Manmohan Singh is India’s thirteenth Prime Minister, and a member of the upper house of Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha.
Born: September 26, 1932, Gah, Pakistan
Parents: Gurmukh Singh, Amrit Kaur
Full name: Manmohan Singh
Spouse: Gursharan Kaur (m. 1958)
Office: Prime Minister of India since 2004
Education: St John's College, Cambridge (1956–1957), Panjab University, Chandigarh (1954), Panjab University, Chandigarh (1952), Nuffield College, Oxford, Hindu College, University of Delhi
Children: Amrit Singh, Upinder Singh, Daman Singh
Manmohan Singh is the first Sikh to hold the office of the Prime Minister of India. His calm, graceful and knowledgeable demeanor makes him a standout among the present crop of politicos in the world. Highly educated and scholarly, Dr. Singh is the man who India has looked up to in times of grave crisis. Dr. Manmohan Singh also holds the distinct honor of being the second Prime Minister to return to power following a full five-year term after Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first Prime Minister of Sovereign India.
Birth and Education
Dr. Singh was born on September 26, 1932, to parents Gurmukh Singh and Amrit Kaur, his father and mother respectively. The family lived in undivided India’s Gah village of the Punjab province, which now geographically falls in present day Pakistan. Like thousands of Sikhs at the time, Singh and his family also moved to Amritsar after the partition of India for a better life and promising future prospects. This move proved highly favorable for Manmohan Singh as he went on to pursue a string of educational qualifications from here onwards. Singh first completed his Matriculation from the Punjab University in 1948. Then his academic career took him from Punjab to the University of Cambridge, UK, where he earned a First Class Honors degree in Economics in 1957. Dr. Singh followed this up with a D. Phil in Economics from Nuffield College at Oxford University in 1962.
After pursuing his education to the fullest, Singh performed various thesis and research activities on the economic status quo of India in the late 1960’s. He taught International Trade at the Delhi School of Economics in 1969. Correspondingly, he also worked for the United Nations briefly at this time, following which he was handpicked by Lalit Narayan Mishra as the advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. In the next decade, Dr. Singh found himself at the helm of an array of jobs with the Indian government. Of these, he acted as the Chief Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance in 1972, and the Secretary of the Finance Ministry of India in 1976.
Journey as a Finance Ministry
The 1980’s saw Dr. Singh in a series of brief stints, starting at the Planning Commission from 1980-1982, then as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India until 1985, as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of India till 1987, and finally as the Secretary General of the South Commission till the year 1990.
In June 1991, Dr. Manmohan Singh became the centre of attraction of the world, as then Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao, turned towards Dr. Singh to bail India out of an unprecedented economic crisis. As the newly appointed and intensely scrutinized Finance Minister of India, Singh opened the Indian economy to the world by abolishing License Raj and allowing the privatization and globalization of public sector companies. Though he encountered stiff rebellion while observing a change in the policies and economic laws of the nation, he did manage to turn around India’s fortunes and avert the imminent crisis.
The Prime Ministry
Following his success as the Finance Minister, Singh actively participated in Indian Politics under the flagship of the Indian National Congress. He was first made a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, in 1991. He also contested for a Lok Sabha seat, but had to taste defeat like the whole of Congress Party in the General Assembly elections of 1996.
However, in a dramatic reversal of fortunes, the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) went on to dethrone the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) as the ruling party of the nation. Following this victory, Congress President Sonia Gandhi was widely expected to take oath as the new Prime Minister, but to everyone’s surprise she declined this offer and nominated Singh to the designation of the Prime Minister of India.
After a full five-year term in the PM office, Singh once again returned to power in 2009 as Congress performed a repeat of their 2004 success. Dr. Singh has had two fairly successful terms as the Prime Minister, with major highlights like strengthening of foreign ties, improvement in legislation and infrastructure, subsidies and allowances to farmers, etc.
Allegations and Criticism
Despite many accreditations that came in his way, Singh also has had to deal with a considerable amount of criticism. He’s often been called submissive and docile by many political and apolitical journalists, keeping in mind his reticent and shy nature. There have also been allegations about his involvement in corruption scandals such as the coal-gate scam, the 2G spectrum scan, etc., but these haven’t been proved on paper, or evidentially.
To conclude, it has to be said that Dr. Manmohan Singh is a leader and a political figure, who perhaps has one of the cleanest images in the public eye. Dr. Singh has announced to step down as a politically involved individual after the Lok Sabha elections of 2014.