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“I am a small person put in this big chair”. The lines if spoken by any other man would have been taken as a sign of humbleness, down to earth attitude. Instead, as fate would have it, this was said by Dr Manmohan Singh when he was appointed the Prime Ministers of India in 2006.
Let us start with the subject of education. We keep complaining how most of the politicians are barely school passouts and that we need learned men representing us. This man’s economics education includes an undergraduate degree in 1952, a masters in 1954 from PU, an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University in 1957 and a Doctorate from Oxford University Nuffield College thereafter.
Manmohan Singh’s political career came in spotlight in 1991 when he was appointed the Finance Minister. At that time Narsimha Rao was the Prime Minister, and if you can recall, India was at the verge of bankruptcy.
Manmohan Singh proposed the economic reform programme under Rao’s administration and many see this move as the onset of economic liberalizations in India. For those who under numbers, here is a brief recap – back then India’s foreign exchange reserve was barely a billion dollar; you can compare it to today’s forex reserves of over 145 billion dollars.
Manmohan Singh proved to be an undoubtedly good economist.
Soon after, Rao’s government lost in the next elections and the following years saw continuous marginalizations and defeats. A major split happened in 1999 in which Manmohan Singh chose not to be a part of the rebels and stayed loyal to the party. Out of the numerous netas we see changing parties as often as they change their evening dress; Singh was one of the stable and loyal ones.
It was quite evident when Congress won the elections in 2004 and Sonia Gandhi chose him to be the Prime Minister that there were certain qualities like trustworthiness and loyalty that encouraged her to take the decision. Though many chose to dub this as making him a puppet whose strings are drawn by the lady, we will not comment on any of that here.
Unlike many other Prime Ministers of the past, Singh has not highlighted any of his social and political moves. His silence is the one shown by a man indifferent to public opinion. The very qualities of loyalty, humility, uncorrupted; became his weakest points as he has been time and again projected to be too loyal and indifferent to make a strong move on his own. Moreover, over the past few years, there have been growing unrest among the coalition government members.
Suddenly we see an American Daily labeling him as silent and tragic. And our ever hungry media milks this piece of news to the fullest. On a recent debate on one of the news channels, a Congress member calmly said that a Prime Minister who gave more than 87 speeches in a year cannot be called silent. And when asked by the channel host why the PM Office has demanded an apology from the American Daily (Washington post), the reply was curt and understandable “The news published was unethical”. Also, a very strange point has been put up that the PM has been called many impolite things like silent and underachiever by many Indian magazines and newspapers, but the PMO never reacted; and now that a foreign media has said something bad, they are getting furious. To this also the answer was an obvious one, it is not the PMO but the media that chose to do so. Hundreds of articles are written everyday by different countries on Indian Politics, but when the Indian media chooses to glorify one such news in particular for its own benefits, it badly hurts the reputation of the country.
A country where people do not have faith in their own leader, chooses to swoon over negative news, cannot understand the importance of elections, are irresponsible in their own duties towards the country; how can such a country expect to get any respect from others?
Like I said in a previous article on Modi, I am an apolitical person. But I understand the basics of human mind and politics. Politics is a term representing the system that is running the people who have elected them. India being one of the best examples of a democracy, the fact that its leaders have turned out to be incapable and underachiever is as much our fault as theirs. The next time you say “Our Prime Minister is not upto the mark”, say it with regret and accept that it is equally your fault. Manmohan Singh was once a great economist. How he turns out to be as a Prime Minister can only be judged by seeing the turn of the events.
A food for thought – Did you exercise your Right to Vote last time?