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Manmohan Singh Named 2007 "Policy Maker of the Year"

by IAIN DALE

 

Prime Minister Sardar Manmohan Singh has been named the 2007 "Policy Maker of the Year" by The World Leadership Forum. The citation reads:

 

An economist by profession, Singh was Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982 to 1985. He served as Finance Minister under Narasimha Rao from 1991 to 1996, and was Leader of the Opposition in India's Upper House from 1998 to 2004.

Following the 2004 elections, Sonia Gandhi formed a new coalition government. As parliamentary leader of the largest party (Congress), she was expected to become Prime Minister herself, but finally appointed Singh. The move surprised many because of long-standing tensions between India's Sikhs and the central government.

Prior to 1991, India had a planned economy modelled on socialist principles. Enterprise was governed by a complex system of licences, taxes and regulations, which deterred foreign investment and stifled competition. As Finance Minister, Singh began a programme of economic reform and liberalisation which led to rapid and sustained economic growth. Since becoming Prime Minister, his administration has reduced fiscal deficits, provided debt-relief to poor farmers, and implemented many social programmes. Singh has also worked to defuse religious tensions between the Hindu population and minorities including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.

The investment bank Goldman Sachs recently predicted that India could be the world's fifth largest economy within a decade, and second only to China by mid-century.

The World Leadership Forum's annual "Policymaker of the Year" Award is given to a living individual who has created, inspired or strongly influenced important policy or legislation. The nationality or domicile of candidates has no influence on the outcome; the sole criterion is the quality of leadership shown.

Conversation about this article

1: Jag Singh (Birmingham, England), November 26, 2007, 4:35 AM.

Manmohan Singh is an ambassador for the Sikhs, not just for the Indian nation. Through his intellectual prowess and cool demeanour, he has served to bring his country to the fore and serve warning to well-established economies. As an alumni of Cambridge University, he could have created a career of note in any Western land, earning lots of money in the process. But this true Sikh had only one noble ambition - to serve his people and help them realise their potential. Sardar Manmohan Singh will go down in the annals of history, not just as a supreme economist, but as a great human being.

2: R.S. (Fremont, CA, U.S.A.), November 28, 2007, 7:44 PM.

I don't know much about policymaking or running a country; maybe Manmohan Singh is a great policymaker and/or statesman. I do know, however, that for Sikhs, he has not been good. For example, he defended the anti-Sikh genocidal campaigns of the Indian state at a U.N. forum, while Sikhs were being tortured and killed even as he spoke and on a daily basis, in the early '90s. There are many such instances where he has let us down.

3: Bhinder Singh (Lathrop, U.S.A.), November 29, 2007, 12:19 AM.

There is a old Chinese proverb: "I want my stomach to be full, not my head." Manmohan Singh is a great ambassador for the Sikhs if we want our head to be full. One of the first things he did as prime minister was to appoint Jagdish Tytler as NRI minister. He could have been our ambassador if he introduced the Anand Marriage Act ... The list of his errant actions and omissions is long!

4: Prabhu Singh Khalsa (Española, New Mexico, U.S.A.), December 02, 2007, 10:11 AM.

Aside from his failure at delivering justice to Sikhs in India, his economic model is dangerous and wildly unsustainable. This so called "liberalisation" will lead to the type of problems seen prominently in the United States, where gigantic corporate entities own all leading government officials (through their financial backing). Some people in India may be getting rich, but the poor and the earth are suffering greatly. The only thing I can appreciate about Manmohan Singh is that he is often described as "polite," which is a good quality for Sikhs to be known as.

5: Amir Singh (New Jersey, U.S.A.), December 02, 2007, 8:40 PM.

I feel immense pride in seeing S. Manmohan Singh single-handedly lead India from being a third-world country, all the way into the halls of power. It is true that the situation is ironical: a country that betrayed its own saviours and elite community is now once again being saved by a member of that very community. It is true the land doesn't deserve him. But it's always been the seva assigned to the Sikh community, and we should gladly accept it. As for why he doesn't do much vis-a-vis 1984, the answer is simple: He has taken on the role of leader of all of India, not just of the Sikhs. That comes with some clear limitations. Let's leave him alone and let him do his job!

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