In India’s 73 years of Independence, a total of 14 individuals has served the nation as Prime Ministers. Dr. Manmohan singh was one of them.
Today the two time elected former Prime Minister of India turned 87. He played a major role in liberalising India’s economy in 1991 and as prime minister he brought Right to education, jobs and information during his period of service from 2004-14. Before coming in to politics he held several key posts in the Government of India, such as Chief Economic Advisor (1972–76), Governor of the Reserve Bank (1982–85) and Head of the Planning Commission (1985–87).
Let us look at some facts about Manmohan Singh
On 26 September 1932, Singh was Born in Gah (now in Pakistan). During the partition in 1947, his family was migrated to Amritsar, India. He studied at Hindu college. He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 1952 and 1954 respectively in Economics from Punjab University. He completed his Economics Tripos from Cambridge University in UK. In 1960, he went to the University of Oxford for the D.Phil.
In 1966, Singh returned to India and started to work for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 1966–1969. Later, Lalit Narayan Mishra appointed him as an advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Trade.
In 1972, Singh was the Chief Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Finance and in 1976 he become Secretary in the Finance Ministry. In 1982, he was appointed as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
Dr. Singh started his political career in June 1991, when the then Prime Minister P.V Narasimha Rao surprisingly choose Manmohan Singh to be the Finance minister. In an interview to British Journalist Mark Tully in 2005 he said
“On the day (Rao) was formulating his cabinet, he sent his Principal Secretary to me saying, ‘The PM would like you to become the Minister of Finance’. I didn’t take it seriously. He eventually tracked me down the next morning, rather angry, and demanded that I get dressed up and come to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the swearing in. So that’s how I started in politics”.
At that time, Indian economy was going through its worst phase. India’s foreign reserves barely amounted to 1 billion US Dollar, enough to pay for 2 weeks of imports, in compare to 429 billion US Dollar today. The then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao assign the responsibility to Manmohan Singh to eradicate economic crisis in India.
Singh soon come up with the plans and explained the PM and party that India is going through major crisis and economy would collapse anytime if it was not deregulated. To the dismay of the party, Rao allowed Manmohan to deregulate the Indian economy. Soon, Singh eliminated the License-Permit Raj system, reduced state control of the economy, and also reduced import taxes. Singh brings up the policies to liberalise the economy and changed India’s status from socialist to more of a capitalist economy. He eradicated many obstacles standing in the way of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and initiated the process of the privatisation in the public sector.
In 1996, Rao government loose out in general election due to non-performance of government in other areas. Singh became the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. In 1999, he contested for the Lok Sabha from South Delhi but was unable to win the seat.
In 2004, Indian National Congress (INC) led by Sonia Gandhi won most number of seats in General election and formed United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with allies to form a government. Again, surprisingly Chairperson Sonia Gandhi declared Manmohan Singh, as the UPA candidate for the Prime Ministership. Despite the fact that Singh had never won a Lok Sabha seat, he took the oath as the Prime Minister of India on 22 May 2004.
During his first term as a Prime Minister, in 2007, India surpassed China and achieved highest GDP growth rate of 9% and became the second fastest growing economy in the world. In 2008, he signed the Indo-US nuclear deal and it finally opened the nuclear fuel markets for India. The left, withdrew support but Manmohan Singh’s government survived a no-confidence motion in the parliament.
During his second tenure as Prime Minister his government was came into controversy with spectrum allocation scam, the coal scam and the Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam all pointed out by the Controller and Auditor General of India (CAG). In 2014, Manmohan Singh confirmed that he will no more in the race of Prime Minister and resigned from his post.
At last, I just wanted to say that Manmohan Singh is the personality, whom one can love or hate but can’t ignore.