ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The 1991 Reforms

How Home-grown Were They?

Refuting the allegation that the 1991 reforms were thrust upon an unwilling government by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in return for financial assistance, it is argued instead that 1991 was the logical culmination of internal rethinking that took place well before the 1990 crisis. The reforms would have stopped within two years had they been only undertaken because of the need for the IMF's assistance. Though admittedly slowly, their continuation has been evident over successive governments.

The 25th anniversary of the 1991 reforms is an important occasion for reflection. There were reforms before 1991, but they were at best incremental, adding flexibility to the system without changing the system itself. It was in 1991 that an effort was made for the first time to change the system of economic management, which was devised in the 1950s and early 1960s, and had become quite unsuitable for the times.

The story of how the reforms were conceived and implemented, whether they were well designed and appropriately paced and sequenced, how the resistance to change was dealt with, and, most importantly, what went right and what did not, deserves to be explored in full detail. I am currently working on a book that hopes to do precisely that. This article deals with only one aspect of the story, and that is whether the reforms were home-grown or pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) onto a helpless government as the price for financial assistance.

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