Dr. Manmohan Singh’s Questionable Speech In Parliament – OpEd


When Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister in the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s cabinet, most people recognized him as financial expert. He was given the credit for reviving the Indian economy, though many people believe even today that it was Mr. Narasimha Rao’s guidance and support that enabled Dr. Manmohan Singh to achieve tangible results.

Possibly, such a good image was one reason that he was chosen as the Prime Minister by the Congress party. However, some people believe that he was chosen as the Prime Minister , since he was expected to be pliable and not assertive.

Corrupt people enjoyed cover under Dr. Singh

During the ten years of his Prime Ministership, Dr. Singh was steadily losing his reputation. Finally, at the end of his two terms, most country men thought that he presided over one of the most corrupt governments in the independent India. He himself was accused of involving himself in coal scam ,apart from the accusation that he allowed so many other scams knowingly.

Even today, people still believe that Dr. Manmohan Singh is a honest person but a weak and inefficient Prime Minister, when so many corrupt persons were helplessly given shelter by him and they amassed wealth under the cover that he provided.

In the last two and half years after Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, many people tend to compare the type of confused and weak governance that Dr. Singh provided and assertive leadership now being provided by Mr. Narendra Modi.

Questionable remarks of Dr. Singh in parliament

Under such circumstances, many people would have been surprised to read about the extremely critical speech delivered by Dr.Manmohan Singh in the parliament on 24th November on demonetization. Really, Dr. Singh said nothing that has not been said before by other people who are opposed to the demonetization decision.

As a financial expert, Dr. Singh could have contributed better ideas for the consideration of the government for the sake of the country, particularly when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was listening to him in the parliament with rapt attention. It was a political speech appropriate for delivery by a politician and not the type of speech that should be delivered by a renowned economist.

Dr. Singh used questionable terms such as “organized loot” “legalized blunder” and “monumental mistake”.

He said that he did not disagree with the objectives of demonetisation but only questioned the way it was implemented.But, Dr. Singh, the economist, has not cared to say as to how it could have been done better or how he would have handled the situation.

Further, he said that frequent announcements after the demonetization revising the amount that the people can withdraw from their accounts or ATMs reflects “very poorly on the Prime Minister’s office, the Finance Minister’s office and Reserve Bank of India.” It is surprising that Dr. Singh failed to note that the various announcements and measures initiated by Modi government after the demonetization announcement were by way of relaxing the rules in the light of the changing scenario and not changing the basic decision or destroying the objective.

With more constructive and understanding approach, Dr.Singh could have viewed that the announcements of the government indicates it’s sensitivity and concern for the people. If he had said this , he would have sounded like a statesman who has the interest of the country in mind and the capability to look at matters objectively and in dispassionate manner.

What is particularly unfortunate is that Dr. Singh did not have single word to appreciate the bold initiative and courage of conviction of Mr. Narendra Modi.

Dr.Singh lost an opportunity

By and large, most country men recognize that the demonetization decision is necessary , the problems caused are temporary and the long term prospects for the economic and social health of the country due to demonetization decision are excellent.

In all fairness to Dr. Singh, one may think that he knows the merits of the decision taken by Mr. Modi and the genuine problems in implementing this much needed and difficult decision but Dr. Singh lacks the will and courage to say this due to his well known characteristic style of taking orders from elsewhere.

Dr. Manmohan Singh lost a great opportunity to redeem his prestige as an economist par excellence by failing to deliver a speech that would have justified his background, knowledge and understanding of the economics and ground realities.

Unfortunately, he delivered a speech that has more vituperative language and lacked wisdom that would reflect statesmanship qualities.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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