Some of the measures that left their imprint and impact on the Indian economy
Most young readers would not be aware of the fact that builders and individuals had to apply to the government for their “quota” of cement in the heydays of socialism under Indira Gandhi. This led to massive corruption and market distortions. The “official” price of cement was about Rs 35 per bag while the black “market” price was about Rs 200 per bag. Eventually, the then chief minister of Maharashtra A. R. Antulay was “caught” in a cement allocation scam. It was alleged that he was doling out cement quotas to builders in exchange for donations to trusts run by him in the name of the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. A visibly embarrassed Indira Gandhi was compelled to sack Antulay as the chief minister. But this “cement scam” had an unintended, unexpected, but very significant consequence. In 1982, the government announced that it was lifting all controls from the cement industry. Companies were free to manufacture as much cement as they wanted and did not need any government approvals. It was left to market forces to decide the supply, demand and price of cement.