– writes Dr. Sukhbir Singh Kapoor, Vice Chancellor of World Sikh University London
The Independent India has had many Prime Ministers, popular and un-popular, successful and un-successful.
Dr. Manmohan Singh the 14th Prime Minister of India stands out amongst all of them. In every respect, call it education, honesty, devotion, dedication, commitment and gentleness, he has no match. A world renowned Economist and Banker, the Highest Qualified global leader, he turned over the economic crisis of India as the Finance Minister and saved India from possible bankruptcy. During his tenure as Prime Minister, the Economic Growth rate also touched 9.2% when the average world growth rate was -0.7%
In ten years of his service, he brought glory and respect to India. All world powers recognized the potential of India under his tenure. His speeches were quoted by many heads of states. Barack Obama, the President of USA once said, “When you speak, the world listens”, others said “After a long time India has an apt Economist to guide its economic affairs.”
His foreign policy made all world counties close friends of India. USA, European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan came very close to India and many important business deals were signed by the business corporations between India and these countries.
When considering Dr. Singh’s achievement at home, one must not forget that he was leading a very difficult coalition Government with unprecedented pulls and push by the different parties, who never wanted him to succeed. The second important point was the calculated disruption in the functioning of the parliament by the opposition parties. A news report from Indian Express is quoted here under to support this statement:
‘(Indian) Parliamentary democracy is facing its latest threat. The near-lack of debate, which is the raison d’être of Parliament, has been conspicuous by its absence. The decline in the hours spent in constructive work has been all but missing almost throughout the 15th Lok Sabha (2010-2014), with disruptions and adjournments stalling majority of the legislative business.
The 15th Lok Sabha met for the last time in the Winter Session held in February. The session saw extensive disruptions. Both houses were able to work for less than 30% of their scheduled time. The session ended on a low note with a Member of Parliament (MP) using a pepper spray in Lok Sabha. Seventeen MPs were suspended by the speaker for grave disorder.”
Indian Express: Published: 15th September 2013, Last Updated: 10th May 2014 02:50 PM
Despite these gauche constraints, Dr. Manmohan Singh worked with his inherent calm and cool and his government was able to enact and pass some of most important laws to help the economy of the country. A mention must be made of the following:
Indo-USA Nuclear Deal: Not withstanding pulls and pressures from allies, especially the left parties and Mamta Bannerji’s All India Trinamool Congress, Dr. Manmohan Singh displayed considerable determination to go ahead with the deal, and on his success, the people of India, with joy played the popular song of the times: ‘Singh is King’. In layman’s terms, this deal means that the India and USA can now engage in nuclear trade, and cooperate on major international security issues.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005: The act guarantees 100 days wages to adults.
Right to Information Act: The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives people the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations.
National Food Security Act 2013: The act aims to subsidies good grains for approximately two third of India’s 1.2 billion people.
Reforms Foreign Direct Investment: FDI, unfazed by political opposition, government announced big bang reforms. India has marked its presence as one of the fastest growing economies of the world. It has been ranked among the top 3 attractive destinations for inbound investments, and Dr. Singh’s government opened doors for such investment.
The mobile telephony was opened for private participation, and subscribers crossed 100 million.
Rural Health Mission: The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) is an initiative undertaken by Dr. Singh’s government to address the health needs of underserved rural areas.
Unique Identification Authority: It is an attached office of the Planning Commission of India, established to issue a Unique Identification Number (“Aadhaar”) to residents of India
Many important mergers and acquisition also took place in this period. Tata Steel won their bid for acquiring Anglo-Dutch metals company Corus and became world’s 5th largest steel giant.
The Economic growth figures of 10 years of his regime also tell a very positive story. The growth rate remained above 8% (better than many developed world economies, in that period of time) in the years: 2005-2006-2007-2008 and 2009-2011. In earlier years it was: 1999-5.5%, 2002-4.3%.
Due to rise in world fuel prices and expensive imported raw material, the inflation rate fluctuated between 4,2% in 2004 to an average of 8.60 percent between 2012-2015. The Unemployment fell from 9.4% in 2010 to 4.9% in 2014. The economy grew stronger and stronger.
Dr. Singh, the epitome of honesty and sincerity was born in Gah village, now in Pakistan. It is a small village in Chakwal district, 100km (62.5 miles) south-west of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and has been firmly under the media glare ever since Dr. Singh became the Prime Minister.
Journalists have been visiting in droves to see for themselves the place where India’s leader was born in 1932.
Gah’s primary school still has the register (shown below) in which the name of Manmohan Singh, son of Sikh businessman Gurmukh Singh, was recorded in 1937. That time his nickname was Mohana.
For the first 12 years of his life he lived in Gah, a village which had no electricity, no school, no hospital, no piped drinking water. He walked for miles every day to school and studied at night in the dim light of a kerosene lamp.
His student carrier after partition of India started from Amritsar and ended in Cambridge (UK) 1957 and Oxford (UK) in 1962. Throughout his academic career he stood first in his class and won many scholarships.
First scholarship he won was to go to Cambridge University to do his Master’s in Economics, and another scholarship helped him to complete his PhD at Oxford University. He also won the coveted Adam Smith Prize in Economics for his outstanding academic record.
