currency.


The equation between the prime minister and the finance minister is very important.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (30:58 – 31:09)

And you would consider the 1991 team, right, which was PV Narasimha Rao, Mr. Manmohan Singh and then extended team of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Shankar Acharya, S.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (31:09 – 31:14)

  1. Rangarajan as the deputy governor.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (31:15 – 31:16)

To be the best team ever India had?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (31:16 – 31:50)

I think at that time it was a matter of I think sheer good luck also. You had such an integrated team that everybody was chipping in with his or her thinking and Montek Singh Ahluwalia played the role of persuading people with his gentle, you know, human relations skills and things happened.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (31:50 – 31:59)

I think also what had happened is that several NRIs during that time like for example Sam Pitroda, had become powerful enough to contribute back.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (31:59 – 33:23)

Absolutely, absolutely. There was, you know, the first budget of Manmohan Singh, there was a scheme by which you could actually get NRI money into the country. I mean, you know, many governments have tried to tap NRIs, like even the current government does that.


Manmohan Singh was probably the second finance minister to have NRI. The first one was Pranab Mukherjee and he landed in trouble. You will remember the Swaraj, Paul and Escort’s takeover battle.


That was the first time that a finance minister tried to get NRIs into the country and he allowed NRIs to acquire shares in Indian companies without any limit. So when the takeover issue had blown up, the government had to beat a hasty retreat and they imposed a cap of NRI investments through portfolio investments up to 5% or something like that. That was the first time.


The second time Manmohan Singh got not the share transaction rate but got the NRI deposits. NRIs could really put money into Indian bonds. That was allowed and then again Yashwant Sinha did it again in 1999.


Again he tapped the NRIs. So, I think NRIs are also a recurrent theme in India’s budgets and India’s finance ministers. The way they have dealt with them.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (33:26 – 34:01)

So, let’s say that the goal of this conversation is one to reflect back and learn and the counterpart countries of India like Singapore, China, they never let momentum go in the last 70, roughly 40 years from 1970s or 80s I would say but India has almost every five to six years stopped in this momentum. Why was that so that India could never have momentum for at least a decade or two?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (34:01 – 37:05)

Well, you know, I think one reason could be that we are a democracy, a very functioning democracy and when people are unhappy, powerful segments among the voters are unhappy, then there is a pushback. So, it’s a function of the government also to enlighten, to make people aware of the benefits or the short-term pains and the long-term gains of any economic reforms. You take a look at even the Narendra Modi government.


Now, it did try to reform land laws, it did try to reform the labor laws, land reform laws were withdrawn, labor laws have been passed but not to be notified yet. The farm sector laws, they were very reform-oriented laws but they had to be rolled back. Now, why?


Because of the pushback and the fear of the political capital of the party being undermined. Now, it is important that we keep the momentum on growth intact but along with that, we also have to keep the reforms momentum intact. Because if you don’t keep the reforms momentum intact, then how do you make sure investments keep taking place?


How do you make sure that now, for example, right now we are talking about judicial reform so that the decision-making process is easier. The BJP’s manifesto talks about judicial reforms, e-courts and everything. Now, the question is if this faces resistance from the vested interests.


For example, there will be many lawyers, they may not like it. For example, many people may not like it. So, if they face resistance, I would say that our growth momentum may take a hit.


So, it is a very tough journey. So, what happened in the 1990s was that because the governments were coalition governments, they were not strong governments. So, they could probably experiment with many economic reforms but from the 2000s onwards, governments have been 10-year.


When the UPA was 10 years, then NDA was already completed another 10 years. So, in such a situation, risk-taking probably takes a back seat and I think that while it is good for the polity, the democracy is but it is not always necessarily good for the economy.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (37:05 – 37:24)

But how do you, let’s say, now the challenge for our listeners is that why can’t you, in theory at least, decouple economic reforms with what I would say are things that will get you back into power.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (37:24 – 40:06)

Yes. Well, You know, it is impossible. I mean, if you want to be Singapore, you can do that. But the choice is that if you become Singapore, then you will lose your democratic environment.


You will lose democracy as an important thing. I mean, Singapore is a democracy but it is a different kind of democracy. It is not like the Indian.


Indian democracy is chaotic but yet it is a very lively functioning democracy, I would say even now. So, it is important to take that call that probably democracy has its own costs. I would say if you want to delink the pace of economic reforms from politics, the two critical elements which any government should pay attention to and your viewers should probably take note of is that come what may that education and health, they must be taken care of by any government that comes to power adequately so that we have healthy, nutritionally rich individuals growing up to be healthy citizens of this country. Number one.


