Manmohan Singh’s birthday: Five key reforms by India’s former prime minister


Dr. Manmohan Singh, who celebrates his 90th birthday today, served as the 13th Prime Minister of India. Prior to his tenure as Prime Minister, Singh served as the Finance Minister of India from 1991 to 1996.

While many in the younger generation recognize Singh primarily as a former prime minister, it is important to recognize his invaluable contribution during his tenure as finance minister.

Also read: Manmohan Singh praises PM Modi’s leadership, says ‘India has done the right thing…’

During this period, he was instrumental in moving the Indian economy away from the constraints of a socialist economy associated with the Nehruvian era. On his birthday, let’s take a look at some of the key policy decisions that changed the shape of the Indian economy.

Economic Liberalization (1991)

As Finance Minister in 1991, Dr. Singh played an important role in liberalizing India’s economy. These reforms include reducing trade barriers, abolishing the license raj system and opening up key sectors to foreign investment. These reforms ushered in India’s economic growth and globalization.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) (2000)

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Programme) was launched in the year 2000 when Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Finance Minister. The initiative was aimed at offering all-weather road connectivity to rural areas, with the aim of promoting rural development and increasing accessibility and connectivity.

Also read: G20 Summit 2023: Former PM Manmohan Singh, HD Deve Gowda invited to grand dinner in Delhi

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These represent only a selection of important decisions and actions associated with Dr. Manmohan Singh’s role as Prime Minister of India and a prominent figure in Indian government. Substantial progress was seen in economic policy, diplomatic relations, social welfare and improvement of infrastructure during his tenure.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) (2005)

The government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005, later renamed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). This social welfare initiative was designed to offer rural households a statutory guarantee of at least 100 days of employment annually, with the aim of alleviating rural poverty and unemployment.

Also read: ‘History will be kinder to him…,’ netizens hailed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he appeared in the Rajya Sabha in a wheelchair.

Right to Information Act (RTI) (2005)

During Dr. Manmohan Singh’s tenure in office, the enactment of the Right to Information Act represented an important piece of legislation. This law empowers Indian citizens to request information from government agencies and institutions, which serves as an important tool for transparency, accountability, and prevention of corruption in public administration.

Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement (2005)

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s notable foreign policy initiative was the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, often referred to as the 123 Agreement.

Also read: How nuclear deal thawed India-China relations

The landmark agreement facilitated civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US, giving India access to nuclear technology and fuel for a civil nuclear power program. This was achieved even though India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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