Manmohan Singh


Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh
ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ
The Right Honourable Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Incumbent
Assumed office
22 May 2004
President Abdul Kalam
Pratibha Patil
Preceded by Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Minister of Railways
In office
19 May 2011 – 13 July 2011
President Pratibha Patil
Preceded by Mamata Banerjee
Succeeded by Dinesh Trivedi
Minister of Finance
In office
30 November 2008 – 24 January 2009
Preceded by P. Chidambaram
Succeeded by Pranab Mukherjee
In office
21 June 1991 – 16 May 1996
Prime Minister Narasimha Rao
Preceded by Yashwant Sinha
Succeeded by Jaswant Singh
Minister of External Affairs
In office
6 November 2005 – 24 October 2006
Preceded by Kunwar Natwar Singh
Succeeded by Pranab Mukherjee
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission
In office
15 January 1985 – 31 August 1987
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
Preceded by Narasimha Rao
Succeeded by Punjala Shiv Shankar
Governor of the Reserve Bank
In office
15 September 1982 – 15 January 1985
Preceded by Indraprasad Gordhanbhai Patel
Succeeded by Amitav Ghosh
Personal details
Born 26 September 1932 (1932-09-26) (age 79)
Gah, British India[1]
Political party Indian National Congress
Spouse(s) Gursharan Kaur (1958–present)
Children Upinder
Daman
Amrit
Residence Panchavati (Official)
Guwahati (Private)
Alma mater Panjab University, Chandigarh
St John's College, Cambridge
Nuffield College, Oxford
Profession Economist
Civil servant
Social worker
Professor
Religion Sikhism
Signature Manmohan Singh
Website Official website

Manmohan Singh (Punjabi: ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ [mənˈmoːɦən ˈsɪ́ŋɡ]; Hindi: मनमोहन सिंह [??] ( listen); born 26 September 1932) is the 13th and current Prime Minister of India. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term.[2] A Sikh, he was the first non-Hindu to occupy the office. Singh is also the 7th Prime Minister belonging to the Indian National Congress party. He is a four-time Member of Parliament from the Upper House of the Parliament of India, the Rajya Sabha, representing the state of Assam.

Singh previously carried out economic reforms in India in 1991, during his tenure as the Finance Minister, under the leadership of P. V. Narasimha Rao, from 1991 to 1996. These reforms resulted in the end of the Licence Raj system, helping to open the Indian economy to greater international trade and investment.[3]

In 2010, Newsweek magazine recognized him as a world leader who is respected by other heads of state, describing him as "the leader other leaders love." The article quoted Mohamed ElBaradei, who remarked that Dr. Singh is "the model of what a political leader should be."[4] Singh is number 18 on the 2010 Forbes list of the world's most powerful people.[5] Forbes magazine described Singh as being "universally praised as India's best prime minister since Nehru".[6]

Contents

Early life and education

Manmohan Singh was born to Gurmukh Singh and Amrit Kaur on 26 September 1932, in Gah, Punjab, (now in Chakwal District, Pakistan), British India, into a Sikh Khatri family. He lost his mother when he was very young and was raised by his paternal grandmother, to whom he was very close.

After the Partition of India, his family migrated to Amritsar, India, where he studied at Hindu College. He attended Panjab University, Chandigarh, then in Hoshiarpur,[7][8][9][10] Punjab, studying Economics and got his bachelor's and master's degrees in 1952 and 1954, respectively, standing first throughout his academic career. He went on to read for the Economics Tripos at Cambridge as a member of St John's College. He won the Wright's Prize for distinguished performance in 1955 and 1957. He was also one of the few recipients of the Wrenbury scholarship. In 1962, Singh completed his studies from the University of Oxford where he was a member of Nuffield College. The title of his doctoral thesis was "India’s export performance, 1951–1960, export prospects and policy implications" and his thesis supervisor was Dr. I.M.D. Little. This thesis later grew into the book "India’s Export Trends and Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth".[11]