Number two is that you should have access to world-class education by which you become a graduate and also become employable. And there is a big difference between being a graduate and being employable. So, if we could take care of these two elements, health and education, then I would say that we will reach a point where economic reforms will not be that big a stumbling block in our road to political democratic journey.


And that is something which we all should recognize that we should not give up our democratic path, journey towards democracy, because that is something that we have earned very hard. But at the same time, we should not, we cannot be a victim of the kind of disruption that you’re talking about, the kind of, you know, you become a prisoner, you know, in the hands of politics. So, to prevent that, I would say focus has to come back on health and education so that people can sustain their growth and then automatically the urge for reforms is expedited.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (40:06 – 41:17)

One area I would like to touch on the same note is, the 90 or 80% of the economy is made up of the top 20% people and Pareto’s principle goes more hand in hand, 2% of the people would hold like 95% of the wealth. And India’s history with taxation has been, you know, a bit chaotic. Right.


So, what has continuously happened is, earlier the most rich global businessmen, for example, Lakshmi Nivas Mittal and other, right, Anil Agarwal, they would move outside India, better conditions for living, better lifestyle, but also better taxation. Right. And still today, there are more countries getting developed, for example, the entire Middle East, right.


They have become a haven for taxation for the rich. Right. Singapore has always been a haven.


So, India has been losing the top capitalists to these countries. Right. So, I just want to…


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (41:17 – 42:51)

Well, you know, it’s a very important area that we have mentioned is a cause for concern. And I think, you know, the answer to that question, the answer to that problem, that if you want to solve that problem, will have to be that you have to take care of your domestic indigenous human resources. And how do you make sure that the riches don’t belong to the top 20%?


And the only way to make sure that it does not get concentrated like this is to enable ordinary citizens, ordinary Indians to have the best access to health and education, which will make them not in this maybe generation, but the next generation will be able to be aspire for to become what you said, another Alain Mittal or another, you know, Mukesh Ambani or another industrialist. So, I think the key element is how do you strengthen the resources, the human resources by beefing up the health and education system. If that happens, I would say that this inequity or unequitable growth that you referred to probably can be handled over a period of maybe 20 years or so.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (42:51 – 43:55)

I’ll give you a small example before we further dive into more of, you know, our policymaking. The recent generation of Indian billionaires who come from lower middle class include, let’s say, Flipkart founders, Sachin Bansal and Benny Bansal. Now, you can’t hold a billionaire by force in a country where you can’t give up your citizenship or you can’t give up, you can’t move your money.


That’s against democracy and that is against capitalism also, like free flow of capital. But India lost one of them to Singapore, like Benny Bansal moved to Singapore. And similarly, you know, we have seen many Indian entrepreneurs at the time of exit moved to Dubai or Singapore.


What could have, and you mentioned the other part of it, creating health and education. What could the Indian government have done to have incentivized them to be here rather than held them by force?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (43:55 – 44:06)

Well, you know, I will tell you, I agree that such talents should not ideally be allowed to go out of the country.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (44:06 – 44:08)

You can’t force them.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (44:09 – 45:16)

But you can’t force them either. You have to be a believer in market forces. Now, if they have gone back, it is not gone out, does not necessarily mean they are gone out forever.


They could well be not a brain drain, but they well could be the brain reserve. So, if you can improve the conditions here, a little more attractive, if you can make the taxation system, the overall ease of doing business better, if you can improve the judiciary better in terms of early decisions, and if you can create greater confidence in the system’s ability to deliver both on health as well as education and on justice system, then I would say that there is no reason why Mr. Binny Bansal will not like to come back. The important challenge here is not to give up on the path of democracy, not on the path of free enterprise.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (45:17 – 45:26)

So, now I want to talk about the Reserve Bank of India, such an important institution. So, what is the role of the First Reserve Bank of India for our listeners?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (45:26 – 49:03)

Well, you know, the Reserve Bank of India is in charge of the Indian currency. The Reserve Bank of India is in charge of banks. A lot of people look at Reserve Bank of India only as the banker’s bank, but it is also an agency, the institution, independent agency that determines the government’s credit allocation policy once upon a time and now the monetary policy.


And since 2016, the Reserve Bank of India is also looking at how inflation can be targeted to stay at 4% retail inflation, so that people do not go through the travails of higher prices. A very important institution. It has a history of 90 years.


