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Narendra Modi vs. Manmohan Singh

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 7/4/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,394 times Debate No: 58549
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
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While I've never been to India, I did follow the world's biggest democratic exercise--India's most recent election--with interest. The rise of the Hindu-Nationalist BJP and the embarrassing loss suffered by the heretofore ruling Congress Party marks a seminal change in India's political structure. The nature of the latter's defeat was so total that it was unparalled in the history of the subcontinent.

Therefore, I created this topic to explore the underlying dynamics of this political split, using key members of each party as lenses through which to conduct the examination. I thank Cermank for agreeing to partake in this debate--it will certainly be challenging for me as it is outside my normal comfort zone. It will be difficult, but also interesting and fun. I look forward to a superb discussion!

Full Topic

Narendra Modi will be a better Prime Minister than Manmohan Singh.


Narendra Modi -
Manmohan Singh -


R1: Pro's Opening Case
R2: Con's Opening Case, Pro's Rebuttal
R3: Con's Rebuttal, Pro's Rebuttal
R4: Con's Rebuttal, Pro's Rebuttal and Final Focus
R4: Con's Rebuttal and Final Focus, Pro types "Pass"


1. No forfeits
2. All citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss


...again to Cermank; I hope we can have an interesting debate on the topic!


I thank BSH for the debate. I’m sure this is going to be an interesting one!

Before I get into the comparative showdown between Narendra Modi (Prime Minister, BJP) and Manmohan singh(PM, Congress), I’d like to give a brief history of the Indian politics, just so we have an idea of where we are coming from.

Congress has been associated with the Indian national struggle since before the independence. It was in fact the first party to govern the newly independent India under the leadership of Jawahar lal Nehru. He died in 1964 and was ascended by his daughter, Indira Gandhi (who declared a state of emergency after being found guilty of electoral malpractices). She, predictable lost to Janata party in the next elections that were held in 1977. However, JP was a hastily formed party that sought to reverse the dictatorship-esque characteristics that the Congress party was unfortunately degrading down to. It couldn’t sustain itself, and dissolved in 1979, Indira Gandhi came back. She was assassinated in 1984. She had two sons, both of whom were assassinated separately in 1980 and 1991.

Given the death of ALL the sons/ daughters in the Gandhi dynasty, the only possibly option for the once great party to sustain itself was to elect the wife of the late Rajiv Gandhi as the president of Congress.

Problem solved, right?

Except for one little thing, his wife wasn’t even Indian. Yeah. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the INDIAN national Congress, is Italian. The only reason she came to India was because she fell in love with Rajiv Gandhi, she had no ties to India prior to that.

So finally, why does this matter in a Manmohan Singh- Narendra Modi debate?

Because India is a parliamentary democracy. The success of any Indian Prime Minister depends on how the party structure is framed. Congress has a Italian president, who has quite a hold over what he does. Manmohan Singh was declared the Prime Minister ONLY because Sonia Gandhi wasn’t an Indian resident, and couldn’t legally be declared the Prime Minister. Thus there is this unofficial distribution of power at the centre, with a unanimous support for Sonia Gandhi, but Gandhi nominating ManMohan Singh in her place. There are allegations that MS is merely a proxy prime minister, with the real power residing in the hands of Sonia Gandhi. This brings me to my first point.

  1. 1. Manmohan Singh is a weak Prime Minister- Manmohan Singh is a great man (no sarcasm here). He pulled India out of a possible bankruptcy in 1991 when he was the finance minister, by liberalizing it. There’s no evidence that he engages in corruption, and he brought about the Indo-US nuclear deal- which was a definite win at the time we were sparring with Pakistan almost daily and there was an imminent threat of war.

HOWEVER, he has no control over his cabinet. Nobody listens to him, and he has no leadership skills. His only defence when scams over scams are discovered under his leadership was to reiterate that HE, personally, hasn’t done anything corrupt. Which is pointless and borderline insensitive when the nation was banking on his statements on the matter. The Commonwealth games scandal (which brought international shame)[1], the 2G scam[2], Coal mining scams[3], corruption was leaking through the social structures, and all he could say was that he was incorruptible and he would step down if he was found guilty. No promise of a swift response, of a ironclad retribution to the defaulters, nothing.

