From the reassuring certitude of the five-year plans to the electrifying promise and reality of the Goods and Service Tax Act, the 70 years of independent India’s history have been defined by events that reveal a young nation in search of an appropriate development model.
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Mint looks at 70 such markers that have led to an ecosystem in which India can vie for global economic leadership.
1947: The Industrial Disputes Act, governing organized industrial labour, is passed.
1949: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), previously a shareholders’ bank, is nationalized.
1950: The Planning Commission, a central planning body, is set up.
1951: First Five-Year Plan, based on the Harrod-Domar Model of economic growth and focusing on the primary sector, is presented.
1951: The first Indian Institute of Technology is set up in Kharagpur.
The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
1953: Air India is nationalized.
1955:The Imperial Bank of India is nationalized to create the State Bank of India.
1956: Industrial Policy Resolution is passed by Parliament, marking the beginning of the Licence Raj.
1956: Second Five-Year Plan, based on the Feldman-Mahalanobis model and focusing on heavy industry, is presented.
1956:Life insurance is nationalized, and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) established.
1956: India’s first atomic reactor, Apsara, goes critical at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
1957: The decimal system of coinage is introduced.
1958: Dhirubhai Ambani establishes the Reliance Group as a trading house called Reliance Commercial Corporation.
1958: The first Hindustan Ambassador car is produced.
1959: The Rourkela Steel Plant is commissioned.
1961: Indian Institutes of Management are set up in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Ahmedabad.
1963: The Bhakra Nangal Dam becomes operational.
1965: Green Revolution.
1965: Daily TV programming begins.
1966: The Indian rupee is devalued following the Public Law 480 food aid programme as part of the Aid India Consortium at the World Bank.
1967: The first commercials are aired on Vividh Bharati.
1968: The Foreign Investment Board is established.
1969: 14 leading banks are nationalized.
1969: The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act becomes law.
1970: The Industrial Licensing Policy comes into force, confining the role of large business to core, heavy and export-oriented sectors.
1971: The collapse of the Bretton Woods system sees the rupee pegged to the pound sterling. This causes real depreciation and exports to grow at 15% in nominal terms over the following decade.
1972: General insurance is nationalized.
1973: Coal mines and oil companies are nationalized.
1973: The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act is passed.
1973: The longest rail service in India, from Mangalore to Delhi, is inaugurated.
1974: Oil struck in the first well at Sagar Samrat, off Bombay High.
1975: Aryabhatta, the first Indian satellite, is launched from the Soviet cosmodrome.
1976: A bill abolishing bonded labour is passed.
1977: Reliance Industries launches its initial public offering (IPO).
1976: Economist Raj Krishna coins the term ‘Hindu rate of growth’, referring to India’s slower rate of economic growth compared to the rapidly growing east Asian economies.
1978: Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd, or HDFC, the first specialized mortgage company in India, disburses its first home loan.
1978: First TV commercial is aired.
1980: India’s first credit card, Central Card, is introduced by the Central Bank of India.
1981: Infosys Ltd is incorporated by N.R. Narayana Murthy and six other co-founders.
1982: Mumbai textile mills strike led by controversial union leader Datta Samant and involving nearly 2,50,000 workers in 80 mills cripples the textile industry for over a year.
1982: Indian Oil Corporation commissions India’s first public sector petroleum refinery in Guwahati.
1983: First batch of Maruti cars rolls out, priced at about Rs35,000 apiece.
1984: Bhopal gas tragedy, the world’s worst industrial disaster takes place following gas leak at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant. Over 10,000 people lose their lives over the next few weeks of the disaster.
1985: Significant tax reforms are kicked off by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with V.P. Singh as finance minister.
1986: Demographer Ashish Bose coins the term BIMARU (Bihar-Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh) referring to the poor socio-economic conditions in the four states.
1986: S&P BSE Sensex, India’s first equity index, is launched.
1987: India’s first debit card is introduced by Citi Bank, first ATM installed in Mumbai by HSBC.
1988: Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is established.
1991: Balance of payments crisis hits India.
1991: P.V. Narasimha Rao government’s budget ushers in the era of liberalization.
1992: National Stock Exchange launched as the first demutualized electronic exchange in the country.
1992: Reliance Group becomes the first Indian conglomerate to raise money in international markets.
1992: The Harshad Mehta scam roils markets but lays the path for tighter market regulation.
1993: Infosys launches IPO.
1993: HDFC becomes the first Indian company to receive in-principal approval for setting up a private sector bank.
1993: Hindustan Unilever (HUL) takes over its largest competitor, Tata Oil Mills Company.
1994: Rupee is made convertible on the current account.
1995: National Telecom Policy is formulated to open up Indian markets for foreign direct investment as well as domestic investment in the telecom sector. One of its main goals was to increase accessibility to telecom services.
1995: Cellular phone services are inaugurated as West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu makes the first call from Kolkata.
1999: Satyam Infoway’s Rs499-crore buyout of Rajesh Jain’s IndiaWorld sets off dotcom boom in India.
2000: Privatization of insurance business with a 26% limit on FDI in the sector.
2002: Competition Act comes into force.
2006: India’s largest-ever rural jobs scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), is launched.
2006: Tata group pays $12.98 billion to acquire UK-based Corus in the largest ever cross-border acquisition by an Indian company.
2008: Tata Motors launches Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car.
2009: The Satyam scam erupts.
2011: 2G scam is exposed.
2013: Mars Orbiter Mission, the least expensive in the world, is successfully launched by Isro.
2016: The government announces demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1000 currency notes.
2017: Passage of the Goods and Service Tax Bill ushers in a uniform tax structure throughout the country.
Photos by: Autocar, Reuters, GettyImages, Hindustan Times and Mint
At 70, India has come a long way from the country the British exited in 1947, and which they believed (and hoped) would not survive in its then form. India has since evolved into a vibrant constitutional democracy and made rapid strides in several domains (although there is a lot of work still to be done). Over the next few days, to mark the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, Mint will profile 70 milestones across the years, and across domains—politics, business, entertainment and sport. Put together by Mint’s reporters and editors, these entirely subjective listings are far from comprehensive, as is only to be expected when one is dealing with the seven-decade-old post-independence history of a country as large and complex as India.