In 1997, the University of Alberta awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Law degree.[12] The University of Oxford awarded him an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in July 2005,[13] and in October 2006, the University of Cambridge followed with the same honour.[14] St. John's College further honoured him by naming a Ph.D Scholarship after him, the Dr. Manmohan Singh Scholarship. In 2008, he was awarded honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Benaras Hindu University[15] and later that year he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by University of Madras.[16] In 2010, he was awarded honorary doctorate degree by King Saud University.[17]

After completing his Ph.D., Singh worked for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 1966–1969. During the 1970s, he taught at the University of Delhi and worked for the Ministry of Foreign Trade with the former Cabinet Minister for Foreign Trade, Lalit Narayan Mishra. As the Minister of Foreign Trade, Lalit Narayan Mishra was one of the first to recognize Singh's talent as an economist and appointed him his advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Singh and Mishra first met, coincidentally, on a flight from India to Chile. Mishra was on his way to Santiago, Chile to attend an UNCTAD meeting.[18]

In 1982, he was appointed the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and held the post until 1985. He went on to become the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of India from 1985 to 1987. Following his tenure at the Planning Commission, he was Secretary General of the South Commission, an independent economic policy think tank headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland from 1987 to 1990.[19]

Early political career

Finance Minister of India

In 1991, India's Prime Minister at the time, P.V. Narasimha Rao, chose Singh to be his Finance Minister. At this time, India's fiscal deficit was close to 8.5 per cent of the gross domestic product, the balance of payments deficit was huge and the current account deficit was close to 3.5 percent of India's GDP.[20] India's foreign reserves barely amounted to USD$1 billion, enough to pay for a few weeks of imports, in comparison to USD$283 billion today.[21]

Evidently, India was facing an economic crisis. At this point, the government of India sought relief from the supranational International Monetary Fund, which, while assisting India financially, imposed several conditions regarding India's economic policy. In effect, IMF-dictated policy meant that the ubiquitous Licence Raj had to be dismantled, and India's attempt at a state-controlled economy had to end. Accordingly, Singh, who had thus far been one of the most influential architects of India's socialist economy, slowly opened the Indian economy to foreign investment and business competition.[20][22]

Rao and Singh thus implemented policies to open up the economy and change India's socialist economy to a more capitalistic one, in the process dismantling the Licence Raj, a system that inhibited the prosperity of private businesses. They removed many obstacles standing in the way of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and initiated the process of the privatization of public sector companies. However, in spite of these reforms, Rao's government was voted out in 1996 due to non-performance of government in other areas. In praise of Singh's work that pushed India towards a market economy, long-time Cabinet minister P. Chidambaram has referred to Singh as the Deng Xiaoping of India.[23]

In 1993, Singh offered his resignation from the post of Finance Minister after a parliamentary investigation report criticised his ministry for not being able to anticipate a USD$1.8 billion securities scandal. Prime Minister Rao refused Singh's resignation, instead promising to punish the individuals directly accused in the report.[24]

Career in the Rajya Sabha

Singh was first elected to the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, in 1991[25] from the state of Assam, and was re-elected in 2001 and 2007[26]. From 1998 to 2004, while the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power, Singh was the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In 1999, he contested for the Lok Sabha from South Delhi but was unable to win the seat.[27]

Prime ministership

14th Lok Sabha

A renowned economist,[28] Singh is also regarded as one of the "greatest statesmen in Asian history".[29] Shown here with Indian delegation at the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm.

