India’s Finance Ministers From Independence to Emergency (1947-1977) by A.K. Bhattacharya

This is the untold story of how India’s finance ministers in the first thirty years after Independence steered the economy through many decisions, igniting controversies and generating debates over the turns and twists in policies, which were on occasions guided by ideological shifts of the government’s overall approach.

Eleven finance ministers, including two prime ministers, presented 30 full Budgets from Independence in 1947 to the end of the Emergency in 1977. These Budgets and the many fiscal and economic policy decisions, unveiled by these finance ministers, have shaped the contours of India’s economic history in these thirty years. The book captures how these finance ministers were appointed and how they lost their jobs amidst controversies or political exigencies. In the process, the book presents the story of India’s major economic policy shifts, a major stock market scandal, the unceremonious exit of a well-regarded Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the failure of banks and= their eventual nationalization, the devaluation of the Indian currency, not once but twice in these three decades, and the tightening of curbs on foreign investments along with the imposition of laws to restrict the freedom of India Inc. 

A.K. Bhattacharya                           

What makes the book unique

1. Understanding of how finance ministers performed in thirty years after independence.

2. First analysis of money devaluation

3. Why did Nehru’s all 5 finance ministers quit?

4. Focus on some of the major economic developments like the setting up of the planning commission, the Mundhra scandal, bank nationalization, devaluation of the rupee, tightening of fear curbs and imposing fresh controls on industry.

5. How India’s finance ministers lost their jobs

6. The way prime ministers would deal with their finance ministers and would often take over their role.

7. The strained relations between finance ministers and the RBI

A.K. Bhattacharya