Manmohan Singh

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"Manmohan Singh"

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Steve Coll makes the case that Manmohan Singh, prime minister of India and formerly minister of finance, is one of the great underrated statesmen of our time. It’s a very convincing case. Singh brought economic growth to India, has fought—and won—against destructive Hindu nationalism, made efforts at peace with Pakistan, and done an admirable job of urging restraint in the face of provocations from terrorists. That last is, in particular, something I think American political leaders could learn a lot from.

Among other things it reminds me that it’s always difficult to really keep the sheer scale of India and China in mind. Thinking about the global economic crisis, for example, it’s worth recalling that those two mega-countries have kept on growing right through the developed world’s downturn. So for over two billion people, 2009 is actually the best of times, economically speaking. And that’s many more people than live in the US/Europe/Japan depressed era.

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