Position: Prime Minister of India
Incumbent: Dr. Manmohan Singh
Date of Birth: Sept. 26, 1932
Term: May 2009 to date. This is his second straight five-year stint as prime minister. Unlikely to run for office in future.
-- Singh’s reputation was forged in his time as finance minister in the 1990s, when he pushed through a series of economic reforms which set the stage for India’s subsequent boom and entry onto the world stage as a rising economic power.
-- He seemed an unlikely choice for prime minister, thrust into the limelight only because Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party, turned down the top job after winning elections in 2004. Time and again, Singh seemed dwarfed by Gandhi and too weak to discipline a cabinet of often-squabbling ministers and senior party leaders.
-- Under fire since late 2010 for a series of corruption scandals tht have blocked the progress of laws through parliament, Singh appeared on television in February to say he was not a “lame duck” leader.
-- A career technocrat, the grey-bearded, bespectacled economist acquired his global orientation working at various international organizations, including the United Nations, making him a less insular prime minister than many of his predecessors.
-- A former central bank governor, Singh supports making the Indian rupee more convertible. He has also raised the bar on economic expansion and wants India to grow 10 percent a year, firmly believing that this is the only weapon to fight poverty in a country with 450 million poor.
-- He is the first Indian prime minister to hold a doctorate. Born into a poor Sikh family in a western province now in Pakistan, Singh won scholarships to Cambridge and Oxford, earning a doctorate with a thesis on the critical role of exports and free trade in India’s economy. But he has never won an election and sits in the mostly nominated upper house of parliament.
-- People who have known and worked with Singh for more than a decade describe him as an anti-politician, a quiet, hard-working man and a deep thinker who shuns the perks and corruption that many Indian politicians thrive on. Singh likes a spartan lifestyle. His attire consists of trademark sky-blue turban while lunch and dinner are two rotis -- a flat Indian bread -- and lentils.
-- Singh has been putting in 14-hour days, devouring files and coming to grips with the complexities of running a hugely diverse country of 1.2 billion people. Singh doesn’t deny he is a politician by accident. He once said: “The greatness of democracy is that we are all birds of passage. We are here today, gone tomorrow. But in the brief time that the people entrust us with this responsibility it is our duty to be honest and sincere in the discharge of these responsibilities.”
Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Daniel Magnowski