Home ministry not a new portfolio for Chidambaram

November 30th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Palaniappan Chidambaram, who was named India’s home minister Sunday, has had prior experience with the portfolio when he was minister of state for internal security in Rajiv Gandhi’s government between 1986 and 1989.The 63-year-old lawyer-politician, who has merely shifted to another office down the Byzantine corridors of North Block that houses both the finance and home ministries, was the country’s finance minister since the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government took power May 22, 2004.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has retained the finance portfolio - which he had previously held between 1991 and 1996 - while Shivraj Patil has resigned as home minister, following the 60-hour terror nightmare in Mumbai.

During Chidambaram’s four-and-a-half years as finance minister, the Indian economy grew by an average of over 9 percent and stock markets boomed, even though there has been some slowdown in the first two quarters of this fiscal year.

A member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, from Tamil Nadu, Chidambaram was also the country’s finance minister between June 1996 and March 1998 as an able successor to Manmohan Singh.

He had then tabled what was then called a “dream budget” and widely welcomed by Indian industry as it cut sharply the rates of corporate and income tax as well as excise and customs duties, while also projecting higher revenues for the government.

As a lawyer, he is recognised among the leading senior counsels, particularly in the area of constitutional and corporate law. He enrolled as an advocate in the Madras High Court in 1969 and has practised in several high courts and the Supreme Court.

Known to cut and dried in his answers to the point of being called curt, Chidambaram secured a bachelor of science and then a law degree from the Madras University, and subsequently attended the Harvard Business School and was awarded a Masters in Business Administration.

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