By this time tomorrow, we are likely to get the new Prime Minister. In all probability, Narendra Modi seems to be the man.

Exit polls suggest a whooping majority for NDA. But while the World is waiting to see how the results, let’s not forget the man, who bids adieu to the chair: Dr. Manmohan Singh – the scholar, the economist, the pioneer of trade reforms in India, The 13th Prime Minister of India – the only one to rule for 10 years despite not being a part of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

manmohan5_650_new_010314113126_022814032855As he himself said in January this year, “History will be kinder to him than media”. As Swaminathan Aiyyar mentions in his column for Times Of India, History “will also remember him as a Sikh who was nominated for Prime Ministership by a Christian Congress president and sworn in by a Muslim President in a country that is 82% Hindu.”

Dr. Singh’s tenure had been an interesting one for this country. It was marked by high-points like RTI, and low-points like corruption on the part of ministers in his government. Many would describe him as the weakest Prime Minister ever, considering the fact that real authority was in hands of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Still, he managed to be assertive at times and got the things done. He was the craftsman of many remarkable policies- Indo-US nuclear deal being the most important of them all. Especially during UPA-1 Dr. Singh emerged as one of the most respected leaders of the World.

One can not forget the fact that India was virtually immune to the wave of recession that hit Europe and US- the impact was obviously seen in our markets but the economy was not heavily damaged. Shall we not give him the credit for that? He headed a government with support from left and managed to keep the left at bay on important occasion.

He was “The Accidental Prime Minister”, as Sanjaya Baru puts it, but that same book makes you think about his tenure in a different light- with a more soft tone. The decay was within the coalition and perhaps, within the Congress party- his failure to detect it and get rid of it overshadowed his achievements. The turbaned man who was proficient in Punjabi, Urdu and English but didn’t know how to read Hindi Devnagari script; managed to look after such a diverse country for so long… needs applause.

Sadly, his shyness and low-profile attitude was always taken as a marker of ineffectiveness. There were jokes on him; the man with few words was never as charismatic as Indians would have liked their leader to be. However, the fact remains- he came with a clean background and when he leaves, it’s as clean as ever.

– Janhavee Moole

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