It is very tempting to compare the first Congress Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (Editorial, “Dr. Singh bows out,” May 14). Nehru was possibly the only Prime Minister of class living up to the role of an “elite of calling.” All Prime Ministers thereafter acted only as politicians and even “enlarged on many of Nehru’s flaws.”
Dr. Singh found out rather painfully that politics and intellectual life function on the basis of different principles. “A bad intellectual and a good politician have one feature in common: for both, everything is negotiable.”
I was an employee of the RBI and Dr. Singh was the Governor for a brief period. In this role, he was simplicity personified, and anyone could meet him in his room. His car never sported a red beacon. He was always graceful and never harsh. It is unfortunate that he fell into the web of politics and became easy prey for politicians. He is free now but has retired hurt.
Many of the initiatives of UPA-I/-II were path-breaking and it is a pity that voters appear to have ignored them. Why these were never communicated to the public is another story. If the Indian economy is still intact, one has to thank Dr. Manmohan Singh for it.
I read a piece somewhere that said Dr. Singh often burned the midnight oil, discharging his duties with punctilious care and meeting obligations with forthright earnestness. He proved the fact that great men never lose their balance even in the most adverse circumstances. His modesty, humility, integrity, progressive and clear vision in projects are to be admired. He was surely “the leader other leaders love.” It is unfortunate that he hardly spoke out.
One disagrees with BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s statement that Dr. Singh was a wise man but a poor leader (May 14). The BJP can say what it wants as it probably cannot digest the fact that “a weak PM” stayed on for 10 years. Dr. Singh was the Prime Minister in UPA-I but became an accidental Prime Minister in UPA-II.
K.R. Viswanathan Pillai,
One experiences mixed feelings. As the hero of economic reforms, the defender of inclusive economic growth, a rights-based social sector programme and a great image-builder of India in the world arena, he was unparalleled. But the multiple scams dented his image.
If he was seen as being more decisive and less tolerant to corruption, Dr. Singh’s era could have been one of the best prime ministerial tenures India has ever had.
Merely being good does not make one an effective leader. Dr. Singh either lacked authority or he seldom wanted to be an assertive one. He had ample and sound grounds to bow out earlier, and it has been an surprise that he chose to carry on and with diminished authority. It dwarfed the office he held and left his well-wishers disappointed. His admirers would like to remember him as an astute Finance Minister.
Dr. Manmohan Singh’s run-of-the-mill response to corruption, making a pretence at first of his government having been very upfront and, later, when pushed to the wall, professing helplessness and ignorance by taking refuge in the morals of delegation of decision-making and coalition dharma are responsible for his fall from grace. Equally infamous was the way in which his government chose to handle Team Anna.
The Prime Minister was “an ineffectual angel beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.” It is a pity that this brilliant economist was not in a position to be able to translate his vision into reality. One would like to believe that he was a man in charge of his destiny and not one who danced to the tunes of someone else.
He will be remembered thus: as the architect of reforms and of an exclusive nuclear deal that had the world showing great respect for India, but as a Prime Minister who closed his eyes to corruption.
In the end, he became a sort of punching bag in the wake of innumerable scams and insults heaped on him by his party and the Opposition. I am reminded of what Napoleon said: “The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people.” But Dr. Singh remained a lotus, always clean, pure, honest and decent.
Whatever be his academic and professional credentials as an economist, Dr. Singh will be remembered for being the only Prime Minister who was at the receiving end of scathing remarks by the Supreme Court and also oblivious to corruption.
Madan Menon Thottasseri,