Manmohan Singh

Manmohan Singh ( born 26 September 1932) is the 17th and current Prime Minister of the Republic of India. He also serves as the Union Minister for Finance, succeeding P. Chidambaram. He was the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982 to 1985 and held the post of the Finance Minister of India from 1991 to 1996 under Narsimha Rao-led government. Singh belongs to the Indian National Congress party and took oath as the Prime Minister of India on May 22, 2004, becoming the first person of Sikh faith to hold the post.
An economist by profession, Singh has previously worked at organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. During his tenure as the Finance Minister, he was widely credited for initiating economic reforms in India in 1991 which resulted in the end of the infamous Licence Raj system.

Childhood and education

Manmohan Singh was born on 26 September 1932, in Gah, Punjab (now in Chakwal District, Pakistan). After India-Pakistan partition, he migrated to Amritsar from where he went to the Punjab University, Chandigarh to study Economics and attained his bachelor's and master's degree in 1952 and 1954 respectively, standing first throughout his academic career. He went on to get a master's degree from St. John's College, Cambridge University, where he won the Wright's Prize for distinguished performance in 1955 and 1957. He was also one of the few recipients of the Wrenbury scholarship. In 1962, Singh completed his D.Phil from the University of Oxford Nuffield College. His topic of his doctorate thesis was "India’s Export Trends and Prospects for Self-Sustained Growth".

In 1997, the University of Alberta presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws. The University of Oxford awarded him an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in June 2005, and in October 2006, the University of Cambridge followed with the same honor. St John's College and the University of Cambridge further honored him by naming a PhD Scholarship after him, the Dr Manmohan Singh Scholarship.

Early career

After completing his D.Phil, Dr. Singh worked for institutions like the International Monetary Fund, South Centre and the United Nations. During the 1970s, he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and the Finance Ministry of India. He also taught at the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 1982, he was appointed as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and held the post till 1985. He went on to become the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission of India from 1985 to 1987.

Finance Minister of India

In 1991, India's then-Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, chose Singh to be the Finance Minster of India. At the time, India was facing an economic crisis. Rao and Singh decided to open-up the Indian economy and change the socialist economic system to a capitalist economy. The economic reform package included dismantling License Raj that made it virtually impossible for private businesses to exist and prosper, removal of many obstacles for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and initiating the process of the privatization of public sector companies. These economic reforms are credited with bringing high levels of economic growth in India, and changing the annual 3%, to an average of 8-9% economic growth in the following years. However, in spite of these reforms, Rao's government was voted out in 1996.

Career in the Rajya Sabha

Singh was first elected to the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, in 1995 and was re-elected in 2001 and 2007. From 1998 to 2004, while the National Democratic Alliance was in power, Singh was the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. In 1999, he ran for the Lok Sabha from South Delhi but was unable to win the seat.

Prime Ministership

After the 2004 general elections, the Indian National Congress stunned the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) by becoming the political party with the single largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. In a surprise move, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi declared Manmohan Singh, a technocrat, as the UPA candidate for the Prime Minister post. Despite the fact that Singh had never won a Lok Sabha seat, his considerable goodwill and Sonia Gandhi's nomination won him the support of the UPA allies and the Left Front.
During his tenure, Singh's administration has focused on reducing the fiscal deficit, providing debt-relief to poor farmers, extending social programs and advancing the pro-industry economic and tax policies that have launched the country on a major economic expansion course since 2002. However, his government has been criticized for not carrying forward the momentum in economic reforms that was initiated by the previous NDA government.

Foreign Policy

Manmohan Singh and the External Affairs ministry have continued the pragmatic foreign policy that was started by P.V. Narasimha Rao and was continued by BJP's Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Prime Minister has continued the peace process with Pakistan initiated by his predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Exchange of high-level visits by top leaders from both countries have highlighted his tenure, as has reduced terrorism and increased prosperity in the state of Kashmir. Efforts have been during Singh's tenure to end the border dispute with People's Republic of China. In November 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India which was followed by Singh's visit to Beijing in January 2008. A major development in Sino-Indian ties was the reopening of the Nathula Pass in 2006 after being closed for more than 4 decades. In 2007, People's Republic of China became the biggest trade partner of India, with bilateral trade expected to surpass US$60 billion by 2010. Relations with Afghanistan have also improved considerably, with India now becoming the largest regional donor to Afghanistan. During Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to New Delhi in August 2008, Manmohan Singh increased the aid package to Afghanistan for the development of more schools, health clinics, infrastructure, and defense.

Singh's government has worked towards stronger ties with the United States. He visited the United States in July 2005 initiating negotiations over the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. This was followed by George W. Bush's successful visit to India in March 2006, during which the declaration over the nuclear agreement was made, giving India access to American nuclear fuel and technology while India will have to allow IAEA inspection of its civil nuclear reactors. After more than two years for more negotiations, followed by approval from the IAEA, Nuclear Suppliers Group and the US Congress, India and the U.S. signed the agreement on October 10, 2008.
During Singh's tenure as India's Prime Minister, relations have improved with Japan and European Union countries, like the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Relations with Iran have continued and negotiations over the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline have taken place. New Delhi hosted an India-Africa Summit in April 2006 which was attended by the leaders of 15 African states. Relations, have improved with other developing countries, particularly Brazil and South Africa. Singh carried forward the momentum which was established after the "Brasilia Declaration" in 2003 and the IBSA Dialogue Forum was formed.
Manmohan Singh's government has also been especially keen on expanding ties with Israel. Since 2003, the two countries have made significant investments in each other and Israel now rivals Russia to become India's defense partner. Though there have been a few diplomatic glitches between India and Russia, especially over the delay and price hike of several Russian weapons to be delivered to India, relations between the two remain strong with India and Russia signing various agreements to increase defense, nuclear energy and space cooperation.

