1990s: The Decade that Transformed India

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There is something nostalgic about the 90s. The very mention of it lightens the face even of the gravest person, and why shouldn’t it? After all it was a decade of innovation, optimism, globalisation and a period when the walls of authoritarianism finally started crumbling.

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven. This is what William Wordsworth said about the French revolution, before the be-headings began and he returned to England. Just like Wordsworth’s romanticism for the French revolution, most of us have a very rosy picture of the 90s.

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Major events in the 90s that shaped India

Mandal Commission

Since government jobs and higher education institutes were dominated by people belonging to the upper castes. V.P. Singh, the Prime Minister of India at the time, tried to implement Mandal commission recommendations in August 1990 which led to protests and self-immolation across the country. While caste based reservation still remains a touchy subject in India, many poor people belonging to backward communities got government jobs owing to this policy and thus saved from further exploitation. This also led to the strengthening of regional political parties in India.

Economic liberalisation

In 1991, a balance of payment crisis pushed India to near bankruptcy. In return for a bailout, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forced economic reforms upon India. But this was good for the general public. Since state monopolies were broken, the economy was opened for trade and investment, private sector enterprises were encouraged. While implementing economic reforms was not an easy task, but a quarter of century after its implementation India became the sixth largest economy in the world.

Hindu-Muslim divide revisited

The demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and Bombay bomb blasts in 1993 played an important role in bringing back the old animosities to the forefront. While vote bank politics was nothing new in India, but this certainly was the beginning of a new chapter.

The Idiot-box

The 90s is considered the best decade when it comes to Indian serials and shows. These programs not only provided entertainment, but they also made people aware of the country’s history, mythology, news, lifestyle, trends, etc. This helped people understand their country better, they became slightly liberal and most importantly it increased the aspirations of the people, especially the ones living in smaller cities. Seeing women on television, talking about their achievements or being felicitated for their accomplishments, also acted as an inspiration for many young girls.

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India – A nation evolving

The Indian government through their economic reforms and caste based reservation policy in the 90s made an effort to not only bridge the gap between the rich and poor, but also between people belonging to different castes and communities. But India is not only the largest democracy in the world but also a developing nation, as such it takes time to bring about a change in the society. Till then, India and its citizens are trying to find unity in their diversity as they conquer new challenges and create new milestones.

The economic liberalisation, which was followed by the rapid growth of private sector, has driven millions of people to different parts of the country – creating young, vibrant and liberal communities throughout the country.

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