How will history remember Dr Manmohan Singh

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With the budget session all set to commence, India waits with anticipation to see what the new government has to offer.

While we need to wait and see what the government has to offer in the upcoming budget, let us not forget Dr Manmohan Singh who as the finance minister of the country introduced dramatic changes between 1991 and 1996 which many term as a Golden Era in Indian economics.

Manmohan Singh

How will history remember Dr Singh? As the finance minister who shaped India's economy or the Prime Minister under whom economic growth fell from 9 per cent to 4 per cent which an average inflation rate of 10 per cent?

When Dr Manmohan Singh accepted the post of Prime Minister, he was fully aware of the pitfalls ahead of him. Pleasing the dynasty, dealing with the whims and fancies of the coalition partners was no easy job, but he still went ahead and accepted the post.

Dr Singh who served two full terms as Prime Minister is referred to as puppet and there were enough and more Twitter jokes on him which often referred to him as Maun Mohan Singh.

How will history remember Manmohan Singh? The man was a seasoned bureaucrat and had respectability for the manner in which he proposed ideas.

Soft spoken and not the run of the mill politician, he wanted change, but was also fully aware that he was even offered the post as he posed absolutely no thereat to the dynasty.

How will history remember Dr Singh?

Under Dr Singh the country witnessed the 2G, CWG, Adarsh and Coal scams. But will he be remembered for this. Ask anyone at this moment and he would refer to Dr Singh who led a government for ten years which was embroiled in one scam after another.

However, one would want to have a look at the other picture as well.

The Americans sat up and took notice of India's super fast growth and this led to them offering India the nuclear deal or in other words ending the nuclear apartheid against India.

Dr Singh could be largely credited with this and history may remember him as the father of economic growth.

This decision to partner with the US on the nuclear deal almost cost him his government. The Left was determined to ensure that the deal did not go through and even withdrew from the government.

However, Dr Singh was adamant and felt that this deal was necessary for future growth. He went on and faced the trust vote and even won.

This one could say was a bold decision on his part, while others may argue that it was possible since he had the backing of the dynasty.

The Dr Singh era:

Dr Singh's contribution to the Indian economy is what history would ultimately remember him by. He started in 1971 as the Economic Advisor to the Commerce Ministry and then was appointed as the Chief Economic Advisor in the Finance Ministry the following year.

The other portfolios he handled were that of Secretary in the Ministry of Finance; Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; advisor of the Prime Minister; and Chairman of the University Grants Commission.

However, his stint as the finance ministry of the country between 1991 and 1996 would be the turning point in India's economic history.

This period changed India's economy and could well be termed as the Manmohan era.

One must remember the message he had sent to former Prime Minister, P V Narasimha Rao. He had said, "we must convert this crisis into an opportunity to build India. There are no foreign lenders willing to finance our current-account deficit. Our foreign exchange had disappeared. We are on the verge of collapse and must convert this crisis into an opportunity to build a new India."

Bold moves by Dr Singh:

He took some extremely bold decisions to shape up the Indian economy. He abolished export subsidies and liberalized India's bureaucratic regime.

He further went on to announce a major reduction in the number of state controlled industrial sectors.

Abolishing of industrial licensing, opening up the telecom, airline and banking sector to private players and removing obstacles for foreign investment were part of the other bold measures.

He was also responsible for reduction of tariffs and taxes and he also went on to cut interest rates.

The disappointment:

However his stint as Prime Minister for ten years is better forgotten. Public memory is still fresh with his stint as Prime Minister.

However, one must not forget that he was appointed PM by Sonia Gandhi for a very wrong reason. He posed no threat to the dynasty and this was the qualification that earned him the post of Prime Minister.

Many would have hoped that he would introduce a host of reforms as PM. However, that was not to be and all he was seen doing was nod his head to what the dynasty had to say. Dr Singh was clearly uncomfortable in handling several issues especially when it came to national security.

He He was seen as weak and his messages especially to Pakistan especially in the aftermath of the the 26/11 lacked punch.

It was clear that here was a man not suited for the job of Prime Minister. Even during an interaction with him it was found that he had free flowing knowledge when it came to economic reforms, but on every other issue including a cabinet re-shuffle he was fumbling in his responses.

The question now is will he be remembered as the man who changed the economy between 1991 and 1996 or will people remember him as the Prime Minister under whom economic growth came down from 9 per cent to 4 per cent which an average inflation rate of 10 per cent.

We can hope that history will be kind on him and as the years pass he will be remembered as the best finance minister the country has ever seen rather than a Prime Minister who warmed the seat before the Royal Prince could take over.

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