India’s new Oxford-educated Prime Minister was a
“loner” with little charisma, according to his former
doctoral supervisor. Manmohan Singh studied economics at Nuffield College in the
early 1960s. His appointment as Prime Minister last Saturday came
following the shock victory of the secular Congress Party in
India’s general elections. The ruling Hindu nationalist BJP
party had been expected to win. Singh’s former research supervisor, Dr Ian Little, who
has since retired, informed Cherwell that Singh was a private man
during his time at Nuffield. “He wasn’t a highly social
animal,” said Dr Little, 85. “I don’t think he
really took part in college life.” Little claims to be “very proud” of Singh’s
rise to the top, but suggested that the new premier is an
“inexperienced politician” facing several difficult
challenges. Not everyone is impressed with Singh’s
promotion. “It’s not very interesting really,”
said one porter at Nuffield. “Somerville has had three prime
ministers.” As Finance Minister in the early 1990s, Singh pioneered
India’s economic reforms which supporters credit for
boosting the economy, but which critics claim have increased
social inequality. His surprise selection as Prime Minister came
after the favourite for the job, Sonia Gandhi, widow of the
former PM Rejeev Gandhi, declined the post following controversy
over her Italian origins.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2004