Manmohan Singh's legacy

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS): 1. Nuclear Deal. Pushing through the Indo-US civil nuclear deal and determinedly garnering all the support it needed.

2. Rural employment. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a scheme to provide 100 days of employment to a member of every poor rural family a year, was said to have won his government a second term with 200 plus seats.

3. Poverty reduction. India reduced its number of poor from 407 million to 269 million, a fall of 138 million in seven years between 2004-05 and 2011-12. 

4. Rights-based empowering legislation. Passing the Right to Information Act, the Right to Education Act and the Food Security Act to empower the poor and the powerless.

5. Polio eradication. Pushing through with India's polio vaccination drive to make the country polio-free.

6. Biometric identification. Launching the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) scheme in 2009 to provide every person residing in India with an Aadhar identity card.

7. DBT. Rolling out the direct benefit cash transfer scheme, in what was termed a game-changer for UPA II, to ensure that cash benefits directly reach the poor and underprivileged.

8. Foreign policy. Making friends with an adversarial China, by pushing trade to high levels and also inking a border defence pact for peace and tranquillity on the border. Made India's voice heard in global forums with greater respect, forged a strategic partnership with the US and elevated ties with Japan.

9. Infrastructure. The government has pushed for major infrastructure projects, including the Delhi-Mumbai infrastructure corridor. More than 17,000 km highways developed; greater reach of rural electrification, railways, telecom widened; infrastructure in the northeast boosted. Foodgrain production reaches record heights. Power capacity more than doubled to 243,000 MW in 2013-14 from 113,000 MW in 2003-04.


1. Corruption. Biggest factor that has proved the undoing of the UPA government. Manmohan Singh, though himself impeccably honest, has been accused of turning a Nelson's eye to political and bureaucratic corruption and wrongdoings by several ministerial colleagues. The government was rocked by several scams, among them the coal mine allocation controversy, the telecom spectrum allocation controversy, 2010 Commonwealth Games controversy, alleged bribery in purchase of VVIP helicopters, cash for vote scam of 2008; and Adarsh housing society scam.

2. Policy paralysis. The government is seen as hesitating to take major economic decisions like introducing FDI in retail to revive flagging economy, largely due to pressure from allies and even resistance from his own party. He could not take his own ministers along on several decisions while many reformist measures failed to get parliamentary support.

3. Foreign Policy: Failure to sign the Teesta water accord with Bangladesh because of a state government's recalcitrance. Also criticised for mishandling relations with smaller neighbours, especially the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Failed to make much headway with Pakistan and got little time from his domestic problems to attend to other important regions, particularly Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

4. Economy. India's slowing economic growth and persistent high inflation, coupled with a huge populace of youth with aspirations remaining to be fulfilled, have added to the growing dissatisfaction with the government as it misjudged the implications of the global slowdown on the economy and failed to act in time.

5. Communication failure. The government's inability - and the prime minister's personal reluctance - to communicate effectively to the people, challenge the propaganda of its critics and project even the good work it was doing, was one of its biggest undoings and showed how it it lacked a key element of modern governance.


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