Manmohan Singh

  • If you asked people about India’s most intellectual, most educated, and most down-to-earth Prime Minister, they would unanimously utter the name ‘Manmohan Singh’. He held the Prime Minister’s office for 10 years. In these 10 years, he doubled India’s growth.

  • His career started as a professor. He then became a Government officer. Then came his big breakthrough. A representative of the then Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, informed Manmohan Singh that the Prime Minister would like for you to become the Finance Minister of his cabinet. So, it would be right to say that he didn’t choose politics; Politics chose him! Even on the day of his swearing in, Manmohan Singh was reluctant about this new role. Given a chance, he would have escaped the place. In his signature style, Narasimha Rao firmly said, “You have 2 choices – Become the Finance Minister or go to jail.” In due course, Manmohan Singh started liking his job. He understood that this job is an opportunity to do good to people and started giving his full efforts toward pushing India to a better financial position.

  • Jairam Ramesh, an economist and politician compared Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh to the fabled ‘The hedgehog and the fox’. That is, a fox may know many things, but a hedgehog may know just one thing, but that one thing will be something huge. That is an accurate analogy. In the period 1991-95, Narasimha Rao concentrated on administration and managing the party, while Manmohan Singh concentrated on improving the country’s economy. With the contribution of Manmohan Singh, one of the top economists of the world, India made a huge leap economically. Within 9 months of becoming the Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh brought down the Financial Deficit by 2%.

  • July 24, 1991 is one of the important dates of Independent India. For this is the date Manmohan Singh announced the first budget as the Finance Minister. At that point of time, India was running on deficit. So, Manmohan Singh’s budget focused majorly on reforming the economy to generate more revenue. Special importance was given to industrial policy. Till then other countries could access only a certain portion of the Indian market. Manmohan Singh opened the gates for foreign investment to flow in freely. This then led to the Globalisation, Liberalisation and Privatisation of Indian markets.

  • In an age where even being a company’s manager makes his/her pride rise above the head, Manmohan Singh never let go of his humble nature even when he was the Prime Minister. Once, a young journalist asked him ‘You are an accidental Prime Minister. There is nothing to feel proud about that.” Without losing his composure, Manmohan Singh replied, “Not just the Prime Minister post, the Finance Minister post I held before this was also accidental. But these titles and posts do not make me proud. The good deeds I did with these posts are what make me proud.”

  • A composed person is a stable person. No criticisms or praises can affect their thought process. Manmohan Singh is the best example for this. In 2013, in one of the Parliament sessions, when Manmohan Singh was seated in the Prime Minister’s Chair. To him, Sushma Swaraj lashes “We do not know to be unjust toward the people, and you don’t know to be loyal to the people.” The entire opposition party roars with laughter at her comment. Manmohan Singh replied with a playful smile, “The people know about your loyalty and they know about your righteousness too.” Despite the playful tone, the reply reflected toughness.

  • His comments regarding the economy never failed to include the side of the common man. He may have widened the market to invite the inflow of foreign funds, but he did not consider it as the ultimate solution. In an interview he gave in 2004, he said, “If I had thought the markets would handle themselves without any management, India would have been split into 2 islands. The smaller of the islands would witness a fast growth while the larger island will grow slowly. So, markets are not everything.” The small island refers to the cream layer of the society that bathes in money. This shows that he examined each and every part of his actions, so that they didn’t impact the common man negatively.

  • A promise you can see on every election manifesto – “We will increase employment opportunities.” But it is difficult for a government to increase employment opportunities by itself. It needs the help of the private sector to address the increasing unemployment. Being an economist, Manmohan Singh understood this too well. He declared “Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital firms are non-governmental constructs that have great scope to increase employment opportunities. The government can only facilitate them, it cannot run them.” It is an irrefutable fact that the industrial side of India saw a colossal growth during Manmohan Singh’s term as the Prime Minister.

  • As soon as one speaks about Manmohan, our mind immediately associates his name with Economics. But his social views are a less-known aspect of him. At an event he was asked, “The reservation is creating unforeseen and unfavourable effects. Why can’t the reservation be reduced or removed entirely?” To this, Manmohan steadily said that if one wanted to know the answer to this, they must understand the situation of backward classes, tribes, and minorities. For centuries together their mere existence was a hardship. With no access to basic necessities, they have not lived a life a human deserves. This reservation is the long overdue debt we are paying to such classes that were neglected by the society. And therefore, the reservation will continue to exist. In this reply of his, he used words such as ‘Persistent Discrimination’ and ‘Historic Inequality’. Not many Prime Ministers have the courage to utter these strong yet precise words.

  • To the possible limit, Manmohan Singh acted as per his conscience. In 1991, he was a Rajya Sabha member when he became a Finance Minister. He felt that he had to meet the people at some point and know their concerns. In 1999, he decided to meet the people, but the meeting did not happen. He announced that “I am overwhelmed by the importance the people of India have been giving me.” He was asked “Before this you were not a part of politics. The minute you became a politician, you started receiving insults.” To this, Manmohan Singh calmly replied “Yes, I’m a politician. I do not expect any special treatment just because I am an intellectual person and a top economist.”

  • Manmohan Singh is entirely against fooling people. One of his favourite sayings is one by Lincoln “You can fool some people sometimes, you can fool all people sometimes, but you cannot fool all at all times.” So, he would always advise his fellow politicians that they should fulfill at least a few of the promises they make to the people. If one were to make a list of important laws passed in the history of Independent India, they cannot miss to include Right to Information Act, Right to Education Act and Nirbhaya Act. Manmohan Singh’s determination played a major role in passing these laws.

  • He was an ardent follower of Gandhian Principles. Whenever he is asked about his message to youngsters, he says, “Follow the Gandhian Values.” His famous statement – “I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media, or for that matter, the Opposition parties in Parliament” reflects how calm and straight he was with his responses. The Gandhian principles had pervaded every aspect of his job, including his speeches and responses.