There is always this debate in Indian economy academia that when did India start to liberalise its economy. Most obvious answer is 1991. But some people say – it was with 1985 VP Singh budget, 1980 India Gandhi started tweaking some ideas, 1977 emergency, 1966 Shastri was receptive to reforms but for his untimely death and so on. So for all you know, 1991 was just a fire which caught on but was ignited much earlier.
Ankit Mital makes a case for 1966 in this article. He is apparently writing a book on 1991 story. :
The year was 1966 and independent India had just embarked on its first experiment with broad-based economic liberalization with a characteristic combination of whim, status quo-ism and bad economics. Reforms were a precondition for a much-needed increase in foreign aid. Unfortunately, neither did the increase in aid materialize, nor did the reforms survive.
“A wise man goes when he can. A fool goes when he must.” While comedian Bill Connolly was referring to nature’s call, it is equally applicable to reforms. Even though it is “easier” to push reforms under the cloak of a crisis, their success is also less evident precisely because the economy is going through a crisis.
This lag in results is perhaps why all attempts at liberalization of the Indian economy have been so short-lived—even the celebrated duo of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh lost their “reformist zeal” in less than two years.