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Manmohan Singh Leaves A Legacy Of Achievements & Failures

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Manmohan Singh, the economist credited with playing a key role in ushering in economic reforms in the 1990s, demits office of Prime Minister after 10 years, leaving a mixed legacy of achievements and failures.

Scams that surfaced during UPA II may have undone the good work of the 81-year-old leader, who had achieved the distinction of serving two continuous full terms as Prime Minister, only one to do so after the first PM Jawaharlal Nehru's 17 years in office.

After tomorrow's (16 May) counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections in which the UPA is projected by exit polls to suffer a defeat, Singh will tender his resignation on Saturday (17 May).

A celebrated economist, he entered politics at the height of the 1991 economic crisis when late Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao inducted him into the government as Finance Minister.

Together they lifted the economy out of the balance of payments crisis and then paved the way for the economic reforms on which no successive government has looked back.

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 Prime Minister.

Taking over as Prime Minister from the NDA government in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots and a surcharged communal atmosphere, Singh's administration brought in a sense of balance in the situation.

Born on September 26, 1932 in Gah village of Pakistan's Punjab province, Singh held several key positions like Economic Adviser to the government and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission before being catapulted to the position of the Prime Minister in 2004.

When Congress was in a position to form government at the Centre after the 2004 Lok Sabha polls with the help of several other parties, nobody expected Singh to become the Prime Minister as the party chief was the natural claimant for the post.

However, Gandhi threw a surprise at the last minute by proposing the name of Singh for Prime Ministership which was reluctantly endorsed by the party members.

He went on to head the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as the 14th Prime Minister and its success probably made Sonia Gandhi to give him another term starting 2009.

His first five-year tenure was marked by major initiatives like MNREGA and RTI. The highlight of that term was also the strong stand that the normally soft-spoken Singh took on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in the face of strong opposition by the Left parties, which were then part of his government.

Putting his foot down on the issue, Singh asserted that he will not go back on the international commitment even if it means the fall of his government.

Left parties did withdraw support to his government but it survived in the confidence vote with the help of Samajwadi Party and BSP.

Besides working for stronger ties with the US, Singh's personal commitment to maintaining peaceful ties with Pakistan helped keep bilateral relations on track.