New Delhi: Architect of "dream budget" and known for taking bold decisions, P Chidambaram is back at the helm in the Finance Ministry after a gap of nearly four years and has a formidable task on hand to lift the country out of a economic slowdown.
67-year-old Chidambaram returns to the crucial portfolio at a time when the country's economic growth has slipped to a nine-year low of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12 and restoring confidence among foreign and domestic investors needs urgent attention.
He left the Finance Ministry to succeed Shivraj Patil as Home Minister, days after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been holding charge of the Finance Ministry after Pranab Mukherjee quit on June 26 to contest Presidential elections.
A Harvard educated lawyer, Chidambaram became the face of India's economic reforms when he took over as the Finance Minister in the United Front government in 1996 under HD Deve Gowda.
He presented a budget that vastly slashed tax rates and contained a number of sops for the corporate sector which was hailed as a "dream budget". That the budget could not have its full run due to the fall of the government then, is a different story.
Hailing from a small business community of prosperous Chettiars of Tamil Nadu, Chidambaram was in the forefront of the economic reforms unleashed during the P V Narasimha Rao government post-1991 and executed by Manmohan Singh as finance minister.
He made his re-entry into the finance ministry after the UPA was voted to power in 2004 beating many other claimants to the post.
As Home Minister, Chidambaram had moved swiftly setting up a mechanism to daily monitor the security situation with constant interaction with heads of para-military forces and intelligence.
He was instrumental in gearing up the security and intelligence set-ups and brought in greater accountability to meet challenges of terrorism and insurgency.
He had earlier quit the Congress and joined the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) of G K Moopanar, who had floated the regional outfit after falling out with the Congress over aligning with AIADMK.
Chidambaram, who lost Parliamentary elections only once in 1999 on a TMC ticket, parted ways with Moopanar in 2001 when the veteran Congressman decided to align with Jayalalithaa's AIAMDK for the 2001 Assembly elections and floated his own outfit Congress Jananayaga Peravai.
In his early part of his life, Chidambaram practiced as an advocate in the Madras High Court and later in the Supreme Court and was an adviser to several multinational companies.
Since 1984, he had been re-elected to the Lok Sabha from the same Sivaganga constituency in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998, 2004 and in the last Parliamentary elections.