Rapes were happening left, right and centre, each more gruesome than the other and people were OUT ON STREETS protesting against it, and he made a 2 minute statement devoid of emotions, without any promises, nothing, ending it with a ‘is this good enough?’. [4]

People were out there, protesting at the weak anti corruption redressal system, with Anna Hazare actually on a fast unto death supported by millions of people, and he did bare minimum to control the situation. Three of his cabinet ministers tried to diffuse the situation, and failed miserably.

I believe Sushama Swaraj adequately addressed the complete ineffectual governance of MS when she said at a parliamentary session that “Normally, our prime minister doesn’t talk, but when he does, then no one [in his cabinet] even listens to him “. He did not respond to the accusation.

One of the foremost duty of the Prime Minister, apart from being the harbringer of good economic and political systems is make sure that the public believes in the system. Nobody believed in him. The only reason he was the Prime Minister was because Sonia couldn’t be. And he, unfortunately, knew that too well to stick his head out. [5]

  1. 2. Policies: Populist and regressive

A country needs three basic components to function well in the long run- a good education structure, employment structure, and a good safety net to ensure people can avail the benefits of the above two. Manmohan Singh failed on all the three parameters.

The entire focus of the education policy was to bring in more children, rather than to improve the quality of education. Indian Education system fared one of the worst in the PISA study conducted in 2009. It came second last, ranking 72 among 73 countries. In the study conducted by Pratham, proportion of class 3 students who could read a class 1 text was as low as 30%, a dip from 50% in 2010. Just over half the class V students could read a class 3 text. The report, worryingly, points out that the learning levels in 2012 actually showed a negative trend. We have had schemes, but none of them focus on quality. Its all focused on universal coverage of a bad system. [6]

Regarding jobs, it is true that our GDP did improve in UPA’s governance, but more than half the growth in GDP was due to improvement in tertiary sector, a sector where India does not have comparative advantage. It provides employment only to around 23% of the workforce even though it contributes more than 50% to the GDP.[7] Thus the benefits of growth have been severely limited to only the privileged class, which can avail the benefits of the precious few good educational institutions and participate in the booming IT sector. There has been a pressing need for a revamp of the labour law structure (to kick start the manufacturing sector) but the bills have been stuck in the parliament for years, with people bickering over it for years. The agricultural sector contributes only around 17% of the GDP, BUT employs more than 50% of the labour force. This has obvious repercussions on the wages and productivity and living standards of the people engaged. The only reason they haven’t migrated is because the manufacturing sector has not generated enough jobs, and the tertiary sector requires skills that they do not have.

The safety nets have been riddled with corruption, with the assured food/ money leaking out of the system. People are simply not receiving the money they are assured for social security, neither are they receiving the food. [8] [9]

MS failed because he couldn’t address any of the above problems. Narendra Modi has:

(a) Not only STARTED working on a majority of the issues even though he has just been elected as the PM,

(b) He actually has a pretty strong track record in Gujarat, (where he was the Chief minister prior being the PM)

1. He is strong: NM is regarded as a strong leader, regardless of where you stand on the issue. He has leadership qualities, ans a strong fan following. People believe in him, and his party believes in him (as was evidenced by the election campaign, which was highly Modi centric) [6]

2. Issues: Recognition of primary education institutes in Gujarat is indexed on the school results rather than a huge beaureocratic structure like the rest of the country (where recognition is based on certain physical characterstics like the playground size/ school area/ classroom size, etc). Rules of requirement have also been relaxed, opening up recognitions for a lot of schools that were providing quality education but were just not adequate in terms of physical infrastructure. There is a continued focus on QUALITY of education, rather than the bribe an institutre can pay to get recognition. [10]

There have been major job creation efforts recently, where the focus has been on skill creation- rather than just opening up- so that the benefit of opening up accrue to Indians, rather than MNCs. For rapid creation of jobs in the manufacturing sector, the government will strategically promote labour-intensive manufacturing. Employment opportunities will also be expanded by promoting tourism and agro-based industries.