No country in the world has or had a more qualified head of government. Manmohan Singh’s life is a record of excellence and merit. His life will always be an inspiration to young people who want to work hard and achieve something based on their learning. [Sanjay Baru 09 Sep 2013]
He was a very shy and introvert student both in school and in University, and did not mix with fellow students. He once told Mark Tully, the famous BBC correspondent, that throughout his stay in Cambridge he used to bathe with cold water because the moment hot water was available in the hostel all the other students would come in to bathe and he felt shy and would go at the end. It is this shy boy who became the darling of his Professors because of his academic brilliance and gentle nature.
Dr. Manmohan Singh’s experience in the financial field is also enormous and vast. He has successfully chaired the following posts before coming into politics and joining the Government first as Finance Minister and then as the Prime Minister:
- Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, India
- Economic Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Trade, India
- Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission
- Governor Reserve Bank of India
- Secretary, Ministry of Finance
- Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics and Punjab University
Dr. Singh is a religious, dutiful and pious person by nature. For his calm nature, perhaps, he has followed the Guru’s dictum as below:
He gave more importance to his work rather than making unnecessarily noise and shouting in the Parliament. Like many parliamentarian he never out-cried at others nor did he lose his calm when others were shouting and taunting him. He kept his calm and cool at all times.
To change the mood of the parliament, many a times he recited Urdu couplets. Three of his sayings, in the parliament, are recorded hereunder:
- Hazaaron jawaabon se achchhee hai merii Khamoshii
na jaane kitne sawaalon kee aabroo rakkhee.
duayein diijiye biimaar ke tabassum ko,
mizaaj puuchhne waalon kii aabruu rakh lii.
[My being quiet is better than shouting; who knows whose respect I have been saving; don’t think that the sufferer is better, if he smiles, for his smile may be deceptive. It was only to give respect to the carers]
2. Maana ki tere deed ke kaabil nahin hoon main, tu mera shaunk dekh, mera intezar dekh.
[ I agree I am not worth your looking at me; but see my keenness, my anticipation.]
3. Kuchch aisae bhi manzar hein tareekh ki nazron mein
Lamhae nae khata ki, sadion nae saza paee.
[History has recorded such incidents, wherein a little slip was punished for years].
Dr. Singh was popular amongst his students in the University when he was as a student and later as a Professor. He was also admired by his colleagues in government for his poise, dignity, composure, self confidence and gentleness.
By nature he is soft spoken and respects all high and low. He is not a bully like many parliamentarians who make unnecessary noise, abuse, use uncivilised language, throw chairs on each other and act foul. He has never abused anyone; he has never insulted anyone. He is an example of his own. He is a role model of all. His name will be written in golden letters in the pages of history. He is, indeed, my Hero.
Dr. Manmohan Singh has been praised and honoured by many top world leaders. His honesty, humility and knowledge are his main assets. A few observations, from news media are posted here under to highlight Dr. Singh’s stature and personality:
‘In the rarest of the rare gesture, US President Barack Obama personally walked down to the White House portico to see off Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after a meeting with him at the Oval Office today. Those familiar with the strict White House protocol said that this is rarest of the rare gesture by the President, which they have not seen in the recent past.
Officials in the past have noted that Mr Obama has great respect for the Prime Minister not only as a great leader and a statesman but also as an economist. The two leaders have enjoyed a great personal equation [NDTV: All India | Press Trust of India | September 28, 2013]’
‘Putin: Dr. Manmohan Singh is a personal friend. He is a great statesman and leader.
Media in India feel Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia has further strengthened relations between the two nations. [BBC News 22 October 2013]’
‘David Cameron: So why is your country important for Britain’s future? The most obvious reason is economic. There is still a development road to travel, but thanks to the reform process begun by Dr Manmohan Singh, the Indian tiger has been un-caged and its power can be felt around the world.’
Other World Leaders: ‘Dr. Manmohan Singh is one of the most brilliant leaders in the world and is well regarded for his academic work and for his quiet, down-to-earth personality….both traits which are quite rare among politicians.’
‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Prime Minister Modi has congratulated his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh on receiving one of Japan’s top national awards.
“Matter of joy & pride that Japan has conferred Dr. Manmohan Singh with Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers. Congrats to him,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
Dr Singh, 82, is the first Indian to receive the award. He was presented the award, by Japanese Emperor Akihito today for his “significant contribution to the enhancement of relations and promotion of friendship” between Japan and India for about 35 years. [NDTV Updated: November 05, 2014]’
‘Manmohan Singh’s intent on building bridges with Pakistan was never in doubt,” Wilson John, the vice president of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, said by email. “In fact, for most of his tenure, Mr. Singh pursued his Pakistan goals with an uncharacteristic passion.”
“India-Pakistan relations under Manmohan Singh have been remarkably cordial, and I think this has much to do with Mr. Singh himself,” Michael Kugelman, the senior South Asia associate at the Wilson Center, a research institute, said by email.[New York Times: April 28, 2014]’
‘Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in his hand-written letter has expressed his admiration for Dr Singh’s leadership and helping in fostering better relations between the two countries,’
Dr. Manmohan Singh is, indeed, a great leader, un-parallel in world history.
Dr. Sukhbir Singh Kapoor OBE,
D Litt, Ph.D. M.A. (law), M.Com, FCMA, FCCA, CGMA,
Vice Chancellor, World Sikh University London.