It was set up by the British. The first RBI governor, Indian RBI governor was C.D. Deshmukh, who also happened to be India’s third finance minister. Over the years, however, there has been this debate that is RBI truly independent of the government or is it an extension of the government.


Now, the way we have seen RBI function vis-a-vis various Indian finance ministers as captured in the first volume as well as the second volume of India’s finance ministers, it shows that yes, on paper, RBI is an independent institution, a regulatory body, but it is not really autonomous. The best way which describes its independence is that the RBI governor or the RBI is independent and autonomous and it has the independence and the autonomy to say so from the government side. In a sense, the government says that you are independent and autonomous, but the government has to say it.


Now, we have seen how the government reacts to an RBI governor who shows signs of independence. There was this RBI governor who felt that the government’s policies have played around and tinkered with the RBI’s interest rate policies. Now, at that time, the finance minister was T.T. Krishnamachari and the RBI governor was the longest serving governor. So, T.T. Krishnamachari, who was the finance minister, had taken a decision on bond prices in a manner that tinkered with the RBI’s interest rate policy. So, the governor at that time was Sir Benegal Rama Rao. He was not very happy with it and he made his displeasure and difference of opinion quite obvious also because he felt that he was not consulted on this.


Unfortunately, this led to a major difference of opinion and a kind of a fight between the finance minister and Sir Benegal Rama Rao.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (49:03 – 49:03)

This was in which year, Sir?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (49:04 – 50:54)


This was in 1956-57. Now, what happened was since T.T. Krishnamachari called the RBI governor and according to the economic affairs secretary at that time, his account, the finance minister actually reprimanded the RBI governor and the RBI governor obviously felt humiliated and he went back to Bombay and held the central bank’s governance meeting and got a resolution adopted which questioned and expressed its displeasure over the way government has gone about this job and got that sent to the finance ministry. Now, T.T. Krishnamachari approached his prime minister and you would have you would imagine that the prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru would take the side of an independent institution but he actually took the side of the finance minister. Because Nehru has been autocratic. Exactly. So, what he did was he told the governor and said that you may be thinking that you are an autonomous institution but remember you are an extension of the government, you are an arm of the government and therefore, what you did by these resolutions and all that is not proper and upon which Sir Benegal Rama Rao decided to quit.


Now, he is still today the longest serving RBI governor. Now, that was the first.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (50:54 – 50:55)


And How long?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (50:55 – 51:20)


It was almost seven years, seven months or so. So, that was the longest serving governor. So, therefore, those of us who still have this belief that the RBI and the RBI governor are completely autonomous and independent should take a look at this incident involving Sir Benegal Rama Rao, finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (51:21 – 51:32)

There’s another interesting story that you covered in the book, right? How an RBI governor who was, you know, not qualified to be an RBI governor, he was head of LIC, was bought in and then two years later removed.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (51:33 – 52:08)

Absolutely, you are right. This is another story which I have there in HM Patel’s chapter when he was the finance minister. One of the first things that the finance minister told his banking secretary is that what I want is for the RBI governor to resign. Please remember that, you know, K.R. Puri was brought in by forcing the previous governor, Mr. Jagannathan, who actually decided to advance his departure and joined the IMF. So, K.R. Puri was brought in because…


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (52:08 – 52:10)

Brought in by whom?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (52:10 – 52:20)

Brought in by Mrs. Gandhi’s government during emergency time. This was the emergency year and one of the first things that K. R.Puri did was to approve a loan for Sanjay Gandhi’s Maruti project.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (52:21 – 52:25)

Yeah. So, it was Sanjay Gandhi who brought in Maruti?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (52:25 – 52:32)

Absolutely. The creator of Maruti was Sanjay Gandhi’s idea of a small car project.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (52:33 – 52:34)

Tell us more about that.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (52:35 – 53:04)

Well, you know Sanjay Gandhi was a person who took great interest in the automotive industry and even he had gone to London to understand mechanical engineering and the automotive sector and then he came back. He wanted to set up a car company. He did start the Maruti project but didn’t move very much.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:05 – 53:07)

But Maruti was not his ownership, right?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:08 – 53:10)

It was his ownership. It was a private company.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:10 – 53:10)



[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:11 – 53:27)

So, it was set up by him. It was owned by him. Yeah, owned by him.


Yeah, absolutely. And then he got loans from banks. RBI changed the norms.


The K. R. Puri was the governor.


