Monday, December 18

Dr. Manmohan Singh

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Few doubt his ability as an economist and administrator. H is credited with the resurrection of the Indian Economy during its worst financial crisis. India’s architect of reforms, he is the country’s14th Prime Minister, and the first Sikh Prime Minisyter of the country. Who else can it be except the accomplished Manmohan singh?

             Born on 26 September 1932 in Gah, Punjab, (now in district Chakwal, Pakistan) his past reflects a man risen from the grassroots. His success is built on dedication and merit, overcoming all odds.

             Singh is an economist by profession, and has formerly served in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He is also known as an unassuming politician, enjoying a formidable, highly respected and admired image. He served as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982 to 1985, and was elevated to the position of the Finance Minister in 1991 by then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. This was the time when the country was plunging into bankruptcy. India at that time had an unsustainable fiscal deficit-8.5% of the GDP. Its foreign exchange reserves had sunk to around $1 billion, roughly equal to two weeks of imports. In his maiden speech as the finance minister, he famously quoted Victor Hugo, “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”. This served as a guideline for the launch of an abiitious economic reform programme. These ‘Bold’ reforms included slashing of rep tape, simplifying the tax systemand removing the stifling regulations to try to create on environment conducive to business.

            As a result of his efforts, the economy revived, industry picked up, inflation was checked, and the growth rated remained consistently high in the 1990s. The economy under Manmohan singh’s stewardship responded and grew at a steady7% per annum.

            Singh stayed with the Congress despite continuous marginalization and defeats in the clections and 1996, 1998 and 1999. He did not join the rebels in a major split which occurred in 1999, when three congress leaders objected to Sonia Gandhi’s rise as Congress’s choice for the PMs job, she became a target of some so called nationalists who objected to her foreign birth. It seemed that a party which turned to old links in the nehru family and a forigner for  political leasership had no future. But singh continued to stay on as a leader within the party.

             An alliance led by the Congress party won a surprisingly high nubmer of seats in the Parliamentary elections of 2004. The left front decided to support a coalition Government led by the Congress from the outside. Sonia Gandhi was the elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and was expected to become the Prime Minister.

             In a surprising move, sonia Gandhi declined to accept the post and instead proposed manmohan singh;s name ofr the coveted Prime Minister’s office. he secured the nomination for Prime Minister on may 19, 2004 when president  APJ Abdul Kalam officially asked him to form the government. Although most people expected him to keep the finance ministry with himself, he entrused the job to the old hand P chidambram.

            Manmohan singh’s tenure, as the Primi Minister, has been a mixed one. His image is generally regarded as an intellectal, hinest but cautious, attentive to working class people, and technocratic, Although legislative achievements have been few, Singh’s farmers and extending social programmes. His pro-industry economic and tax policies have launched the country on a major economic expansion course since 2004. The Foreign policy has been to continue the new peace process with Pakistan and building stronger relations with the US, China and the European nations.

The government suffered a major setback when it lost the support of a key ally, African Union members, for its bid for a permanent membership to the UN security council. However, one of the biggest achievements of his government has been the Indo-US Nuclear deal.

With Manmohan singh at the helm of affairs and India’ s economy growing robust at 8% per annum, it seems that India is posing a major challenge to the countried of the world. At this juncture, it would not be wrong to say that India can take a few more impressive strides during his tenure.

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