Arun Jaitley: Architect of Modern Indian Economy

Suman Kumar

Arun Jaitley (28 December 1952-24 August 2019) was an Indian politician and lawyer. He was the Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister of India from 2014 to 2019. He is known for his political acumen and bringing all together. He also oversaw the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax which brought the country under one GST regime, demonetisation, merger of Railway budget with general budget and at the same time introduction of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Jaitley in his previous assignments held the cabinet portfolios of Finance, Defence, Corporate Affairs, etc in the Vajpayee government and Narendra Modi government. From the period of 2009 to 2014, he even served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He has also served as a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India.

Life and Career

Arun Jaitley was born on 28 December 1952, in Delhi, India. His mother, Ratan Prabha Jaitley, was a housewife and his father, Maharaj Kishen Jaitley, was a lawyer. He went to St. Xavier’s Senior Secondary School in Delhi. He earned his B. Com degree in 1973 from Shri Ram College of Commerce in New Delhi. After that, he got his LL.B. degree from the Faculty of Law. He joined the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad the student wing of the pro-Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — when he was at the University of Delhi.

He was elected as President of the University of Delhi’s student union in 1974. He was also touched by the wrath of emergency. When Indira Gandhi declared an Internal Emergency in 1975, he participated in dissent and was arrested. He joined the BJP in 1980 after the party was formed. In 2001, Jai Prakash Narayan appointed him as convener of the National Committee for Students and Youth Organizations.

The V. P. Singh government appointed Jaitley as Additional Solicitor General in 1989.  Later, the Delhi High Court appointed him as a Senior Advocate in 1990. In 1991, he joined the BJP’s national executive. As the party’s spokesperson before the 1999 parliamentary elections, he also held that role for a while between 2002 and 2003. He served in a variety of posts in the coalition government led by the BJP, including as minister of Law, Justice, and Companies Affairs. When the NDA lost the 2004 elections, he became the BJP’s general secretary.

Then he was elected the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha by L.K. Advani. While he was the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, he participated in the debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill, as well as supporting Anna Hazare in her 2011 anti-corruption campaign for a Lokpal bill in India. Between 2014 and 2019, he was India’s Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. In the wake of the BJP’s election victory, Jaitley announced that due to his bad health he would not serve in Modi’s second government. He died on 24 August 2019 in New Delhi, India.

Award and Legacy

After his death, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2020. An event was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to commemorate Jaitley renamed Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla stadium Arun Jaitley Stadium.

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