For those who are interested in current affairs of the country and economics, the starched- white shirt-dhoti clad, Finance Minister is no stranger.
Palaniappan Chidambaram was born on 16th September 1945, in Kandanur, in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu. He was from an affluent Chettiar family. He did his schooling from Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, Chennai. After B.Sc, he obtained B.L. Degree from Madras Law College and did MBA from Harvard University. He had established a successful law practice and even now takes up cases in Supreme Court and High Courts of India. But his choice was politics, in spite of family resistance. Today, his family, home town and country respect him for what he is. He is now regarded as a qualified and highly competent Finance Minister by the financial experts, investors, financial press and people across India. He is also the member of Planning Commission of India.
People with qualities and abilities will be recognized which was true in Chidambaram’s case. He was first elected to Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament) from his home Town, Sivaganga constituency in 1984 and this was his first post as a young well educated man. He was brought into government by the late PM Rajiv Gandhi. He held various portfolios. He was re-elected in general elections of 1989,1991,1996,1998 and 2004. In 1991, when congress came to power, Shri Man Mohan Singh was the then FM and Chidambaram was made the minister of state in the Ministry of Commerce till 1996. He made some radical changes in export-import policy, while at charge. In 1996. when coalition government (a combination of parties) came to power, Chidambaram was given the important cabinet post of Finance Minister. This put him in the front and he showed his competence and experience as a FM, carrying forward the economic reforms started in 1991 by then PM, P V Narasimha Rao. This factor led to his reappointment as FM when Dr. Manmohan Singh became the PM of country in 2004 after the elections.
As a fine FM he has come a long way, juggling money-tax rates cuts with growing tax collection figures imposing tax effective rates and managing government revenue with sharp words, actions and humors. As FM, some of his budgets have been popular showing him as liberal and reformer. He is remembered for his “dream budget” of 1997, which cut both taxes and tariffs-helping growth and giving a boost to the economy. Later, his policy of foreign direct investment also favored India. The present budget, 2008 announced, loan waiver (loan excused) for farmers and extra money to a long list of schemes-from school meals to road-building. He also presented a skill development mission in the budget-an initiative to teach information technology skill to local children. According to him, ‘Trade, commerce and education arc recipe for progress.” As a part of financial inclusion programme he has prompted banks to adopt villages and provide loans so that they are not left out
Even after being a busy FM, he has never neglected his constituency, Sivaganga-an agriculture town. He is very popular here and has been elected as Member of Parliament six times from here. He visits the place at least twice a month and takes assessment of schemes, their implementation, delivery of measures, and fulfillment of promises made to fanners, students and self-help groups. He holds meeting with the administration and the collector. He wanted farmers to be brought under the coverage of banks and keep away money lenders. So, around twenty banks have set up branches here, there are ATM vans, good roads and good education. Many children are availing the facility of educational loans and he is always encouraging education of girls. People of his constituency show firm faith in him as a politician and stand by him.
He is a simple, down-to-earth person married to Nalini Chidambaram, a well known advocate in Madras High Court and has a son, Karti Chidambaram. He is fond of sports and literature. He is an associate and trustee of Tamil Chintamani’-a literary foundation in Chennai. He is a good policy maker with a sharp mind and a politician doing the balancing act rightly. He is at ease with all work like addressing a gathering in TN, addressing the Financial Media in Mumbai and presenting India’s view at world economic forum or lectures at different universities.
P.Chidambaram, FM India, is a man of independent mind and determination, who has the willingness to connect with people and see India progress. Also, he is an inspiration to young educated people who want to do well for the country through responsible politics.