In a couple of days Dr Manmohan Singh the outgoing Prime Minister of India shall become part of the country's political history. A self educated person he rose from very humble beginnings to become come the largest democratic country's Prime Minister. A leading economist he was an elder statesman in world politics. His scholarly achievements were respected by many important leaders of the world.
As is well known he joined the Congress government in 1991-92 as Finance Minister and presented a revolutionary budget that set India on the road to economic recovery and its integration with the global economy.The Indian economy hasshown phenomenal progress since then. The country's GDP has touched 8 - 9% annual growth, one of the highest in the world. The average growth has been around 7%. However this year it is around 5%. In 91-92, Foreign exchange reserves had fallen to a humiliating $1 billion and today the reserves are a much healthy $315 billion.
In his first term as PM from 2004-09, the economy made good and sound progress and India was being hailed as a country which would fast become an economic giant.The mood was upbeat and the middle class supported the Congress/ Manmohan Singh by giving them more seats and re-electing their party to power in 2009.
however somewhere along theway during this second term Dr Manmohan Singh lost the plot. At first gradually and then with increasing pace, the economy started faltering. Inflation was running high,prices were out of control and fresh investments were not forthcoming.Government approvals were not forthcoming especially due to environmental non clearances. The opposition lost no time in capitalizing on this god given opportunity.
Soon the perception gained ground that the PM is not in control. The real authority lies elsewhere. Thus he was seen as a person with responsibility but no authority and the power behind him was seen as a person with authority and no responsibility. The matters were further compounded by the by now almost legendary silence maintained by the PM.
The spateof corruption scams that broke out, very fast eroded the remaining image of the Manmohan led government. The personally honest PM was seen as powerless to stop the embezzlement of money by his party and cabinet colleagues. While people trusted him increasingly the perception gained ground that he was looking the other way due to unexplainable compulsions.
The Congress party was busy projecting an inexperienced person as its future leader. He was pitted against a fast gaining acceptance in the form of a person who had led his State with great aplomb being elected thrice and full of aggression and energy. The falling reputation of the Congress Party and its PM made it easy for him to establish himself first within his own party and now in the whole country.
The Congress has paid the price for its follies. A hard working, sincere, trustworthy, honest, wise and a gentle person who was already in the history books for his path breaking budget in 91-92 and who would have consolidated a fantastic reputation if he had chosen to retire in 2009 is today being seen as a failure and responsible for the Congress party's defeat at the hustings.
Truly, one should know when to disassociate from what one is doing and recognize the quality of background supporters. In politics everyone is for oneself. Poor Manmohan Singh tried to be a team player and is now paying the price.
However the India he inherited in 2004 and earlier in 1991-92, and the India of today are simply not comparable . By all accounts India has progressed considerably in all areas. Only the humble village background PM did not know how to beat his own trumpet.
May Dr Manmohan Singh lead a healthy retired life and if possible write his memoirs.