Manmohan Singh

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Dr. Manmohan Singh

Appointed PM 22 May 2004
PM Predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee
Date of Birth 26 September 1932
Place of Birth Gah, West Punjab, Pakistan
Political Party Congress (I)
Profession Economist
Tenure Order 14th Prime Minister

Dr. Manmohan Singh (Gurmukhi: ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ, Devanagari: मनमोहन सिंह) is the fourteenth, and current, Prime Minister of India. He was born on 26 September 1932, Gah, West Punjab (now in Pakistan) and is member of the left-of-centre Indian National Congress party. A Sikh by faith, Singh was sworn in on May 22, 2004.

Singh is an economist by training, and has formerly served in the International Monetary Fund. He was educated at Nuffield College, Oxford, St John's College, Cambridge and Punjab University; he holds a doctorate in economics from Oxford.

A rather low-key politician, Manmohan Singh enjoys a "squeaky clean" image and was advisor to opposition chief Sonia Gandhi throughout the election campaign in 2004 and their time in the opposition. Singh's elevation to the prime minister came when Sonia Gandhi refused to take the top job in order to quell the opposition she would have faced on account of her Italian ancestry.

Singh has been married since 1958; he and his wife have three daughters.


Economic Reforms

Singh is regarded as the architect of India's original economic reform programme which was enacted in 1991 when Singh was finance minister. Serving in the government of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, the economic liberalization package pushed by that government opened the nation to foreign direct investment and reduced the red tape promulgated by the Indian government. Many see this is as the first of a series of economic liberalizations throughout the 1990s and 2000s that have raised India's growth rates substantially.

Although his economic policies - which included the reduction of several redundant socialist policies - were widely popular, especially among the middle class, Singh lost his seat to the Lok Sabha from South Delhi in 1999. He was also a member of the Rajya Sabha from Assam since 1991 and the upper house leader of the opposition from 1998 - 2004 when India was governed by the right-of-center Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP.

Ascent to Power

Singh served as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India in the late 1980s, and was elevated to finance minister in 1991 by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, who was aware of an acute economic crisis due to decades of stagnant socialist policies. The Indian government was prepared to mortgage its gold reserves to the Bank of England in order to obtain the cash reserves needed to run the country.

The reform package enacted by Rao's government -- Singh and other top advisers shared in much of the credit -- successfully brought foreign direct investment (FDI) into the nation, staving off a balance of payments crisis and allowing for foreign exchange reserves to be rebuilt. The package was extended after limits on FDI were made permanent, and after much of the red tape that previously hampered business operation was not reenacted.

Rao's government, despite its economic liberalization policies, was defeated in the next election because Rao and other top ministers were widely seen as corrupt. Singh, however, was able to escape with minimal harm to his reputation as a reformer.

Singh stayed with the Congress Party despite continuous marginalization and defeats in the elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999. He did not join the rebels in a major split which occurred in 1999, when many major Congress leaders objected to Sonia Gandhi's rise as Congress President and Leader of the Opposition. Being touted as the Congress choice for the PM's job, she became a target for nationalists who objected to her Italian birth. It seemed that a party which turned to old links to the Nehru family and a foreigner for political leadership had no future or potential to look forward to. But Singh continued as a prominent leader, rising in confidence and helping to revamp the party's platform and organization.

The Congress alliance won a surprisingly high number of seats in the Parliamentary elections of 2004, owing to a nationwide disenchantment of millions of poorer citizens with the BJP's focus on the surging middle-class, and also its dismal record in handling religious tensions. The Left Front decided to support a Congress alliance government from outside in order to keep the "communal forces" out of power. Sonia Gandhi was elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and was expected to become the Prime Minister but in a surprise move, declined to accept the post and instead nominated Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. There were protests within the Congress about her refusal but eventually people accepted her decision and the allies too accepted her choice. Singh secured the nomination for prime minister on May 19, 2004 when President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam officially asked him to form a government. Although most expected him to head the Finance Ministry himself, he did not do so. His political mentor Sonia Gandhi retains absolute control over the MPs and organization of the Congress Party.

