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One year ago today, India lost one of her most precious gems – Shri Arun Jaitley, former Finance Minister; a man who donned many hats, and in every sphere of his life, was a personality par excellence. Although Mr Jaitley had been fighting his battles with a prolonged illness, his demise was like a sudden shockwave that hit the country, and rocked the walls of SRCC, since we had not only lost our most illustrious alumnus, but also a leader who had led, and was yet to lead thousands by his example.

Shri Arun Jaitley stood tall among his peers and was respected across party lines. His deep knowledge, strong interpersonal skills and ability to reason made him a leading force of the Shri Narendra Modi led government from 2014-19. He was regarded as a free thinker and a cabinet minister who was determined to introduce reforms. Among his most valuable contributions was the implementation of the much awaited and needed Goods & Service Tax, which is regarded as the ‘One Nation, One Tax’ policy. GST is one the most transformative and far-reaching reforms related to indirect taxation in the country. This rule-based single tax regime introduced under the leadership of Mr. Jaitley has been hailed as a right step in the direction of achieving a robust tax system. The success of the move was highlighted in the Ease of Paying Taxes Index, where India’s ranking improved from 172 to 121.

Enactment of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code 2016 established that Mr. Jaitley was a farsighted administrator who wanted to ensure a conducive environment to foreign investors, and a time-bound process to resolve insolvency. The cleanup of the NPA mess created mainly during the second stint of the UPA government was a painful yet significant process backed by the Finance Ministry. Indian banks were made to undertake the biggest-ever bank loan clean-up process under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), thus bringing down the gross NPAs from 11.2 per cent in March 2018 to 10.3 per cent in December 31, 2018. His term also saw the increase in FDI inflows, higher average growth during four years was found to be 7.35%, and inflation clocked in at an impressive 2.9%. Establishment of Monetary Policy Committee to vouch for greater transparency and accountability in fixing India’s monetary policy was a well-received development that Mr Jaitley insisted on. The committee aimed at providing price stability, improving the decision making process and boosting up the growth rate of the country’s economy. Launch of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna opened new avenues for financial inclusion of people all across the nation, thus spreading financial literacy and empowering the masses through a simplified mobile banking system. The initiative also provided more opportunities for fintech companies and completed the holy trinity of JAM(Jan Dhan, Aadhaar & Mobile). Mr Jaitley was often regarded as the face of the Startup India campaign, having inaugurated it in 2016. He understood the requirement of freedom to upcoming businesses and tried to solve the important issue of lack of funds with Indian entrepreneurs.

Shri Arun Jaitley was able to bring major structural changes in the banking sector, taxation system and the economy as a whole. His participation and suggestions to the government in the current crisis situation would have yielded promising results and would have strengthened the faith and confidence towards the government in those who admired him and his work.

Shri Arun Jaitley has left an indelible mark on the economic course of India and his legacy will be celebrated by the coming generations with much fervour and pride. As a student of Shri Ram College of Commerce, I feel honoured to be a part of an institution where Mr. Jaitley is alive in the hearts of students!

By Devashish Miglani


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