Two-term Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh credited his spectacular career to ‘luck and destiny’ as well as good teachers.
“Luck and destinity both played its part. I was fortunate in many ways that I was able to go to schools where I had very good teachers who motivated me to think fresh. That is a legacy which I will never forget,” he opened up in an interview recorded for an Indian school.
He singled out an economics lecturer [Dr Respi Rageneka, spelling to be checked] for the MA course who motivated him ‘to think big and plan to go to Cambridge which was the highest seat of learning for economics in those days.’
“I had not planned my career in the hope of wanting to be a politician,” he said, noting that since his schooling and university days, his ambition was to be a teacher.
He had earned a First Class Honours degree in Economics in 1957 at Cambridge University and then D. Phil in Economics from Nuffield College at Oxford University in 1962.
Stating again that he was an ‘accidental politician’, Manmohan said: “I’m in politics because Prime Minister Naramshima Rao induced me to join politics as finance minister of his government to deal with the massive economic crisis which India was then faced with.”
Born on September 26, 1932 in Gah village of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Dr Manmohan was credited with playing a key role in ushering in economic reforms in the 1990s, when India liberalised its economy.
The celebrated economist emerged on the political scene at peak of the 1991 economic crisis, serving as finance minister between 1991 and 1996. It was a time when India underwent comprehensive economic reforms.
After joining India’s Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, in 1991, he later served as Leader of the Opposition between 1998 and 2004.
After the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Dr Manmohan became a surprise pick for the prime ministerial role, a move engineered by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He was sworn in as PM on 22 May 2014 and took the oath of office for a second term on 22 May 2009.
In 1971, Dr Manmohan had joined the Government of India as Economic Advisor in the Commerce Ministry. This was soon followed by his appointment as Chief Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Finance in 1972. Among the many Governmental positions that Dr. Singh has occupied are Secretary in the Ministry of Finance; Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission; Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Advisor of the Prime Minister; and Chairman of the University Grants Commission, according to a profile at PMIndia website.
Back to the interview. On education, Dr Manmohan spoke highly of the tutorial system at Oxford and Cambridge universities.
On leadership, he said today’s complex world demands ‘competent, creative leadership’ to steer society.
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