Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India from 2004 to 2014

Manmohan Singh (Punjabi: ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ; born 26 September 1932) was the 13th Prime Minister of India. Singh, a member of the Indian National Congress party and an economist, became the first Sikh Prime Minister of India on 22 May 2004.

I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media, or for that matter, the Opposition parties in Parliament.

Quotes edit

1991-2000 edit

  • There is no time to lose. Neither the Government nor the economy can live beyond its means year after year. The room for maneuver, to live on borrowed money or time, does not exist any more. Any further postponement of macroeconomic adjustment, long overdue, would mean that the balance of payments situation, now exceedingly difficult, would become unmanageable and inflation, already high, would exceed limits of tolerance.

2001-2005 edit

  • His vision was to industrialize India, to urbanize India, and in the process he hoped that we would create a new society -- more rational, more humane, less ridden by caste and religious sentiments. That was the grand vision that Nehru had.
  • We speak about cooperation but seem hesitant to commit ourselves to a global offensive to root out terrorism, with the pooling of resources, exchange of information, sharing of intelligence, and the unambiguous unity of purpose required. This must change. We do have a global coalition against terrorism. We must give it substance and credibility, avoiding selective approaches and political expediency.
  • If our commitment to remain an open society is one of the pillars of our nationhood, the other is our commitment to remain an open economy. An economy that guarantees the freedom of enterprise, respects individual creativity, and at the same time mobilizes public investment for social infrastructure and the development of human capabilities. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that these are the principles to which all countries will increasingly want to adhere. In relating to the world, we must never lose sight of this vital aspect of our Nationhood.
  • When we talk of a resurgent Asia, people think of the great changes that have come about in Shanghai. I share this aspiration to transform Mumbai in the next five years in such a manner that people would forget about Shanghai and Mumbai will become a talking point.
  • There is no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire had a sound basis for. As the painstaking statistical work of the Cambridge historian Angus Maddison has shown, India's share of world income collapsed from 22.6% in 1700, almost equal to Europe's share of 23.3% at that time, to as low as 3.8% in 1952. Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th Century, "the brightest jewel in the British Crown" was the poorest country in the world in terms of per capita income.
  • I wish President Musharraf well, we want to work with him to bring greater balance in our own relations. But I have to be realistic enough to recognize the role that terrorist elements have played in the last few years in the history of Pakistan. Taliban was the creation of Pakistan extremists, the Wahabi Islam which has flourished, thousands and thousands of schools, the madrassas, were set up to preach this jihad based on hatred of other religions . . . and Pakistan is not a democracy in the sense that we know and you know. . . . We wish Pakistan success in emerging as a moderate Muslim state. We will work with President Musharraf . . . but we have to recognize what has happened.

2006-2010 edit

  • We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruits of development. These must have the first claim on resources.
  • The explosion of financial innovation unaccompanied by credible systemic regulation has made the financial system vulnerable. The resulting crisis of confidence threatens global prosperity in the increasingly interdependent world in which we live. There is, therefore, a need for a new international initiative to bring structural reform in the world's financial system with more effective regulation and stronger systems of multilateral consultations and surveillance. This must be designed in as inclusive a manner as possible.
  • Sikh extremism, separatism and militancy were a problem in India more than two decades ago. Today, Punjab is at peace and there is growth and prosperity. There are, however, some elements outside India, including in Canada, who try to keep this issue alive for their own purposes. In many cases, such elements have links to or are themselves wedded to terrorism.

