There are seven of them. Seven finance ministers, who comprise a financial band of magnificent men and women (India had the first independent woman FM in 2019), and who changed the course of India’s economy. Between 1991 and 2021, through policy vehicles, which included 31 main Budgets, and a few interim ones, they defined and refined, imagined and re-imagined, discussed and debated how the market’s invisible hand could deliver discernible results.
They were both idealists and pragmatists. They were social philosophers and economic scientists, welded into one. They were driven by not what was, but what could be, as also the electoral realities. They steered the country by taking sharp and blind right turns, and sometimes lost their way and took random left cuts. They raced ahead with their ideas on a few occasions, and were forced to turn back at a few crossroads. These FMs married market mantras with socialist slogans.