"Job creation is the primary thing in Gujarat's development model. When the entire world is passing from the era of 'Job-war'. When China is attempting to take over the entire job market, we focused upon generating new job opportunities," Modi said. [12]

Lastly, the public distribution system in Gujarat has been a stalwart for the Indian system. Modi implemented innovative reforms in the broken system by computerizing the entire operation, making it almost impossible for the middlemen to leak money/ food from the entire chain. It improves accountability and transparency of the entire process. [13]

Thus, Modi is a decisive leader (who enjoys popular support in a heterogenous highly vocal democratic society) and has been working to improve quality education, jobs, and reduce corruption.He has successfully done this in Gujarat, so he has a positive track record. He is going to be much better than Singh, since he's focussing on the core issues that the previous govt was completely ignoring. And is in a position to implement them.














Debate Round No. 1



Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be unable to post an argument this round. I have already contact Cermank about it.

I would ask that we "tie" this debate, and start a new one. Cermank as no obligation to agree to this, since I have technically violated my own rules, and I can understand if Cermank doesn't want to do that. Either way, I would still like to do a debate on this subject, and could have arguments up tonight.

With sincere apologies,



I'd like the voters to not dock the conduct point from Con, and we both forfeit this round. We continue from the next round.

Here's a fun video just because.

Debate Round No. 2


I thank Cermank for this debate, and for her kindness regarding my inability to post. In this round I will present my case, discussing first Manmohan Singh, and then Narendra Modi.


Economic Policy

Ultimately, this is something that will have to be evaluated on balance, not something for which we can point to a specific month or year of Singh's 10 years in office and say, "look, India's economy was bad this month/year." Certainly that says nothing about the broader effects of Singh's policies. Rather, what seems most prudent, is to look at his entire 10 years in office as a single block of time, and to analyze the economy and what occurred therein during that time as a whole.

During those 10 years at Number 7 Race Course Road, New Delhi, Singh has made some absolutely fantastic economic achievements. "On his watch India’s economy more than doubled in size, as growth averaged over 8% until two years ago. The World Bank on April 29th ranked India’s economy as the world’s third-largest, replacing Japan’s (using purchasing-power parities). Elsewhere, a civil-nuclear deal with America brought benefits, notably imported uranium. And he had the grit to reduce huge subsidies on petrol and diesel," as well. [1]

Additionally, "poverty reduction is the greatest success story of the post-1991 period. Both in absolute terms and as a percentage of population, the number of Indians in poverty has fallen significantly, from 47% in 1990 to 22% in 2010. Singh deserves his share of the credit for that." [2] Indeed, poverty reduction is one of Singh greatest triumphs. [1]

"Helping the most impoverished had traditionally meant agricultural subsidisation...As prime minister, Singh has continued to rely on subsidies and handouts for the countryside, one of several aspects of economic governance that he has, ironically, been criticised for during the current election campaign...Even in the mid-1990s, few economists were predicting that India could achieve anything like China's growth rates within ten years...Yet by decade's end, growth was above 6%, and by 2003-04 it would hit 'tiger' levels of 8% and above...Now India is firmly in the club of booming emerging economies." [2] "The Finance ministry has been working towards relieving farmers of their debt and has been working towards pro-industry policies" that arguably have had important impacts on poverty reduction and rural development. [3]

Ultimately, the facts speak for themselves. In 2011, 37.2% of India lived in poverty, but by 2013, that number was reduced to just 21.9% (alternative statistics place it at 29.6%, which is still a significant reduction in the space of just 2 years.) [4, 5] As Singh himself observed, "Measuring poverty is a difficult task. There are diverse views about what constitutes poverty. But whatever definition we may adopt, it cannot be denied that the pace of reduction of poverty has increased after 2004." [4]

