The following is the acceptance speech of Dr Arvind Panagariya, the Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog on winning the first B. R Shenoy Award for Economics, presented to him at the India Ideas Conclave, 2015, in Goa.
Distinguished guests, I am deeply honored and humbled to be awarded this first B. R Shenoy Award for Economics. I am sorry I could not be there (physically present) but I am pleased that my son, whose belief in economics and the freedom of markets is even stronger than my own, is receiving this award on my behalf. B. R Shenoy or Bellikoth Raghunath Shenoy, advocated market at a time when nearly everyone else was rallying around socialism and planning.
Of course, these were ideas that lacked salience at the time and B. R Shenoy was summarily dismissed at the time. Later of course, we also had a major book come out from Jagdish Bhagawati and Padma Desai advocating in the Indian context once again the ideas of markets and that indeed was my first introduction in the Indian context to the power of the markets.
Like B. R Shenoy, of course Bhagawati and Desai were also rather mostly ignored but nevertheless you can ignore those who originate ideas but you cannot ignore the power of the ideas themselves. And the time of the free markets and the ideas that B. R Shenoy had espoused came in 1991 when the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao effectively dismantled the old socialist and planning system, replacing it – at least at that point had all been becoming of the markets – by dismantling the license permit-raj.
That process continued under Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee and indeed during the campaign of our current Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi the idea of markets assumed center stage. We had a very vibrant debate around two books of which I had co-authored one, ‘Why Growth Matters’ and from there on I think today in India markets are triumphing, and I am very pleased that the Swarajya Awards Committee have instituted this award and the timing just could not have been better and more appropriate since next year will be the 25th year of our reforms; and we should be celebrating the 25th anniversary of a process that was initiated by prime minister Narasimha Rao, and carried forward by Atal Bihari Vajapyee, and of course now we have it at the center stage by Shri Narendra Modi.
Once again my most sincere thanks to the Swarajya Awards Comittee and also to the India Foundation for making this possible. Thank you very much.