Since its inception, the Forum has published over 700 booklets and arranged over 2200 public meetings, all having a bearing on various crucial aspects of economics, with primary focus on problems and challenges facing the Indian economy. The booklets published reveal the range of important economic issues discussed. Add to this the subjects discussed at public meetings by eminent speakers, one would not only have an idea of the topicality of issues, but also of prominence of speakers involved. Even a cursory glance at the memorial lectures delivered (list published elsewhere) is good enough to drive home the qualitative dimensions of the public policy matters covered.
Thus, subjects discussed at public meetings are wide Ranging, from Free Enterprise and Freedom to Limits and Ills of Nationalization; Planning in India; Capitalism; State Trading; Taxation and Union Budgets; Inflation; Food Problem; Famine; Poverty and Unemployment; Foreign Exchange Problem; Population Problem; Housing Problem; Urbanization; Transport Problem; Industrial Policy; Science and Technology; Education; Consumerism; Sustainable Development; Reform of Judiciary; Legal Reforms; Parliamentary Democracy; Regional Economic Corporation and WTO; International Finance; Capital Market; Banking; Insurance; Economic Reforms and Liberalization; Make in India; and so on.
The booklets and public meetings have surely made Significant impact in shaping public opinion on a variety of economic issues, and in influencing directly or indirectly the policy making in the country. Indeed, some of the issues discussed on Forum’s platform have helped in generating widespread debates around the country on many crucial aspects of economic policies. For example, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the discussions on the subject of state trading in food grains was said to have prompted producers and dealers coming together to form a federation of their own. Many of the booklets incorporating Mr. Nani Palkhivala’s famous budget speeches had significant impact on crucial aspects of wide-ranging economic and fiscal reforms, and especially on simplification, reduction and rationalization of tax structure.
Indeed, some of Forum’s booklets can legitimately proclaim to have promoted several pioneering and creative concepts and ideas. Thus, way back in 1957, a thought was expressed by Mr. Y.A. Fazalbhoy in one of the booklets about sponsored Radio, which was unthinkable at that time, but has now become a reality. It was then stated that “Sponsored Radio, in simple words, is a medium for advertising, available to manufacturers, industrialists, merchants and traders. It generally consists of privately owned radio stations Operating for the benefit of advertisers. It is a powerful medium which can help open new markets.” As was to be expected, keeping in view the policy of those years, this proposition was shot down by the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting under the pretext that ‘’it would tend to lower the quality of programmes, affect cultural standards and would inevitably tend to make the foreign industrial sources and advertising interests the main economic patrons of the radio.” But thanks to the economic liberalization and technological advancements we are already a witness to radical changes in the radio and other broadcasting media, and over the last quarter century in the television with a huge spread of private channels.
Similarly, a talk on Milk Problem, in 1974, by Mr. D.N. Khurody, a former Dairy Development Commissioner of Bombay, elicited editorials in several dailies and resulted in a review of milk supply in Bombay City. In another
booklet published in 1975, Mr. H.T. Parekh, the great financial wizard and institutional builder, reflected on the ways and means of solving the housing problem for the middle-class in the country, which eventually planted the seeds for founding of the Housing Development and Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC). Interestingly, while delivering the A.D. Shroff Memorial Lecture in 1981, he also advocated the need for the formation of a regional economic Council for South Asian countries, which probably provided inspiration for the eventual birth of SAARC subsequently.
Yet another booklet authored by Dr. K.L. Rao, a former Union Minister for Power and Irrigatin in 1975, also Proposed the Water Canal Project for India, which among other things, proposed: (a) National Water Authority with Prime Minister as Chairman; (b) national water links and ensuring quality control or rivers; and (c) international cooperation with neighbouring countries for integrated planning for water resources. Likewise, Capt. Dinshaw Dastur, in 1987, while delivering the A.D. Shroff Memorial Lecture proposed the famous Garland Canal Project to solve India’s perennial problems of floods, transport and water.
Among renowned persons who have appeared on Forum’s platform as speakers or authored booklets published by the Forum are: Sir Milton Friedman, Prof. Amartya Sen, Prof. Colin Clark, Prof. Peter Bauer, Prof. C.N. Vakil, Prof. P.R. Brahmananda, Dr. Abid Hussain, Dr. Rajaj Chelliah, Dr. V.M. Dandekar, Prof. B.R. Shenoy, Prof. Gangadhar Gadgil, Prof. Ashish Bose, S.l. Rao, Dr. Raghuram Rajan, Dr. Bibek Debroy, Dr. C.D. Deshmukh, H.V.R. Iengar, M. Narasimham, Dr. Y.V. Reddy, S.S. Tarapore, Dr. Rakesh Mohan, Dr. Subir Gokarn, Kishori Udeshi, Syamala Gopinath, Usha Thorat, Justice K. Subbarao, Justice M.C. Chagla, Justice H.R. Khanna, Prof. M.S. Thacker, Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Dr. R.A. Mashelkar FRS, Dr. Ashok Ganguly, G.L. Mehta, H.T. Parekh, Naval Tata, Dr. J.J. Irani, Dr. B.P. Godrej, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Hasham Premji, Azim Premji, F.C. Kohli, Nandan Nilekani, B.G. Deshmukh, R.D. Pradhan, N. Vittal, Nani Palkhivala, Dr. Karan Singh, Maja Daruwala, Julio Ribeiro, Shailesh Gandhi, Ramesh Ramanathan, Prof. V.V. John, Dr. A.S. Desai, Dr. Madhuri Shah and a host of others.
Nani A. Palkhivala Memorial Lectures by Eminent Persons
(Soft copies of few Forum’s booklets available).