Foreign Policy

Singh "has overseen stable relations with Pakistan, despite Pakistan's reluctance to address Islamist terrorism, most notably in the wake of the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. At his farewell press conference on 3 January, Singh confirmed that he had come close to a peace deal on the Kashmir dispute before the departure of Pervez Musharraf in 2008. During a decade in which Pakistan has had moments of worrying political instability, Singh showed steady nerves and an ability to keep communication channels open. The BJP, which called on Singh to consider military action against Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks, appeals to its base by talking tough on Pakistan. Yet the Kashmir near-deal shows that Singh's softer approach offered the best chance for building trust and promoting the long term security of the subcontinent as a whole." [2]

"Sino-Indian relations have been in a phase of trust building, particularly in recent years, albeit with intermittent setbacks on the disputed border. On a visit to China last year Singh issued a joint statement on a strategic and cooperative partnership that included calls to resolve the border issue, pursue defence exchanges and cultivate enhanced economic ties. The Sino-Indian Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, also finalised during the visit, will in theory minimise the chances of conflict arising from unexpected movements in the contested areas. All this is framed by booming economic ties that have seen bilateral trade grow by a factor of 67 between 1998 and 2012. The BJP talks tough on China, but once again, Singh's diplomatic skill and flexibility has left India in a favourable position." [2]

"Another move that showcases Singh's capacity as a negotiator and his commitment to signaling India's peaceful rise was the Civil Nuclear Agreement with the US, finalised in 2008. The agreement brought India partially into the global regime to regulate nuclear technology by committing its civilian nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. India has always sought prestige as well as deterrence through its nuclear weapons program, and gaining its exceptional status under the agreement supports that end...The deal has been the foundation for slow and steady gains, and the level of foreign policy cooperation between India and the US today is unprecedented. This has happened without compromising Indian trust building with Pakistan and China." [2]

"Relations with Afghanistan have also improved considerably, with India now becoming the largest regional donor to Afghanistan. During Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to New Delhi in August 2008, Manmohan Singh increased the aid package to Afghanistan for the development of more schools, health clinics, infrastructure, and defence." [3] "Singh's government has also been especially keen on expanding ties with Israel. Since 2003, the two countries have made significant investments in each other and Israel now rivals Russia to become India's [largest] defence partner." [3] Russo-Indian relations "remain strong with India and Russia signing various agreements to increase defence, nuclear energy and space co-operation." [3]

What all this underscores is simple: Singh has successfully positioned India in the global sphere, reducing tensions with its regional neighbors (China, Pakistan, Afghanistan) while building upon or forming new relationships with a variety of different partners (U.S., Russia, Israel.) India has also during Singh's tenure worked to capitalize on its status as a BRICS nation, building economic and social ties with Brazil and South Africa. [3]

Domestic Policy

Singh, on the domestic front, can be credited with myriad successes, including, "poverty reduction, rural jobs and food schemes, polio eradication and the taming of a once-terrifying AIDS epidemic." [1] Singh's administration can therefore be credited with making major breakthroughs in terms of promoting health and sanitation within India.

Additionally, Singh has pushed forward in the fight against terrorism, particularly after the Mumbai attacks. He realized that India needed a single agency to deal with terror-related issues, and so created the National Investigation Agency. [3] His government has been able to reduce terrorism in Northeast India, in particular. [3]

Finally, Singh championed the Right to Information Act, which empowers any citizen to "request information from a 'public authority'...which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to proactively certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally." [6] The act has proved instrumental in the fight against corruption. [3]


Due to character limitations, I will only focus on one issue: the Gujarati Riots. I will add more in my rebuttals. Background on the riots can be found here. [7]

"Summarizing academic views on the subject, Martha Nussbaum stated that 'There is by now a broad consensus that the Gujarat violence was a form of ethnic cleansing, that in many ways it was premeditated, and that it was carried out with the complicity of the state government and officers of the law.' In 2012, Maya Kodnani, a former minister in Modi's Government...was convicted of having participated in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 riots...While initially announcing that it would seek the death penalty for Kodnani, Modi's government eventually pardoned her." [7] "Human rights organisations, opposition parties, and sections of the media all accused Gujarat's government of taking insufficient action against the riots, and even condoning it in some cases. Modi's decision to move the corpses of the Kar Sevaks who had been burned to death in Godhra...had been criticised for inflaming the violence." [7]

"Among Modi’s critics, concerns will persist about the future of India’s secularism and the fate of India’s Muslim minority...Some allege that his complicity in the deadly 2002 Godhra riots that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims render him unfit to lead a country as pluralistic as India....The BJP as a whole is a Hindu nationalist party, influenced heavily by the often-militant Hindu organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)." [8]


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Again, I apologize for missing last round.


