Dr. Manmohan Singh, who turned 85 on Tuesday, September 26, headed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as the 14th Prime Minister of India. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Manmohan Singh was once again elected as the Prime Minister of India and served his second term.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi proposed Singh’s name as the party’s prime ministerial nominee. He was endorsed by party members as well. The first Sikh in office, Singh was also the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to be re-elected after completing a full five-year term.

Born on September 26, 1932 in Gah village of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Singh held several key positions like Economic Adviser to the government and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission before being catapulted to the position of the Prime Minister in 2004.

Known to be one of the finest economists, Singh is always remembered for carrying out several cultural reforms that liberalised India’s economy during 1991 as India faced a severe economic crisis; newly elected Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao surprisingly inducted the apolitical Singh into his cabinet as Finance Minister. Over the next few years, these measures proved successful in averting the crisis, and enhanced Singh’s reputation globally as a leading reform-minded economist.

Key achievements by the most celebrated economist:

As Singh took over from the NDA government in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots and a surcharged communal atmosphere, his administration brought in a sense of balance in the situation of the country.

Not opposing pressures from allies, especially the Left parties, Singh displayed considerable determination to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal and to end the sanctions regime against India even unmindful of the threats to his government.

Singh’s governments also delivered a strong 8.5 per cent GDP growth for most of his tenure but the scams–2G, CWG and Coal block allocations–and the resultant policy paralysis of the government stymied his performance.

His first five-year tenure was marked by major initiatives like MNREGA and RTI. The highlight of that term was also the strong stand that the normally soft-spoken Singh took on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in the face of strong opposition by the Left parties, which were then part of his government.