After the 2004 general elections, the Indian National Congress stunned the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) by becoming the political party with the single largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. In a surprise move, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi declared Manmohan Singh, a technocrat, as the UPA candidate for the Prime Ministership. Despite the fact that Singh had never won a Lok Sabha seat, he "has enjoyed massive popular support, not least because he was seen by many as a clean politician untouched by the taint of corruption that has run through many Indian administrations."[30] He took the oath as the Prime Minister of India on 22 May 2004.[31][32]

Economic policy

Following the advice of International Monetary Fund in 1991, Singh as Finance Minister, freed India from the Licence Raj, source of slow economic growth and corruption in the Indian economy for decades. He liberalized the Indian economy, allowing it to speed up development dramatically. During his term as Prime Minister, Singh continued to encourage growth in the Indian market, enjoying widespread success in these matters. Singh, along with the former Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, have presided over a period where the Indian economy has grown with an 8–9% economic growth rate. In 2007, India achieved its highest GDP growth rate of 9% and became the second fastest growing major economy in the world.[33][34]

Singh is now a strong supporter of globalization, seeing India's immense labor capacity as a path to delivering Indian goods in a worldwide market and eventually relieving large-scale poverty.[35]

Singh's government has continued the Golden Quadrilateral and the highway modernisation program that was initiated by Vajpayee's government. Singh has also been working on reforming the banking and financial sectors, as well as public sector companies. The Finance ministry has been working towards relieving farmers of their debt and has been working towards pro-industry policies. In 2005, Singh's government introduced the value added tax, replacing sales tax. In 2007 and early 2008, the global problem of inflation impacted India.[36]

Healthcare and education

In 2005, Prime Minister Singh and his government's health ministry started the National Rural Health Mission, which has mobilised half a million community health workers. This rural health initiative was praised by the American economist Jeffrey Sachs.[37] In 2006, his Government implemented the proposal to reserve 27% of seats in All India Institute of Medical Studies (AIIMS), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and other central institutions of higher education for Other Backward Classes which led to 2006 Indian anti-reservation protests.

Singh has announced that eight more Indian Institutes of Technology will be opened in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Orissa, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. The Singh government has also continued the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, begun by his predecessor, Mr. Vajpayee. The programme has included the introduction and improvement of mid-day meals and the opening of schools all over India, especially in rural areas, to fight illiteracy.

Security and Home Affairs

His government has been instrumental in strengthening anti-terror laws with amendments to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), where most of provisions of POTA were reincorporated,critics however cite that the amendments make the act equally draconian. National Investigation Agency (India) (NIA) was also created soon after the Nov 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised. Also Unique Identification Authority of India was established in February 2009, an agency responsible for implementing the envisioned Multipurpose National Identity Card with the objective of increasing national security and facilitating e-governance. His government has been criticized by some human rights organizations,that these measures could help establish a police state.

His government has also been criticized for not being able to reduce the Naxal terrorism that is menacing rural areas in Eastern and Central India. Singh's government has, however, extended the ban on the radical Islamic terror group Student's Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Singh's administration initiated a massive reconstruction effort in Kashmir to stabilise the region but after some period of success, insurgent infiltration and terrorism in Kashmir has increased since 2009.[38] However, the Singh administration has been successful in reducing terrorism in Northeast India.[38]

Legislation

The important National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and the Right to Information Act were passed by the Parliament in 2005 during his tenure. While the effectiveness of the NREGA has been successful at various degrees, in various regions, the RTI act has proved crucial in India's fight against corruption.[39]

Foreign policy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Manmohan Singh has continued the pragmatic foreign policy that was started by P.V. Narasimha Rao and continued by Bharatiya Janata Party's Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh has continued the peace process with Pakistan initiated by his predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Exchange of high-level visits by top leaders from both countries have highlighted his tenure, as has reduced terrorism and increased prosperity in the state of Kashmir. Efforts have been made during Singh's tenure to end the border dispute with People's Republic of China. In November 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India which was followed by Singh's visit to Beijing in January 2008. A major development in Sino-Indian relations was the reopening of the Nathula Pass in 2006 after being closed for more than four decades. As of 2010, the People's Republic of China is the second biggest trade partner of India.[40]

Relations with Afghanistan have also improved considerably, with India now becoming the largest regional donor to Afghanistan.[41] During Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to New Delhi in August 2008, Manmohan Singh increased the aid package to Afghanistan for the development of more schools, health clinics, infrastructure, and defence.[42] Under the leadership of Singh, India has emerged as one of the single largest aid donors to Afghanistan.[42]

Manmohan Singh with American President Barack Obama at the White House. Singh is known to be a pro US leader and has contributed a lot in cementing the ties between the two countries.