His appointment is notable as it comes 20 years after India witnessed significant tensions between the Indian central government and the Punjabi Sikh community. After Congress Party Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the mother-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, ordered central government troops to storm the Golden Temple (the holiest site in Sikhism) in Amritsar, Punjab to quell a separatist movement, she was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. The result was a tremendous nationwide crisis in which many innocent Sikhs were murdered in riots.

Tenure as Prime Minister

Mexican president Vicente Fox and Manmohan Singh
Mexican president Vicente Fox and Manmohan Singh

Singh has been Prime Minister for little over a year, and presides a fairly popular government. His self-composed image is of an intellectual, a political leader of integrity (a prevalent stereotypical public perception denounces most national bureaucracies as corrupt and tainted), compassionate and attentive to common people, and a recognised technocrat. Although legislative achievements have been few and the Congress-led alliance is routinely hampered by conflicts and scandals, Singh's administration has focused on reducing the fiscal deficit, providing debt-relief to poor farmers, extending social programs and advancing the pro-industry economic and tax policies that have launched the country on a major economic expansion course since 2002. Being a Sikh from a secular-socialist party, Singh has been the image of the Congress campaign to defuse religious tensions and conflicts and bolster political support from minorities like Muslims, Christians, and of course, Sikhs.

The Prime Minister's foreign policy has been to continue the new peace process with Pakistan initiated by his predecessor, Atal Behari Vajpayee. Exchange visits by top leaders from both countries have highlighted this year, as has reduced terrorism and increased prosperity in the state of Kashmir. The peace process has also been used by the government to build stronger relations with the United States, China and European nations.

But the Government suffered a setback when it lost the support of a key ally, Russia, for its bid for a permanent membership to the U.N. Security Council with veto privileges. Plans to expand the Council and reform the U.N. did not empower the nation's role as an Asian leader, although foreign leaders and its own hail it as the next Asian economic and strategic giant; Albeit, after all, representing 1/6 of the global population and, measured by the PPP, the fourth largest economy in the world. Media reports usually cite India as Asia's third largest economy (after Japan and China), as the more conventional measure of "nominal GDP" is used to compute this ranking.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram
Defence Pranab Mukherjee
External Affairs K. Natwar Singh
Home Affairs Shivraj Patil
Petroleum and Natural Gas Mani Shankar Aiyar
Civil Aviation Praful Patel
Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath
Human Resource Development Arjun Singh
Agriculture, Consumer Affairs Sharad Pawar
Science and Technology Kapil Sibal
Communications and IT Dayanidhi Maran
Law and Justice H. R. Bhardwaj
Parliamentary Affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad
I&B , Culture S. Jaipal Reddy
Comapany Affairs Prem Chand Gupta
Tourism Renuka Chowdhury
Statistics & Program Implementation Oscar Fernandes
Urban Employment Kumari Selja
Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss
Shipping, Highways T. R. Baalu
Food Processing Industries S. K. Sahay
Overseas Indian Affairs Jagdish Tytler
Rural Development Raghuvansh P. Singh
Water Resources P. R. Dasmunshi
Power P. M. Sayeed
Textiles Shankersinh Vaghela
Social Justice & Empowerment Meira Kumar
Non-Conventional Energy Vilas Muttemwar
Heavy Industries & PSEs Santosh Mohan Dev
Chemicals, Fertilizers, Steel Ram Vilas Paswan
Small Scale Industries Mahavir Prasad
Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav
Mines Sish Ram Ola
Labour and Employment K. C. Rao
Tribal Affairs, Doner P. R. Kyndiah
Environment and Forests A. Raja


Manmohan Singh with Condoleezza Rice.
Manmohan Singh with Condoleezza Rice.


Preceded by:
I. G. Patel
Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
Succeeded by:
A. Ghosh
Preceded by:
Atal Behari Vajpayee
Prime Minister of India
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent
Preceded by:
P V Narasimha Rao
Deputy chairperson of the planning commission of India
Succeeded by:
P. Shiv Shanker
Preceded by:
Yashwant Sinha
Finance ministers of India
Succeeded by:
Jaswant Singh
Preceded by:
Atal Behari Vajpayee
Chairperson of the planning commission of India
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

External links

Prime Ministers of India

NehruNandaShastriI. GandhiDesaiC. C. SinghR. GandhiV. P. SinghShekharRaoVajpayeeGowdaGujralM. Singh

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