On May 17th, Prime Minster Manmohan Singh will be giving his farwell address to the nation, ending his 10 year old role as the Head of the Government under the banner of UPA. Amongst many other qualities, he will also be remembered as the most qualified Prime Minister India has ever had. He was born in a small village in Punjab and went on to get education from such prestigious institutes as Cambridge University and University of Oxford. He will also be remembered as the man who changed India’s economy by opening it up to Foreign Investment and dismantling the license permit raj which had inhibited the rise of Indian entrepreneurs and free market. Indeed, he is perhaps the most celebrated Finance Minister that India has ever had.
Economic Times, has this to say about the legacy that will be left behind by Manmohan Singh and predict how history would remember him:
“History will be kind to Manmohan Singh. It will remember him as the finance minister who launched India’s economic reforms in 1991, and the Prime Minister who presided over 8.5% GDP growth for most of a decade…. people will forget Manmohan Singh’s failings, and remember him as the father of economic reform and superfast growth. This superfast growth persuaded George Bush to offer India a seat in the nuclear club, ending nuclear apartheid.”
Zee news, has this to say about him:
“A technocrat who had occupied various positions including as Reserve Bank Governor and Secretary General of the South-South Commission, he had earned a name for probity and integrity that made him the automatic choice for Sonia Gandhi when she decided to renounced the post of PM…
Notwithstanding pulls and pressures from allies, especially the Left parties, Singh displayed considerable determination to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal and to end the sanctions regime against India even unmindful of the threats to his government.”
One criticism that will always be leveled against his Prime Ministership was his lack of authority on his cabinet and, according to some observers, on many important decisions. This was much more prominent in his second tenure, popularly known as UPA 2. The UPA 2 government was blamed for a series of scams and PM Manmohan Singh himself was embroiled in a scam. He has also been called the weakest PM India ever had by his critics.
Manmohan Singh on Entrepreneurship
The opening up of Indian market in 1991 still remains Manmohan Singh’s biggest contribution to the Indian entrepreneur. With a single stroke, he ushered in an era of innovation and excitement in the Indian industry that had never been witnessed before. It was, therefore, widely believed that his ascendancy to the role of Prime Minister will provide a huge boost to the Indian entrepreneurs and the market which still had regulations that stifled growth. However, if the PM had any intention to bring reform in this space, he didn’t succeed in getting them implemented. That he had intentions to promote the smaller industry can be inferred from his speech to Industry chamber and associations where he emphasized , “”I would urge industry associations and chambers of commerce in India to come forward with innovative solutions to address constraints that still hinder the development of the MSME sector and provide constructive inputs for policy formulation and implementation…Only a fraction of enterprises today has the skills, risk appetite and resources to avail of the opportunities offered by globalisation. We need to change this state of affairs,”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s regime wasn’t how the common man wanted it to be, in fact there are doubts that it was how Manmohan Singh wanted it to be himself. Manmohan Singh will be credit for many achievements – the first Sikh to become the Prime Minister of India, the only Prime Minister besides Jawaharlal Nehru to be reelected to a second term and also as the most qualified person to reach this post. However, it is possible that he may be remembered for completely different reasons which may not be as favorable to him.