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Prime Ministers of India
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Prime Ministers of India

1.       Jawaharlal Nehru :

Indias first and arguably the best prime minister yet. Nehru was a statesman of the highest caliber. It accounts both for both his achievements and his short comings.

Achievements :

1.       Architect of Modern India through huge public sector industries and large infrastructure projects.

2.       He was a pure democrat and secular. Any other person in his position may have misused the tremendous standing he had in his party and the country. No one would dare to accuse him of impropriety or nepotism.

3.       Increased Indias standing in the world by his work in the Non alignment movement, active support to peace efforts in Korea, china etc. and by calling for global nuclear disarmament.

Short comings:

 

1.       Indias growth rate under him was not as good as it could have been.

 

2.       Made historic mistakes in respect of Kashmir and China which resulted in India losing large parts of territory.

 

2. Lal Bahadur sastri :

 

Future generations in India might find it hard to believe that a man of such honesty and simplicity could have been in politics. However his reign was so short to have any great impact on the country.

 

Achievements :

 

Showed pragmatism and led India to victory in the 1965 war against Pakistan.

 

3. Indira Gandhi :

 

Indias most controversial prime minister. She was a woman of steel. What could have been the most productive and promising regime in India ended as the most controversial of all regimes.

 

Achievements :

 

1.       Led India to a spectacular victory in 1971 war against Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

 

2.       Dismantled the third world mindset of India and improved Indias relations with Soviet Union which helped India acquire defence hardware and improve nuclear and space cooperation.

 

3.       Conducted Indias first Nuclear tests in 1974.

 

4.       Crushed militancy in Punjab ( atleast partially) by sending troops into the Golden Temple in Amristar.

 

Shortcomings :

 

1.       Declared Emergency in 1975 which remains the darkest period in post independence Indian history.

 

2.       Reduced all congressmen to sycophants ( Including the Indian president). Notorious for Nepotism and Undemocratic activities which allowed even fools like Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi to call the shots in the government.

 

3.       Promoted terrorism in East Pakistan and Srilanka.

 

4. Morarji Desai:

 

Indias first non congress Prime minister. An influential politician from Western India who headed the Janata Party government formed after the struggle against Emergency lead by Jaya Prakash Narayan. Known more for his habit of drinking his own urine and his Feb 29 birthday than for his work in office.

 

5. Charan Singh:

 

Very few people in India know that they even had a Prime Minister in the name of Charan singh. A leader with a agricultural background from Uttar Pradesh ,he formed a puppet government, whom Indira Gandhi dispensed with soon after.

 

6. Rajiv Gandhi:

 

A man who began his term as a promising young leader ended as the most imcompetent Prime Minister of all times. Personally I would rate him as the greatest fool to have been prime minister in any country in the history of the world !!

 

Achievements:

 

1. Tried some modernisation of  the Defense forces and the Indian industry. Introduced STD booths all over the country with the help of Sam Pithorda and Indias ambitious Integrated Missile development program was started during his term.

 

2.       Encouraged many youngsters in politics like Rajesh Pilot, Rangarajan Kumaramangalam and Madhava Rao Sindhia. (All now dead).

 

Bunglings!!

 

1. Messed up the Srilankan crisis with staggering consequences. 1500 Indian soldiers dead. Indian soldiers indulged in large scale atrocities (rape, looting and killings) against the Tamils. Srilanka continues to burn till date.   

 

2. Father of terrorism in kashmir. He did nothing to prevent the large scale rigging in the 1987 assembly elections which triggered militancy in what was until then a non violent separatist movement.

                

 3. Politicised the Ayodhya issue by allowing Shilanyas and by starting his 1989 election campaign from Ayodhya.

 

4. Bofors scandal involving his close associates and his massive cover up of the case stands out as the most popular defense scandal in Indian history.

 

 5. Reduced the massive 427 member strength of the congress party in 1984 (Even Nehru did not have such numbers) to 180 seats in 1989.