I thank bsh for his arguments.

I'll get right down to the case.

Con argues Singh's credentials based on three major parameters- Economic, domestic and diplomatic policies.

1. Economic policies: India's GDP grew at an unprecedented rate, true. I acknowledged this in my opening argument. However, what matters here is not *how much* the GDP grew, but how much did the growth lead to better standard of living.

Short answer- It did not.

India grew at that rate *because* it liberalized in 1990s. True. However, that liberalization was forced. No matter who the government would have been at the time, they would have had to liberalize because IMF was twisting our arms. It refused to grant us loans till we laid out a liberalization plan, and we needed money. Badly. Our reserves were enough only to last a week. What matters is *how* we laid out that liberalization. As I stated previously, more than 50% of that growth was due to growth in teh services sector, a sector that employs only 23% of our population. This 23% is the priviledged sector which can avail the benefit of expensive and meagre good educational institutes in our country. The contribution of agriculture in this growth was merely 17%, even though more than half of our population is engaged in agriculture. The sad part is that even though a majority of these people would *want* to migrate, they cannot because they dont have enough skills. And they can't acquire it because the agricultural sector is largely stagnant even though the *GDP* is growing.

The HDI index of India depicts this stagnancy well. India fell from the global HDI ranking of 127 in 2004 to 134 in 2008, had some inprovement in the subsequent years and fell again to 134 in 2011.

GDP growth is not progress. In fact, the fact that they couldn't ensure that the growth wasx inclusive *even* when they had enough excuse to lay down the difficult reforms (like fiscal prudence and other reforms) is a downright failure. Given that they did not focus on structural reforms in the sector we have comparative advantage in is a downright failure. We NEED more research institutes, we need better labour laws. We need better infrastructure in our basic sectors.

Instead, we have politicians bickering and pepper spraying each other. This is far from a success. It is as if success was forced down our throat by the IMF and we did everything we could to muck it up.

Regarding poverty reduction, the only reason it did not get that much fanfare is because its common knowledge that the poverty reduction is more of a statistical jugglery than an actual achievement. The poverty line was changed for measuring the poverty rate, and is widely believed to be too low to be competent. Even plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia agrees that the poverty line is low but he his claim that even though this low poverty line helps in measuring the impact of social sector schemes on well being of people. Which is true but it negates any comparative analysis. Any reduction in poverty rate is merely a rhetoric that fails statistical analysis.

Lastly, he points out agricultural subsidies. I believe that's more fo a failure of the current administration than anything. The focus of Singh administration has *not* been improved agricultural productivities. It has just been doling out input subsidies rather than focussing on research, infrastructure, better technology, everything. EVERY policy in this sector has been populist- guided by strong farmer lobbies that ensure that the policies favour certain crop industries rather than the others. Government buys these crops off the farmers at a high price ( Protecting the farmers) and selling them to consumers at low price (protecting the people from high price)- pocketting the loss and balooning the fiscal deficit.

Oh, and also reducing the incentives of the farmers to actively look at innovation and improving technology.

They can get fertilizers and stuff at low prices, forever. There's no sunset clause in the subsidy law. Its an endemic.

2. Foreign policy: I actually agree in part with this. Foreign policy was a strong suit of the Singh government. However, it IS a strong suit in teh Modi government too. n a widely welcomed and groundbreaking first step, Modi invited leaders from all SAARC countries (and Mauritius) to his swearing-in ceremony, followed-up by bilaterals. All came, including Afghanistan's President Karzai who passed up the opportunity to meet President Obama, but made sure to meet Modi. Presently he's attending a BRICS summit in Brazil, for efforts to address regional crisis and security threats to restore a climate of peace while advancing global economic stability. He's already met Pakistan leader on the DAY when he became the prime minister, and as Hafis Saed said, was 'always welcome' in Pakistan.

