Manmohan Singh, the ‘Ratna’ of India
By Vijay Darda | Published: February 12, 2024 08:00 AM2024-02-12T08:00:16+5:302024-02-12T08:02:07+5:30
Let me recall an incident that took place in August last year. The Rajya Sabha was scheduled to conduct ...
Let me recall an incident that took place in August last year. The Rajya Sabha was scheduled to conduct a vote on amendments to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill. Despite opposition from the Congress, due to the government’s majority the outcome was already predetermined.
Nevertheless, Dr Manmohan Singh, seated in a wheelchair, made his way to Parliament. If it were for anyone else, their chances of reaching would have been slim, but for Manmohan Singh, his commitment to duty has always been paramount. He is undeniably the trailblazer of India’s economic reforms. It was he who made the courageous decision to open India’s doors to the world and vice versa. Beyond politics, receiving recognition from Prime Minister Narendra Narendra Modi for such a remarkable individual is significant.
During my 18-year tenure as a member of Parliament, I had the privilege of being close to the former Prime Minister. Throughout this period, I had the good fortune of learning from him the importance of giving my utmost for the betterment of Indian democracy. In times of uncertainty, I never hesitated to seek his guidance, and he, in turn, never hesitated to provide me with valuable insights. It was truly an honour to be the recipient of his affection. Through this close association, I witnessed firsthand his unwavering clarity of vision in terms of strengthening India’s position on the global stage. Dr Singh carved out his own distinct identity as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and a highly skilled economist.
His exceptional abilities were duly acknowledged by the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. Dr Singh served as the Finance Minister in his government between 1991 and 1996, a period marked by India’s initiation of globalisation. The ‘Licence and Permit Raj’ in India had gained notoriety, but it was successfully dismantled during this time. Consequently, India’s struggling economy began to rebound, garnering international recognition and appreciation.
Dr Manmohan Singh, who assumed office as the Prime Minister in 2004, earned the moniker of ‘Accidental Prime Minister’. However, despite his reserved nature, he left an indelible mark in history by emerging as one of India’s finest PMs. The impact of his leadership and vision during his decade-long tenure is evident in the current progress of the nation. India has now ascended to the position of the fifth largest economy globally and is steadily advancing towards becoming the third largest. Undoubtedly, the policies implemented by Dr Singh have played a significant role in this remarkable achievement.
Dr Manmohan Singh prioritised not just the economic advancement of the nation, but also initiated numerous social security programmes that have stood the test of time. Recognising education as the key catalyst for national progress, he ensured that every child between the ages of 6 and 14 had the fundamental right to education. Understanding the significance of transparency in strengthening democracy, he granted the common man the right to information (RTI). Moreover, he enacted the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to prevent any citizen from succumbing to hunger.
The Land Acquisition Act and Forest Rights Act are also part of his accomplishments. He introduced the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which guarantees a minimum of 100 days of work per year for every rural family. This programme, known as MNREGA, is a one-of-a-kind employment initiative in the world. The Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana was initiated during Dr Manmohan Singh’s tenure. It provided comprehensive care for pregnant women and their children, including financial assistance and access to necessary resources.
Dr Manmohan Singh introduced a visionary initiative known as the Aadhaar Card, which, in my opinion, has had a significant impact on our country. The United Nations highly commended the Aadhaar card scheme, even though many people had doubts about it at that time. The opposition, at that time, vehemently criticised the scheme. The general public was concerned that the government would misuse the personal information collected for the card. However, all those concerns proved to be unfounded.
Today, the Aadhaar card has become an integral part of every individual’s life. It is mandatory for various essential services such as PAN card, mobile numbers, and bank accounts. Moreover, the Aadhaar card has played a crucial role in expediting our journey towards digitalisation. Dr Singh deserves credit for this remarkable achievement.
I have always held the belief that Dr Manmohan Singh consistently sought solutions to all present and potential issues in the country. The nuclear deal between India and America, which was signed during his tenure as the Prime Minister, stood out as a significant milestone. Dr Singh himself regarded this agreement as his greatest accomplishment. This very deal paved the path for India to procure nuclear fuel and gain access to nuclear plant technology. The former US President, George Bush, displayed great regards towards Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during that time. His integrity has consistently been unquestionable. This esteemed leader of India is on the verge of leaving Rajya Sabha. May our Doctor Saheb enjoy a lengthy and robust life. This is our heartfelt desire.
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.