 

7. V.P.Singh:

 

A man of shrewd intelligence , he quickly turned the heat of Bofors on Rajiv Gandhi and captured power with his newly floated Janata Dal in 1989. A champion of caste politics, he implemented the Mandal commission recommendations ( Reservations) which is certain to hurt India for several decades to come.

 

8.       Chandra sekar:

 

When he resigned his post of Prime minister in 1991 everyone in the country heaved a sigh of relief !! ( Including himself !!). A product of the Lohite politics he went the same way as Charan Singh, done in by Rajiv Gandhi.

 

9.       P.V. Narasimha Rao:

 

Only Prime minister outside the Nehru Gandhi family to have completed full five years in office (till now). A man who believed that doing nothing is the best thing to do has infact achieved more than many people would give him credit.

 

Achievements:

 

1.       Alongwith his able finance minister Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced economic reforms in India. The four years from 1993 to 1996 saw the highest growth rates in Indian history.

 

2.       Successfully completed his term by political maneuvering ( He led a minority government of 240 MPs.)

 

Shortcomings:

 

1.       Arguably the most corrupt of all prime ministers. He was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment by a lower court only to be acquitted in the Supreme court. He still has cases pending against him.

 

2.       The economic reforms lost stream after the initial impetus. Did not do much in downsizing the government or disinvestment.

 

8.       H.D.Deve Gowda:

 

Virtually no one in India wanted or expected him to become Prime Minister. Product of the great joke of Indian politics called the National Front , he was so unfit to be Prime Minister that criticising him would seem unfair.

 

9.       I.K. Gujral :

 

The man who gave the Gujral Doctrine of friendly relations with neighboring countries, tried to improve relations with Pakistan. A good man with no political backing, he could not have made much impact and so he didnt.

 

 

10. Atal Bihari Vajpayee:

The first truly non congress prime minister of India and the first to win two consecutive terms in office in 25 years. A man whose acceptance level among people is much greater than his partys acceptability.

Achievements:

1.       Conducted Indias second nuclear tests and declared India to be a nuclear weapon state.

2.       Tried his level best to improve relations with Pakistan ( Lahore and Agra) and when stabbed on the back by Pakistan , led India to victory in Kargil.

3.       Carried forward the Second generation economic reforms by increased disinvestment, privatisation and opening many sectors to foreign investments. ( Insurance, telecom etc). India is showing signs of faster economic growth.

4.    His pet project of linking the four metros in the Golden Quadrangular highways project is the only great effort made to improve the infrastructure in India in a long time.

5.    On the personal front he is a legendary parliamentarian ( Member of either houses for 45 years) and statesman of the league of  Nehru.

             Shortcomings:

 1. The economy is showing signs of recovery but for the last four years has not grown at the required pace and India has fallen way behind China in development.

 2.      His government has been stumbling from one controversy to another which hinders development.

3.      Vajpayees government comes with a not so acceptable Sangh baggage. 

 

Our Collective Failures !

 

55 years have passed since Independence and we still have severe short comings in many fronts. I have listed some of them here. Of course we have had some achievements but then no one considers them to be spectacular.

1.       India continues to be a developing country ! ( a diplomatic term for being a third world nation).

2.       Indians are the most illiterate , most mal nourished, most below poverty line and most without basic civil needs ( Public health, Drinking water , sanitation, better roads). All these based on the numbers rather than on the percentage of people.

3.       India bleeds not being able to cope with the Terrorists of all hues. (From Kashmir, North east to the petty tamil terrorists).

4.       India does not have good relations with any of its neighbors. We have not even solved boundary disputes with Bangladesh leave alone china and Pakistan.

5.       India still has not developed into a mature democracy with people continuing to vote in the name caste, religion and not to speak of the criminals in Politics.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss Indias achievements and Failures but that of her prime ministers. At this point in time who could become Indias next prime minister ?.

 

We have Sonia Gandhi who if she becomes prime minister would be the greatest shame on this country. The only acceptable option seems to be Lal Krishna Advani. But then he has his own fundamentalist past. We will get to know in few months.