BS has this http://www.business-standard.com/article/specials/manmohan-singh-leader-or-led-114050201407_1.html rather blunt analysis of MMS tenure. It pencils his rather meteoric rise from being a professor in Panjab University & later DSE in the 1960’s to an economic advisor in Ministry of Commerce then as a secretary in department of economic affairs followed by Deputy chairmanship of Plan panel in the ’70’s and later as RBI Guv in 1982 at 50 years of age. He became FM in PV Narsimha Rao government in early 1990’s and ofcourse topped it up with PM ship for 10 years starting 2004. Phew! That is some career, lesser mortals can only dream of it.
He comes across as this extremely hardworking individual, mild mannered and who is basically a decent man with non – confrontationist attitude who adept of executing orders. Not a leader per se who commands respect with a dominant personality or Clinton like charm.
On another level, it appears that he also happens to be the right person at the right time. The FM role came to him after another individual turned it down as also the PM ship which fell into his lap after Sonia G “sacrificed” it. The “reformist” tag stuck to him when infact the groundwork for the reforms seemed to have been drafted by others. He just rolled them out under the astute leadership of PM Narsimha Rao. Ofcourse, he was personally honest but tolerated dishonesty and corruption. Someone who is a survivor even at the cost of principles.
Sonia G chose him in 2004 as she basically wanted a loyalist (like Rao) but also someone without a political base of his own (unlike Rao) as also someone who is a non – politician himself lest he outsmarts her (like Rao). Thus, of the two choices of Sonia G for PM, her choice of MMS was spot on. Narsimha Rao, MMS’s political mentor, proved too smart for her.
From a great start to his career as a technocrat the end was disastrous at best. UPA 1 saw economic growth for the country as a whole which pulled up a record number of people from poverty. But then ill advised profligate spending by an emboldened government of his on welfare schemes fuelled inflation which wrought havoc in the second part of his tenure. Also, UPA2 saw skeletons tumbling out as a result of numerous scams. It is ironic that a person who seemed and even now seems upright could have even tolerated leave aside allowing the theft of natural resources right under his nose. May be a highly overrated economist but an underrated politician he was.
As they say what goes up has to come down. May be he could have signed out on a high after he led UPA to a record victory in 2009 Lok Sabha seeing the tightrope he had to walk in the first tenure. But then Indians are not known to sign out on a high and tend to stick around past the sell – by date.