2011-present edit

About Manmohan Singh edit

  • Singh and I had developed a warm and productive relationship. While he could be cautious in foreign policy, unwilling to get out too far ahead of an Indian bureaucracy that was historically suspicious of U.S. intentions, our time together confirmed my initial impression of him as a man of uncommon wisdom and decency…. What I couldn’t tell was whether Singh’s rise to power represented the future of India’s democracy or merely an aberration.... In fact, he owed his position to Sonia Gandhi…more than one political observer believed that she’d chosen Singh precisely because as an elderly Sikh with no national political base, he posed no threat to her forty-year-old son, Rahul, whom she was grooming to take over the Congress Party... He feared that rising anti-Muslim sentiment had strengthened the influence of India’s main opposition party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)... In the dim light, he (Singh) looked frail, older than his seventy-eight years, and as we drove off I wondered what would happen when he left office. Would the baton be successfully passed to Rahul, fulfilling the destiny laid out by his mother and preserving the Congress Party’s dominance over the ‘divisive nationalism’ touted by the BJP?
    • Barack Obama, , ‘A Promised Land’ 2020
  • I want to write to the Guinness Book of World Records that Manmohan Singh is the only Prime Minister of India among the eleven Prime Ministers that the country had who has not won even a municipal election. What is he going to tell me? Manmohan Singh is a nominated Prime Minister. He is not a representative of the people of India.
  • It's very simple, Dr. Manmohan Singhji in reality is not a leader, and he has himself said that he is not a leader. The nation cannot be ruled by an academician, it can be run only by a leader. What was Indiraji [Indira Gandhi]'s education was never an issue, but she was a leader. (P. V.) Narasimha Rao was a leader. Only those who know the pulse of the nation can run it. Lal Bahadur Shastri knew the pulse of the nation very well, which is why he was able to leave his imprint on the nation in such a short time. Atal Bihari Vajpayee knew the pulse of the nation, Morarjibhai [Morarji Desai] knew the pulse of the nation, Chandra Shekharji was a mass leader. We also had [H. D.] Deve Gowdaji who had never left Karnataka, Indra Kumar Gujralji thankfully never made any claims. Manmohan Singhji is like that. That is why I say the nation needs a leader. Dr. Manmohan Singh has not even visited all the states in the five years of his prime ministership, while Advaniji is a leader who has, at some point in time, spent a night in our 400 districts.

The Accidental Prime Minister (2014) edit

Baru, Sanjaya (2014). The accidental Prime Minister. Penguin India.
  • I am an accidental prime minister.
    • Manmohan Singh
  • But when I went back to him with her acceptance, the PM looked sheepish and informed me that he had already agreed to appoint Syeda Hameed, a Muslim writer and social activist, and so, I was told, there was no place left for Anu. Clearly, the ‘gender’ and ‘minority’ boxes had been filled up with Syeda’s appointment. I was left with the embarrassing task of explaining away the confusion to Anu. What I obviously could not say to her was that the political benefits of rewarding a Muslim may well have trumped those of appointing a Parsi! To my dismay, even Dr Singh seemed to take this embarrassment lightly.
  • The way I saw it, if the Congress had lost, the blame for the defeat would have been placed squarely on the PM’s shoulders. It would be said his obsession with the nuclear deal cost the party the support of the Left and the Muslims. His ‘neo-liberal’ economic policies would have been deemed to have alienated the poor. His attempt to befriend Musharraf would have been regarded as having alienated the Hindu vote. A hundred explanations would have been trotted out to pin the defeat on the PM. Now that the party was back in office, and that too with more numbers than anyone in the party had forecast, the credit would go to the party’s ‘first family’. To the scion and future leader. It was Rahul’s victory, not Manmohan’s.
  • After the elections, Dr Singh did try to be more assertive, taking a view on who would be in his Cabinet and who would not, and resisting the induction of the DMK’s A. Raja and T.R. Baalu, for their unsavoury reputations. Watching from the sidelines, I had hoped he would not buckle under pressure. Dr Singh stood his ground for a day, managed to keep Baalu out, but had to yield ground on Raja under pressure from his own party. To me, it was a reiteration of the message that the victory was not his but the Family’s.
  • Rahul could have urged the government to respond to public opinion and let the PM handle the matter on his return to India from an official visit to the US. Instead, he decided to demand the ordinance’s withdrawal, calling it ‘nonsense’ in front of TV cameras, hours before Dr Singh was to call on President Obama. This public display of disrespect to Dr Singh and disregard for the dignity of the office of the prime minister on a day like this was, I felt, reason enough for Dr Singh to call it quits. He chose not to.
  • He did not deserve this fate. He has many faults, and I have not hesitated to record them in this book. However, he remains not just a good man but, in the final analysis, also a good prime minister. This is especially true of his first term in office. He is, even at his worst, a cut above the competition, be it from within the ruling Congress party, or would-be prime ministers in other parties. No Congress leader—and I include here the party’s leader Sonia Gandhi and its ‘heir apparent’ Rahul Gandhi—can match his unique combination of personal integrity, administrative experience, international stature and political appeal across a wide swathe of public opinion. These qualities were strikingly evident during the first term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, from 2004 to 2009 (UPA-1), with Dr Singh at its helm. However, as bad news, largely a series of financial scandals, tumbled out of the UPA’s second term from 2009 (UPA-2), and the media became hostile, his many talents began to recede from public view. Sadly, his own office became ineffective and lost control over the political narrative.
  • That evening, all TV channels dutifully reported the Congress party’s statement that Rahul had asked the PM to extend NREGA to the entire country, and the next morning’s papers did the same. Only the Indian Express made the additional remark in its dispatch the next day that ‘Sources said that this issue had been on the PMO radar even before Rahul’s elevation to the party post.....

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