He changed the banking regulation norms so that the Maruti gets the loan.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:27 – 53:29)

And how did the Suzuki partnership happen at the same time?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:29 – 53:36)

This happened much later. So, when Sanjay Gandhi died in 1980, this project was fatherless.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:36 – 53:38)


And the company was also fatherless.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:38 – 53:39)

The company was also fatherless.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:39 – 53:51)

He was essentially the CEO of the company. So, when the company was without anybody to look after, Mrs. Gandhi decided that she wanted this company to survive.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:51 – 53:51)



[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:52 – 53:55)

And so, she wanted to set it up in the public sector.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (53:55 – 53:56)



[A.K. Bhattacharya] (53:56 – 57:01)

So, she called some of our important professional managers. V. Krishnamurti was called in and he was given the responsibility to set up. V. Krishnamurti was then the BHEL man. So, he was given the responsibility to set up this Maruti project in the public sector in foreign collaboration to produce a small car.


So, then it was set up in the public sector with a 26% equity stake from Suzuki with a condition that in five years Suzuki can raise its stake to 40%. And that’s how Maruti Udyog Limited, it was called then. Maruti Udyog Limited, MUL, those days.


Now, of course, Suzuki is the majority owner. It’s called Maruti Suzuki. So, that’s how it happened.


Now, coming back to the RBI thing. So, when K. R.Puri saw that there’s a new regime, Mr. Rajiv Desai was the prime minister and H. M. Patel was the finance minister.


He was called to Delhi, but he would not come to Delhi. Finally, the finance minister had to call him to Delhi and tell him that you bring your resignation letter along with it. So, H.M. Patel, K. R. Puri comes to Delhi very reluctantly, resigns and already, Moraji Desai has chosen his successor, a man called I. G. Patel.


Now, I. G. Patel at that time was with the UN body and he did not want to come immediately because he would have lost his pension if he didn’t complete a certain five years.


So, he wanted more time. So, they had a stopgap arrangement in the banking sector. Intermediary for seven months.


Seven months. So, M. Narasimham came in and he became the RBI governor.


  1. G. Patel came in, but he also had his problem with Moraji Desai because Moraji Desai was saying that don’t take R. K. Hazari as a man, as your deputy and all that. But I.G. Patel said nothing doing, I will keep him and I. G.Patel actually told Moraji Desai that if you think that I am not the right person, you have an opinion, I have not yet become the RBI governor. But Moraji Desai did not press the issue. So, the differences of opinion were there.


Then there was Manmohan Singh who was the economic affairs secretary and those days the RBI governor would come and brief the government and the finance ministry about what kind of policies they are taking. In one such case, the RBI governor could not make it. So, Manmohan Singh actually, as economic affairs secretary, actually told the RBI in no uncertain terms that you should always make sure that what you intend to do must be communicated to the government in writing.


Don’t take it lightly. So, the finance ministry’s relationship with the RBI has always been a little stressed. Then you come to later years.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (57:01 – 57:02)

Raghuram Rajan’s case.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (57:02 – 59:08)

Yes, of course. Raghuram Rajan was appointed by the UPA government at a time when there was a global economic crisis there. He managed the situation well.


But I think their relationship with the Narendra Modi government was strained. To be fair, Raghuram Rajan made some comments about government policies which probably were not brief. In the sense that the RBI governor should stay on his own and he did not do that.


He talked about the government’s industrial policy. He also made some casual comments like India being a one-eyed giant. So, these were not liked by the government.


And when most probably when Raghuram Rajan got to know that the government is very keen on the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes. He agreed to let that process continue because the process of demonetization was for about six months, but he decided to quit in June and left it. 2016. He left in September. So his successor, Urjit Patel came, he had to carry the load of demonetization.


So he did that, but even he fell out with the government because he wanted the public sector governance norms to be changed so that the RBI can monitor and regulate the public sector banks adequately. So there are differences of opinion. So he also had to quit suddenly.


So the point I’m making is this, whether it is this government or the previous governments, whether it is the Moraji Desai government or it’s the Nehru government, the tensions and stressful relations between the RBI and RBI governor and the finance ministry and the prime minister and the thing is a story that is an ongoing saga.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (59:08 – 59:10)

And what about the current governor?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (59:10 – 1:00:03)

The current governor, remember, is a former IAS officer. He has worked in the finance ministry, as an economic affairs secretary in the finance ministry and a trusted man. So he enjoys the trust of the government and the equations so far are good.


