“Manmohan Singh – India’s saviour or just ‘the underachiever’?” blares the title on ‘The Independent’, a British daily. The entire article speaks of how Manmohan Singh, once credited with the introduction of a series of reforms in 1991, now finds himself being pointed to ruthlessly for dismal failure. The report has questioned Singh’s legacy and his capability in exercising control over the coalition, which has been reeling under corruption scams, bullying allies and an unresponsive bureaucracy. The Congress Party on its part has not taken in the criticism very kindly.
The article refers to Manmohan Singh as being hailed as “the man who saved India” 21 years ago, when he announced a “series of liberalising measures that cut away India’s notorious red tape and ended the so-called Licence Raj”. Dr. Singh, credited with a series of reforms introduced on 24 July, 1991 now finds himself rebuked by business critics about an “evaporating” business zeal, which apparently has “slowed the country’s growth”.
Adding to this is the report which came up in the ‘Time’ magazine. Placed 19th this April in the list of the 100 influential figures in the world, the latest Asian edition has now painted him dismally as “The Underachiever”. Worse still, the magazine made the statement, “India is stalling.To turn it around, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must emerge from his private and political gloom.”
Making a reference to the report on ‘Time’ magazine, the report in the UK daily states thus:
In truth, the article contained nothing that was new but it refocused people’s attention on a man whose reputation is at risk of being permanently damaged. Along with his ministers, Mr Singh, who first became prime minister in 2004 and is now in his second term, has received increasing criticism from various quarters as the country’s growth has slumped from a soaring nine per cent in 2007-08 to a “mere” 5.3 per cent in the first three months of this year, the lowest since 2003.
The article goes on to quote observers, who feel that the Prime Minister has “no genuine political power” and owes even his position to Sonia Gandhi, Congress Chairperson. The article concludes stating that if any one must gear up to salvage Dr. Singh’s reputation, it has to be the man himself.
The ruling Congress has not been soft in its response to the UK daily’s report. Reactions poured in from spokesperson Manish Tewari, “It is unfortunate that some people misuse editorial licence. While criticism is to be taken in one’s stride; what needs to be kept in mind is that criticism should not cross boundaries of decency and start bordering on the offensive and I do hope that people who are entrusted with the responsibility of handing of editorial content would definitely keep this submission in mind.”
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