Economic Policy

Dr. Singh, along with Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, have presided over a period, where the Indian economy, has grown with an 8-9% economic growth rate. Dr. Singh, has focused on reducing the budget deficit. In June 2007, India became a trillion dollar economy. As prime minister, Dr. Singh, has continued the economic reforms, that he, and P.V. Narasimha Rao, started in 1991, and were continued by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Dr. Singh's government, has continued the Golden Quadrilateral, and the highway modernization program, that was initiated by Mr. Vajpayee's government. Dr. Singh, has also been working on reforming the banking and financial sectors, and has been working towards reforming public sector companies. The Finance ministry, Dr. Singh, and his government, has been working towards relieving farmers of their debt, and has been working towards pro-industry policies. During his tenure, the fiscal deficit, has reduced from 4.5% to 3.1%. In 2005, Dr. Singh's government, introduced, the VAT tax, that replaced the complicated sales tax. In 2007 and early 2008, inflation, became a big problem. Dr. Singh's government, worked in concert with the Reserve Bank of India. It reached double-digits, during June-November 2008, before returning to single digits in November 2008.

Healthcare and Education

In 2005, Prime Minister Singh and his government's health ministry started the National Rural Health Mission, which has mobilized half a million community health workers.
Dr. Singh has announced that eight more Indian Institutes of Technology will be opened in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Orissa, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The Singh government has also continued the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme, begun by his predecessor, Mr. Vajpayee. The programme has included the introduction and improvement of Mid-day meals and the opening of schools all over India, especially in rural areas, to fight illiteracy. The ancient university, Nalanda University, shall be restarted, in Bihar.

Security and Home Affairs

Dr. Singh's government, has been criticised, by opposition parties for revoking POTA, and for the many bomb blasts in various cities, like in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Jaipur, etc. and for not being able to reduce the Naxal terrorism, that is menacing rural areas in Eastern and Central India. Dr. Singh's government, has however, extended the ban on the radical Islamic terror group, Student's Islamic Movement of India, (SIMI). Terrorism in Kashmir, has however, reduced significantly, during the Singh administration.
The important NREGA act and the RTI act were passed by the Parliament in 2005 during his tenure. While the effectiveness of the NREGA has been successful at various degrees, in various regions, the RTI act has proved crucial in India's fight against corruption.


Manmohan Singh received strong criticism from India's Left Front for his role in the implementation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. Shown here are Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush exchanging handshakes in New Delhi in 2006.
Manmohan Singh is criticized by the Leader of Opposition and prominent member of the  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Lal Krishna Advani, for being the "weakest Prime Minister until now".Opposition parties in India, particularly the BJP, allege that Sonia Gandhi, the current Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, enjoys greater say in government affairs than the Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh and government officials have strongly rebuked the charge.
Some opposition parties have been criticizing him since he was elected as Rajya Sabha member in 1991 from Assam. Their main argument was that he is not eligible to become a Member of Parliament from a state where he does not reside.
His statement about losing sleep on Hanif's arrest in Australia was also criticized. The opposition party asked whether he lost sleep when hundreds of people were killed in Hyderabad, Varanasi and Ajmer blasts.


On 22 July 2008 the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) faced its first confidence vote in the Lok Sabha after the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led Left Front withdrew support from the government over India approaching the IAEA for Indo-US nuclear deal. The President had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prove the majority. The UPA won the trust vote with 275-256, after two days of debate and deliberations. The vote was delayed by one hour due to allegations from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that certain coalition allies of the government had bribed certain opposition parliamentarians to abstain from the confidence vote.

Personal life

Singh married Gursharan Kaur in 1958, and they have three daughters. His eldest daughter, Upinder Singh, is a professor of history at St. Stephen's College. His youngest daughter, Amrit Singh, is a staff attorney at American Civil Liberties Union and is married to Barton Beebe, an Associate Professor of Law who specializes in intellectual property law.
Degrees and posts held

First Class Honours degree in Economics, University of Cambridge, St John's College, Cambridge (1957)
Punjab University, Chandigarh, India
Senior Lecturer, Economics (1957-1959)
Professor of International Trade (1969-1971)
Reader (1959-1963)
Professor (1963-1965)
D. Phil in Economics, Nuffield College at University of Oxford, (1962)
Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
Honorary Professor (1996)
Chief, Financing for Trade Section, UNCTAD, United Nations Secretariat, New York
1966 : Economic Affairs Officer 1966
Economic Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Trade, India (1971-1972)
Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, India, (1972-1976)
Honorary Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (1976)
Director, Reserve Bank of India (1976-1980)
Director, Industrial Development Bank of India (1976-1980)
Secretary, Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs), Government of India, (1977-1980)
Governor, Reserve Bank of India (1982-1985)
Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission of India, (1985-1987)
Advisor to Prime Minister of India on Economic Affairs (1990-1991)
Finance Minister of India, (21 June 1991 - 15 May 1996)
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (1998-2004)
Prime Minister of India (22 May 2004 - Present)



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