But even then, even now, there are occasions where the RBI governor would talk about how cryptocurrency is something that you should not touch with a barge pole, whereas the government on occasions have given a signal that probably cryptocurrencies are not that something that need to manage them well. So there are but there are no major issues of discomfort or difference of opinion with this governor and the Narendra Modi government.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:00:03 – 1:00:17)

So we are ending towards the last 10 minutes of the podcast. I want to touch specifically upon P. Chidambaram as a finance minister and then Pranam Mukherjee, right?


How are they? What are the reforms they brought?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:00:18 – 1:02:39)

Well, you know, P. Chidambaram had had two stints, not two, actually three stints. One was from 1996 to 1998.


That stint was marked at one level, the way he implemented the reforms agenda, particularly on the insurance sector, particularly with regard to the government’s dismantling of the ad hoc treasury bill system and custom duty being brought down. So I think he did it fairly well. At that time, it was a United Front government.


And his second stint, P. Chidambaram’s second stint, which will be featured in my third volume. He was from 2004 to 2008.


And he has implemented the same reforms without any deviation of norm. But it’s a fact that apart from reducing tariffs, keeping them stable, and apart from maintaining a direct tax rate and excise rates, what he failed to get was, he could not get the kind of consensus building on GST. He did not. But his implementation of the state value-added tax was very, very efficient.


So it’s a mixed picture. Then when he came back for his third stint from 2013 to 2014, 2012 to 2014, he had a major challenge to deal with. The economy was in a crisis in the sense that because of the global financial crisis, the taper tantrum in the US and everything was affecting India.


Once again, he brought in his own team and implemented and managed the economy quite competently. So Chidambaram is an efficient administrator. And there was stability.


And he managed it quite competently.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:02:40 – 1:02:41)


And what about Pranam Mukherjee?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:02:42 – 1:04:00)

Pranam Mukherjee’s stint is better known.


His first stint was under Mrs. Gandhi. He’s the only finance minister who has hit a long gap between two surface states. His first stint was from 1982 to 84.


And the second stint starts, believe it or not, in 2009. So it’s a huge gap. Twenty-five-year gap. But in the first stint, he had to defend India’s taking the IMF loan.


He got into a controversy over NRI controversy by bringing in Swaraj Paul to invest as a major controversy. Something similar happened in his second stint also. He introduced the so-called Vodafone tax, over which the succeeding years have been spent.


And even now, India faces a lack of confidence in the foreign investor because of that retrospective taxation. But by and large, Mr. Mukherjee reintroduced many of the discretionary policies, not completely, completely rewriting the laws. But he brought in a lot of things that the Congress is known for, which is slightly a tinge of socialism there.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:04:01 – 1:04:12)

And sir, what’s your view, right? That since you touched upon, you know, Vodafone, our telecom has been a duopoly. Earlier, it was…


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:04:12 – 1:04:52)

It has become a duopoly, which is a very sad thing, because there’s not the idea of a reform. And this is something that should have been handled well. And I would say that even now, we are, even though the government has now taken a stake in Vodafone, we don’t see, there are some signs of Vodafone getting raising resources in the market.


It’s very important for a competitive market to operate and function. It should not be reduced to a duopoly. So we only hope that policies are geared to maintaining a competitive environment in the market.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:04:52 – 1:05:13)

Yeah. And I don’t know whether it’s a bad thing or a good thing. But because of low tariffs, such a large institution and so many retrospective taxes coming on Vodafone, it will not give foreign companies confidence that, hey, we can build a large company in India.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:05:13 – 1:05:38)

I couldn’t agree with you more that, you know, the regulator or the government should not be in the business of choosing the winners. There is a sense outside probably, that in the last several years, that if you want to do business in India, you need to be the chosen few. The national champion phenomenon.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:05:38 – 1:05:43)

Which was what the government tried to do to dismantle it.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:05:43 – 1:06:31)

So the national champion phenomenon does not inspire confidence among foreign investors to come in. So you need to have a kind of collaborator here who would be a national champion here. And I don’t think if you are looking at strategic sectors, if you’re looking at a few sectors where you want to be a global champion and for over a period of certain time, probably it is acceptable.


But in a sector like telecom services, there is no need to have that national champion philosophy. You need to open up the space to anybody who has financial muscle and marketing access.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:06:31 – 1:06:37)

How would you rate the last 10 years of finance on various parameters?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:06:37 – 1:08:58)

I think you have to look at it in the first five years. I would say that in the era of reforms, you had the GST, you had the insolvency and bankruptcy code in 2016. Even if you had the real estate regulatory authority.


