Rajiv Gandhi’s personality and leadership brought in a high level of dynamism in India’s foreign relations. He also left his own personal mark on India’s foreign policy. Rajiv Gandhi was a humble and polite leader as well as an extremely ambitious and dynamic Prime Minister. His mature and effective leadership and initiative led India to become one of the leading markets in telecommunication and Information technology.
Rajiv Gandhi created a separate identity for himself and he also was successful in taking forward Indira Gandhi and Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s initiatives as well. He scripted a new vision for the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) - Nuclear disarmament. He was a great believer of peace and this belief propelled him to propose the idea of disarmament. He championed the cause of NAM, which he saw as a very important pedestal to facilitating peaceful relations between nations. He realized the futility of spending millions on arms and ammunition, and the wild pursuit of arms race, when a huge section of the population was starving.
Rajiv Gandhi played a vital role to improve the bilateral relationships with the United States of America and subsequently expanded the economic and scientific cooperation with it. A revived foreign policy, emphasizing on the economic liberalization and information and technology helped India to find a mark in the global map.
Under his tenure as the Prime Minister, India also took up the cause of fighting against apartheid in South Africa. India’s role is considered instrumental in establishing the South Africa Fund under the cause of Non-Alignment Movement and thus provided support for many South African countries in their struggle for independence through this fund. Rajiv Gandhi’s farsighted initiative also resulted into formation of G15 countries for promotion of the non-alignment movement further enhancing and encouraging South-South cooperation and facilitating a collective dialogue of the South countries with the industrialized nation-states.
Rajiv Gandhi was instrumental in modernizing the Indian armed forces. India developed missiles like Prithvi, Trishul, Agni, etc. during his leadership. The defense spending was one fifth of the total government expenditure. He helped India enhance her image and stature in world politics. India’s standing in the world had improved a great deal the only unresolved issue was that of SriLanka for which he lost his life.
Rajiv Gandhi government took vigorous measures to reform the government bureaucracy and liberalize the country's economy. He is credited with promoting the introduction of computers in India. The economic policies adopted by Rajiv Gandhi were different from his precursors. His government’s measures to reduce the "Red Tapism" were remarkable. In 1986, Rajiv Gandhi announced a "national education policy" to modernize and expand higher education programs across India. Rajiv Gandhi brought a revolution in the field of information technology and telecom. The idea helped in originating the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, popularly known as MTNL. He was the man to transcend telecom services to the rural India or "India in true sense". Rajiv Gandhi introduced India to modern science and technology, which he considered as the very essence of development. He said, 'Freedom and racism cannot co-exist. Science and poverty cannot co-exist.'
Rajiv Gandhi laid great emphasis on the green revolution which he looked upon as being extremely important for agricultural development. He spoke ardently about social justice. For him, equality among people was extremely important, because a society ridden with class and caste distinction was a hindrance to development.
Rajiv Gandhi was posthumously awarded the Highest National Award of India, Bharat Ratna 1991.