Singh's government has worked towards stronger ties with the United States. He visited the United States in July 2005 initiating negotiations over the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. This was followed by George W. Bush's successful visit to India in March 2006, during which the declaration over the nuclear agreement was made, giving India access to American nuclear fuel and technology while India will have to allow IAEA inspection of its civil nuclear reactors. After more than two years for more negotiations, followed by approval from the IAEA, Nuclear Suppliers Group and the US Congress, India and the U.S. signed the agreement on 10 October 2008 with Pranab Mukherjee representing India.[43]

Singh had the first official state visit to the White House during the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. The visit took place in November 2009, and several discussions took place, including on trade and nuclear power.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seen here with Dmitry Medvedev, Hu Jintao, Dilma Rousseff and Jacob Zuma at the 3rd 2011 BRICS Summit in Sanya, China.

Relations have improved with Japan and European Union countries, like the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Relations with Iran have continued and negotiations over the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline have taken place. New Delhi hosted an India–Africa Summit in April 2006 which was attended by the leaders of 15 African states.[44] Relations have improved with other developing countries, particularly Brazil and South Africa. Singh carried forward the momentum which was established after the "Brasilia Declaration" in 2003 and the IBSA Dialogue Forum was formed.[45]

Manmohan Singh's government has also been especially keen on expanding ties with Israel. Since 2003, the two countries have made significant investments in each other[46] and Israel now rivals Russia to become India's defence partner.[47] Though there have been a few diplomatic glitches between India and Russia, especially over the delay and price hike of several Russian weapons to be delivered to India,[48] relations between the two remain strong with India and Russia signing various agreements to increase defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation.[49]

15th Lok Sabha

India held general elections to the 15th Lok Sabha in five phases between 16 April 2009 and 13 May 2009. The results of the election were announced on 16 May 2009.[50] Strong showing in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh helped the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) form the new government under the incumbent Singh, who became the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 to win re-election after completing a full five-year term.[51] The Congress and its allies were able to put together a comfortable majority with support from 322 members out of 543 members of the House. These included those of the UPA and the external support from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and other minor parties.[52]

On 22 May 2009, Manmohan Singh was sworn in as the Prime Minister during a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.[53][54] The 2009 Indian general election was the largest democratic election in the world held to date, with an eligible electorate of 714 million.

Public image

Singh has always been perceived as a man of clean background. He is seen as a man of few words. The Independent described him as "one of the world's most revered leaders" and "a man of uncommon decency and grace," noting that he drives a Maruti 800, one of the humblest cars in the Indian market. Eminent Khushwant Singh lauded Dr. Singh as the best prime minister India has had, even rating him higher than Jawaharlal Nehru. He mentions an incident in his book Absolute Khushwant: The Low-Down on Life, Death and Most things In-between where after losing the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, Singh immediately returned the INR2 lakh (US$4,100) he had borrowed from the writer for hiring taxis. Terming him as the best example of integrity, Mr. Khushwant Singh stated, "When people talk of integrity, I say the best example is the man who occupies the country's highest office." [55]

His personal assets amount to five crore rupees(approx 1 million USD).[56]

However his public image was tarnished following a series of scams like 2G spectrum scam, CWG Scam.[57]

Family and personal life

Singh married Gursharan Kaur in 1958. Their three daughters, Upinder Singh, Daman Singh and Amrit Singh, have successful, private-sector, careers.[58]

Upinder Singh is a professor of history at Delhi University. She has written six books, including Ancient Delhi (1999) and A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India (2008).[59] Daman Singh is a graduate of St. Stephen's College, Delhi and Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat, and author of The Last Frontier: People and Forests in Mizoram and a novel Nine by Nine.[60] Amrit Singh is a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.[61]

Singh has undergone multiple cardiac bypass surgeries, the most recent of which took place in January 2009.[62]

Singh and his wife both belong to the Kohli clan,[63][64] though neither uses the name as their surname.

