20 years of Liberalisation, captured.

From 1961, we have always clamoured for change and when it happened, in 1991, celebrated it. The change has been tumultuous and large swathes of India have been magically transformed, lifting millions of Indians out of poverty. For this year’s Budget Edition, we commissioned India’s top ad agencies to capture the past two decades with a simple and clear brief: to capture the journey of the last 20 years of liberalisation. Across the pages, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, R Balki, Santosh Padhi, Abhijit Avasthi, Josy Paul, K S Chakravarthy and Arun Iyer bring you visuals on the Voyage from ’91 – THE ECONOMIC TIMES.

The battery ran out of the socialist clock in 1991. Two decades on, it surely is an exciting time for India and its hard-driving and globally expanding entrepreneurs. Gone are the hammer and sickle and even the last vestiges of a system of governance that dulled the Indian spirit and dimmed the hopes of millions. Now, in 2011, the Rupee rules, a strong symbol of a new and muscular India.

Summing up 20 years of liberalisation in one picture postcard was challenging. Then lightning struck! We realised that the man who kick-started it all was himself the best brand ambassador. In the past 20 years, he had grown from being an FM who hid in his own shadow to a PM who was not afraid to speak his mind. Manmohan Singh represents our growth story.

The ubiquitous cutting chai glass on the moon represents the relentless drive of Indians. The spirit of enterprise the cutting chai stands for has time and again beaten the “backward” and “poor” tag that India and Indians have had to encounter.


India has walked many a mile to reach where it stands today. In the journey, the padukadepicts the amazing Indian ability to embrace the new while retaining the old. The shoe with Swoosh says: ancient culture and tradition still finds place in 21st century India as the country grows and modernises at a blistering pace.
Manmohan Singh can be called the architect of free market in India. The ad salutes the farsightedness of a man who, in 1991, was mandated to steer India out of a financial crisis. Twenty years on, the Sardar of reforms remains the engine pulling the locomotive of the government.
The common man is also the Indian consumer — the most dramatic consequence of liberalisation. He has seen MNCs from across the world knock at his door. He has sparked the telecom, retail and auto revolutions. He is also the powerhouse behind the stock-market boom; the financier of the infrastructure explosion. He’s 350 million and counting…


India lived frugally before 1991. Constraints were many and choices few. The pre-liberalisation era saw serpentine queues for everything — from jobs to two-wheelers. Today, there’s a waiting line of a different kind: that of the world looking to come to India. The result: a new India enjoying unprecedented growth and development.


Bucking the effects of a global slowdown, India came out much stronger than the developed nations. This has triggered a Reverse Brain Drain. Two decades after economic liberalisation, India is now the preferred job destination of people across the globe. Indeed, India has set the stage with its booming economy and its cutting-edge skills.


In 1991, the first stirrings of change came from the skies as India tuned in to a new reality. The channels of socialism and controlled viewing changed frequency towards a much more pluralistic and globalised environment. Entertainment and reality have collided and Indians are saying: yeh dil maange more.


The choice 20 years ago was between continuing one of the oft-taken path or charting a new course. India took the new road and the Indian consumer is now spoilt for choice. As a result of the reforms initiated in 1991, the world is coming swiftly to terms with India’s growing power and its rapid rise in the world order.


Life before liberalisation for the common man was tough. He chased his dreams amid mountains of red tape and Licence Raj controls. Then came 1991, and freedom. The bright flip-flops symbolise ease and comfort, far far away from that dull and drab life of two decades ago. Encountering red tape in the crazy pillar-to-post run is now a distant memory


7 thoughts on “20 years of Liberalisation, captured.

  1. Pingback: Budgeting India’s Military Modernisation with Myopia : South Asian Idea

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