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July 31st, 2004 · No Comments

Business Standard looks at the first 10 weeks of Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh:

It has been 71 days since Manmohan Singh made the unexpected ascent to the countrys top job. During that time he has emerged as the most low-profile prime minister the country has ever had.

He has made one trip to Andhra Pradesh, a key Congress bastion, and another to Assam from where he has been elected to the Rajya Sabha. This week hes made his first trip abroad to Bangkok, for a meeting on regional trade and cooperation.

His advisors talk about long hours in the office, of a man who is poring through the files that the system throws up to him. Perhaps thats why some insiders say he is less dependent on his principal secretary than any other prime minister has ever been. Hes a hands on man. Be it foreign affairs, the economy, rural development or water, he likes to take a first account from the concerned secretary, says a senior bureaucrat.

One things for sure: Manmohan Singh is as different from A B Vajpayee as chalk is from cheese. He wants the detail (a 40-page memo on a complicated subject was welcomed and devouredwhich no one since Indira Gandhi would have done); he wants the total picture before making a move; and he wants to address the most difficult issues of development, not just make the flamboyant gesture or announce a grand scheme.

Its a harder road to walk, and it does not help that he runs a minority government with multiple handicaps. A decade ago Finance Minister Manmohan Singh put his indelible stamp on modern India. The jury is still out on whether Prime Minister Singh will be able to put a similar stamp on 21st century India.

Tags: General

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