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Yashwant Sinha



For sheer breadth of experience, few in the political establishment can match Yashwant Sinha.

In the course of an eventful political career with the Bharatiya Janata Party, he has held two of the most visible – and coveted – ministerial positions, those of Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister.

But Sinha’s in-depth understanding of the challenges and compulsions of governance comes from a wholly different experience: that of 24 years as a civil servant in the prestigious Indian Administrative Services including Under-Secretary and Deputy Secretary roles in the ministry of finance in the Bihar government; as well as diplomatic postings including as India’s consul general in Frankfurt. Stints in the ministry of industry and the surface transport ministry followed, giving him hands-on grounding in the nitty-gritties of running the country.

That understanding of ground realities was tested more than once during his tenure as Finance Minister, when he had the challenging task of balancing his own reformist approach with the often populist decisions required to stay in power. He is credited for pushing through reformist measures including lower interest rates, freeing up the telecom sector, deregulating the petroleum industry and helping fund the National Highways Authority.

Disappointingly for Sinha, his contributions as a reformer have been significantly undervalued though in political circles, he is widely respected for taking hard decisions unflinchingly – he inherited an economy on the verge of a balance of payments crisis and did not hesitate to pledge gold reserves to tide things over – as well as taking responsibility when his integrity was called into question: he resigned at the whiff of an allegation that he was involved in a havala scandal and did not contest elections till cleared by the court.

One of the BJP’s senior-most leaders and a man respected on all sides of the political divide, Sinha has also written Confessions of a Swadeshi Reformer, an indepth look at his years in the finance ministry.

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