I personally felt India was too soft on Pakistan, and Modi's percieved hardlining on the Pakistani issue would a welcome step from Singh's passivity. I mean, Pakistan carried out 26/11 (according to the testimonies by the caught terrorists and inputs from US and wikileaks) and all we did was to 'pressurize' Pakistan to fess up. Spoiler: They didn't.

According to Musharraf, former Pakistani president- due to prevalence of anti-India sentiment, people "themselves" are "motivated" and "indoctrinated" to cross the border "because there are gaps and it's a porous border". "They don't need training. They themselves want to go. They want to learn and want to go," he said, arguing terrorist outfits such as Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed existed much before he came to power.

"Great public support, great public sympathy among the people of Pakistan gave rise to all of them," he said, adding, "Everyone individual in Pakistan knew that people are volunteering to go and they are going into Kashmir to fight the Indian Army."

In an interview to German magazine Der Spiegel earlier this week, Musharraf had said that militant groups "were indeed formed" to fight India in Kashmir. And "the government turned a blind eye because they wanted India to discuss Kashmir"...

Even though Modi has been nothing but a diplomat with Pakistan, India's percieved hardlining with them would indeed be a blessing in disguise. Proclaiming *peace* when the other side hates you can get self- destructive, as was seen in 2008 mumbai attacks.

To support the resolution, Con would have to prove that Modi would be decidedly *worse* than Singh. Singh was great here. I agree.

Lastly, Domestic policy. Regarding right to information act, a completed country-wide assessment of the RTI was conducted by the Right to Information Assessment and Analysis Group’s (RAAG). The study surveyed 27 information commissions to find that nearly 60% of the commissions reported inadequate infrastructure as their biggest problem. Inadequate staff and low budgets were the most commonly cited problems. Perhaps because of inadequate infrastructure, there is a wide variance in the speed and efficiency with which Information Commissions dispose of cases and some states (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh) have an estimated waiting period of over one and a half years. It is certainly not adequate. There was a long fight for teh said act, spearheaded by Anna Hazare for 11 years.

NIA, its too early to comment on it being a success.

Regarding food schemes, I've already outlined my concerns- its a short term appeasement policy with no sunset clause. Definitely a huge contributor to hardlining inflation and fiscal deficit. I do, however, agree that AIDs and polio were eradicated and that IS a feather in Singh's cap. Note that I do not say that Singh was incompetent, he was just not in control of his government and the people in control had different objectives. Modi, however, is in control. His objectives are clear, he has been known to work for them in Gujarat delivering positive results. In order to fulfill his BOP, Con would have to prove that Modi would NOT work for these.

Finally, lets talk about Gujarat riots. Here's the thing, there can be a lot of allegations here. We do not know what jhappened. Conspiracy theories are abound. The fact remains that teh supremen Court of India acquited him of all charges. The Special Investigation Team found NO evidence to support his involvemengt in the riots. And before we dismiss this as another charge of corruption, or Modi pulling his strings or whatever, THIS SIT had people nominated by the Congress. Congress was the governing government when the Supreme court passed the verdict.

Our judiciary is one of the most respected institutions in the country, we need to accept the verdict. Also, it should be noted here that muslims in Gujarat and kerala were the ones which progressed the MOST in the entire country. According to the NSS survey, it is one of the top two states where rural and urban poverty declined the drastically in the last seven years. Muslims are certainly not discriminated against in Gujarat, where teh Mosi hovernment has been elected twice.
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks again to Cermank! I will be addressing Pro's case now (from R1).


Throughout much of this debate, Pro claims that Singh is merely the puppet, and Gandhi is the puppeteer. I would like to take some time to dispel this notion before I get into the substance of the debate.

