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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Dr. Manmohan Singh, the first Sikh Prime Minister was also the first Prime Minister since Jawarharlal Nehru to be re-elected after completing a full-five year term (2004-2014). Both Prime Ministers were well foreign-educated and they proved the best to develop/grow India. Singh carried out several structural reforms that liberalized the Indian economy like dismantling the Licence Raj, opening up the economy, promoting Foreign Direct Investment, and changing the socialist economy to capitalistic. The measures proved successful in averting the crisis and enhanced Singh’s reputation globally as a leading reform-minded economist. Singh’s first ministry executed several key legislations and projects, including the Rural Health Mission, Unique Identification Authority, Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Right to Information Acts, and the civil nuclear agreement with the United States. Sardar Manmohan Singh was not a politician but a technocrat, and a sincere and honest worker. He did not gather money and rather, led a simple life and used his Maruti 800 car. He speaks less but never tells a lie. He believes in work and hardly appears on television for gossiping.

Sardar Manmohan Singh Kohli was born on September 26, 1932, in Gah village, British Punjab into a Sikh family. He did his BA from Hindu College Amritsar in 1952, MA Economic from Punjab University in 1952, and completed his Economics Tripos at the University of Cambridge in 1957. After completing study at Cambridge, Singh returned to India and served as a professor at Punjab University. In 1960, he went to the University of Oxford for D.Phil. He went to work for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 1966-1969. Later, he was appointed as an adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Trade in recognition of Singh’s talents as an economist. Singh was a Professor of international trade at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.

Singh was the chief economic adviser in the Ministry of Finance in 1972.

Secretary in the Finance Ministry in 1976.

Member Planning Commission from 1980-1982.

Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982-1985.

Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission from 1985-1987.

Secretary-General of the South Commission, an independent economic policy think tank headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland from 1987-1990.

Advisory to the Prime Minister of India on economic affairs in 1990 (Tenure of VP Singh).

Chairman of the University Grant Commission in 1991.

In June 1991, India’s Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, choose Singh to be his finance minister. India was facing economic crises. Singh and Chidambaram explained to the party that the economy would collapse if it was not deregulated. Rao allowed Singh to deregulate the Indian Economy.

In 2007, India achieved its highest GDP growth rate (9%) and become the second fastest-growing major economy in the world. Singh’s ministry enacted a National Employment Guarantee Act and the health ministry started the National Rural Health Mission in 2005. In 2006, he implemented the proposal to reserve 27% of seats of AIIMS, IITs, IIMS, and other central institutions of higher education for lower classes. Right to Children Free and Compulsory Education Act was passed on August 4, 2009. Sardar Manmohan Singh continued the pragmatic foreign policy that was started by PV Narasimha Rao and continued by BJP Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Singh continued the peace process with Pakistan initiated by his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and took initiative to solve the border dispute with China. Singh developed good relations with the US, Japan, UK, Germany, France, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, South Africa, Russia, Brazil, etc. Singh continued the highway modernization program, the work of reforming banking and financial sectors as well as private sector companies. In 2005, he introduced the value-added tax replacing complicated sales tax.

Dr. Singh is a revered economist but not a politician. He has never been elected member of Parliament although he was nominated a member of Rajya Sabha six times. Singh’s second ministry government faced a number of corruption charges as over the organization of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the 2G spectrum allocation case, and the allocation of the coal blocks. Perhaps it happened because some senior leaders of Congress interfered in administration. Dr. Singh did not gather money as he has only two flats (one in Chandigarh and one in Delhi). He did not promote his three daughters into politics and they are doing regular jobs like a common person. Dr. Manmohan Singh Kohli got many awards like the Padma Vibhushan in 1987 and the World Statesman Award etc.

India needs well-educated and honest politicians like Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. Manmohan, Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Molana Azad, Janah, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Jagjivan Ram, Dr. Rajinder Prasad, and Dr. Radha Krishna to progress/grow India at a fast rate.

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