You had by and large a resolution of the Vodafone tax crisis. So I would say taxation tax rates are being rationalized. So that is the era of things.


The second phase began very promisingly with reduction in corporation tax rate and new direct taxes regime. But unfortunately, COVID came in and COVID was a century, one in a century kind of a crisis. But I would say that the finance ministry handled the COVID crisis very competently and did not use government resources far too excessively to destroy the fiscal balance of the economy of the government.


So you have handled the economy well. You have kept the fiscal deficit, even though it is slightly wide, you have kept the fiscal deficit under control. Growth has been purely investment led.


Probably now that the COVID is behind us, the finance ministry now will have to go back to a new phase of factor market reforms, many other reforms that are waiting to be done. GST too is waiting to be implemented because GST is right now in a state where you have got multiple rates. Your petrol and diesel is not part of it.


You have a compensation which has to be discontinued. So there is so much to be done in GST to make it an effective revenue neutral rate that has to go up. So there are a lot of things.


But I would say that because of the COVID for three years, the finance ministry was deep into this crisis and it managed it well. And now is the time to get back.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:08:58 – 1:09:00)

And you did not print money like the US?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:09:01 – 1:09:15)

Absolutely. So you kept the FISC under control. So for your fiscal deficit, it did go up to 9% one year, but it didn’t bring down to 5.8% in the last financial year.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:09:15 – 1:09:24)

And as you interact with more foreign investors, do you see the confidence is increasing right now or is the same?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:09:24 – 1:09:57)

I think the confidence is increasing because India is probably the only bright spot. But along with the rise in confidence, there is also expectation that India will address its basic bureaucratic judicial ease of doing business and employable youth. We are producing a large number of graduates, but many of them are not employable.


So that’s very important.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:09:57 – 1:10:02)

I think it’s a unique case study in itself because we can’t copy China or we can’t copy any other.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:10:02 – 1:10:15)

It has to be, you know, in that sense, I would say that we have to strike a new path, which is probably a mix of manufacturing and high end manufacturing led services.

[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:10:16 – 1:10:36)

And one area too, you know, I would like to summarize this, that in the initial 1950s, when we started measuring our GDP, we were subscribed to Hindu rate of growth, which was 3.5% by P.C. Manalobis. Yes, I think it was Mr. Rajkrishna. And it was Mr. Manmohan Singh who said, this is not okay. You need to grow at 7 to 8%.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:10:36 – 1:10:37)


That’s right. That’s right.




[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:10:38 – 1:10:39)

Then our aspirations have changed.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:10:39 – 1:10:59)

Yes, absolutely. I think it is good to be aspirational. It is good to set targets.


But along with setting targets, you need to take those necessary steps to strengthen the infrastructure, to reform the processes, reform the policies, so that those targets can become achievable.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:11:00 – 1:11:07)

And recently, the 7 to 8% growth is there, but it’s also along with the inflation of 7 to 8%.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:11:07 – 1:11:10)

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:11:10 – 1:11:12)

Which is a bit alarming, but hopefully …


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:11:07 – 1:11:41)

Well, you know, I mean, my sense is that the growth that you are talking about is real growth.


So, it does not have an impact on inflation. So, yes, inflation rate needs to be kept under control. But this kind of if you are growing by 7, 7.5% growth rate, this is minus inflation. So, this is a real growth. But your point is valid that inflation needs to be kept under check.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:11:41 – 1:11:53)

And do you see because our aspiration is now to become, let’s say, a 30 to 40 trillion dollar economy over a decade or two. Is that possible for India?


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:11:53 – 1:11:55)

Well, you know, theoretically…


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:11:55 – 1:11:57)

Because you have seen the history over the last 45 years.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:11:57 – 1:12:34)

Yeah. Theoretically, why not? But it all depends on the manner in which you are growing, the manner in which you, how soon you reach the end of your demographic dividend, and how soon the dollar rupee exchange rate performed because this is a target set in dollar terms. So, I think it is a target that surely can be achievable, but which year?


I think this is a matter of time that we can say.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:12:34 – 1:12:35)

Thank you so much, sir.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:12:35 – 1:12:36)

Thank you very much.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:12:36 – 1:12:37)

It was such an enjoyable conversation.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:12:37 – 1:12:39)

Thank you.

Thank you very much for having me.


[Siddhartha Ahluwalia] (1:12:40 – 1:12:41)

It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you, sir.


[A.K. Bhattacharya] (1:12:42 – 1:12:43)

Thank you.


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