Degrees and posts held

Awards and honours

Year of Award or Honor Name of Award or Honor Awarding Organisation
2010 World Statesman Award Appeal of Conscience Foundation
2005 Top 100 Influential People in the World Time
2002 Outstanding Parliamentarian Award Indian Parliamentary Group
2000 Annasaheb Chirmule Award Annasaheb Chirmule Trust
1999 H.H. Kanchi Sri Paramacharya Award for Excellence Shri R. Venkataraman, The Centenarian Trust
1999 Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi National Academy of Agricultural Sciences
1997 Lokmanya Tilak Award Tilak Smarak Trust, Pune
1997 Justice K.S. Hegde Foundation Award Justice K.S. Hegde Foundation
1997 Nikkei Asia prize for Regional Growth Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc.
1996 Honorary Professorship Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, Delhi
1995 Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award (1994–95) Indian Science Congress Association
1994 Finance Minister of the Year Asiamoney
1994 Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Award (1994–95) Indian Science Congress Association
1994 Elected Distinguished Fellow of the London School of Economics London School of Economics, Centre for Asia Economy, Politics and Society
1994 Elected Honorary Fellow, Nuffield College Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.
1994 Elected Distinguished Fellow of the London School of Economics London School of Economics, Centre for Asia Economy, Politics and Society
1994 Elected Honorary Fellow of the All India Management Association All India Management Association
1993 Finance Minister of the Year Euromoney
1993 Finance Minister of the Year Asiamoney
1987 Padma Vibhushan President of India
1986 Elected National Fellow, National Institute of Education National Institute of Education
1985 Elected President of the Indian Economic Association Indian Economic Association
1982 Elected Honorary Fellow, St. John’s College St. John’s College, Cambridge
1982 Elected Honorary Fellow, Indian Institute of Bankers Indian Institute of Bankers
1976 Honorary Professorship Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
1957 Elected Wrenbury Scholar University of Cambridge, U.K.
1956 Adam Smith Prize University of Cambridge, U.K.
1955 Wright Prize for Distinguished Performance St. John’s College, Cambridge, U.K.
1954 Uttar Chand Kapur Medal, for standing first in M.A. (Economics) Panjab University, Chandigarh{Was then in Hoshiarpur,Punjab}
1952 University Medal for standing first in B.A. (Honors Economics) Panjab University, Chandigarh

Quotations

India happens to be a rich country inhabited by very poor people.
Life is never free of contradictions.
My top most priority is to deal with India's massive social and economic problems, so that chronic poverty, ignorance and disease can be conquered in a reasonably short period of time.
Together with international unity and resolve we can meet the challenge of this global scourge and work to bring about an international law of zero tolerance for terrorism.
Unity and secularism will be the motto of the government. We can't afford divisive polity in India.
Nobody should be allowed to tinker with democracy. We will not discontinue the good works of the past government.
It is a struggle for the minds of the people... No cause justifies recourse to terrorism.

See also


References

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  39. ^ RTI Act: A strong tool to cleanse corruption in India
  40. ^ China becomes India's 2nd largest trade partner
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External links

Official
Other
Political offices
Preceded by
Indraprasad Gordhanbhai Patel
Governor of the Reserve Bank
1982–1985
Succeeded by
Amitav Ghosh
Preceded by
Narasimha Rao
Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission
1985–1987
Succeeded by
Punjala Shiv Shankar
Preceded by
Yashwant Sinha
Minister of Finance
1991–1996
Succeeded by
Jaswant Singh
Preceded by
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Prime Minister of India
2004–present
Incumbent
Chairperson of the Planning Commission
2004–present
Preceded by
Kunwar Natwar Singh
Minister of External Affairs
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Pranab Mukherjee
Preceded by
P. Chidambaram
Minister of Finance
2008–2009

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