Firstly, I would ask Pro to provide credible evidence, not mere speculation, that Singh is indeed at Gandhi's beck and call. Next, I would point out that much of the recent criticism of Singh as being only nominally in charge is the result of electoral backstabbing rather than well-reasoned accusations. Notably, the most recent, supposed expose, written by Sanjaya Baru, is tainted by potential election bias. Baru, a Congress loyalist, slams Singh for the exact reasons given by Pro, yet his own interest in the matter seems to disqualify him as in impartial source. "Congress expects a heavy defeat when national election results are broadcast on May 16th. It needs a scapegoat. The blame game began last month" with the book by Baru. [1]

Certainly, the BJP and their allies' criticism of Singh is apt to be skewed, and so it seems that both sides of the aisle have motives to sully Singh's name unfair: one to create a convenient scapegoat, the other to undermine its opposition. It therefore makes it hard to evaluate the credibility of any of these claims about Singh.

And, even critics of Singh admit: "Manmohan Singh was not always a passive puppet in the hands of a scheming Sonia Gandhi. He could be quite scheming himself when an issue dear to his heart came up. The passing of the US nuclear treaty is the most quoted example. Almost all parties, including sections of his own, were against it, but the Prime Minister stuck to his guns and had his way. So did he with FDI in retail which was, and still is, opposed by most states. He used craftiness, guile and every ounce of power at his disposal to push these measures through." [2]

Combined, the admission by his detractors that he did retain the ability to push through key programs, as well as the dubious credibility of the sources who cast aspersions upon him, lead me to doubt Pro's claims that Singh was merely a puppet PM.


Pro claims that Singh is weak, but then goes on to note that there is no evidence the he engages in corruption and that he successfully brought about a key nuclear deal helping to ease tensions on the subcontinent. That does not seem like the action of a weak PM.

The claims about Singh's lack of control in his cabinet are best addressed by my overview, as the implication is that Gandhi is the one with real power. As for the allegations of permitting corruption to unfold, in all of the scams mentioned by Pro, legal action is being, or has been taken. The PM must allow the judicial process to occur, which takes time. Moreover, Pro has pointed to three scandals, but this does not prove that Singh's administration was exceptionally corrupt in comparison to other administrations, nor does it prove that corruption was the fault of Singh--if factors beyond his control were the underlying causes, then he cannot necessarily be blamed.

The point about rape seems underwhelming when we consider that the Indian government under Singh has cracked down on rapes, even strengthening penalties for rapists. It is now, in certain case, possible to receive the death penalty in India for raping someone. [3]


Firstly, let's not assail the focus on universal coverage so hastily. Only 58.5% of males and 48.7% of girls attended secondary school between 2008 and 2012 (net). [4] Certainly, it does not matter if the system is stellar if no one shows up, and it is better to give all students a basic education than leave huge swaths of the population out of the system altogether. Therefore, it seems as if Singh's approach on including students is actually a crucial part of the education equation, and it's worked: in 2011, more students had enrolled than in previous years of his administration. [5]

Secondly, the Singh administration has focused on quality of education as well, and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. It launch RMSA in 2009 to improve the quality of education in India's schools by promoting vocational and technical training, enhancing facilities at schools, retaining teachers to reduce class sizes, and enacting curriculum reforms. So far, it has made massive strides in its objectives, particularly in promoting vo/tech training and improving school facilities. These successes were affirmed in RMSA's 2013 report, and seek to address the lack of infrastructure that was a major barrier to quality issues. [6, 5] Finally, Con's source (no. 6) took me to an article that had nothing to do with education. I did a Crtl+F search for the words "education," "PISA" and "students" and I got no hits.

As for the job-related arguments, I am interested to know if Pro thinks Modi could do better. Pro notes, regarding the labor restructuring law, that the "bills have been stuck in the parliament for years, with people bickering over it for years." If this is the case, Modi may be unable to successfully pass these laws himself, and, with his timid approach to the economy thus far (I'll get to this later) it also seems unlikely he'll act decisively on this issue. This argument also applies to the agricultural sector point: how will Modi be any better?

Let's now turn to Modi.


Just because a leader is a firebrand who can generate mass support, that does not make him strong. Arguably, Modi is just as cautious as Singh in terms of their government policies. Modi's first budget was widely described as "cautious" and lacking in "bold reforms." [7, 8] Some even point out that "the budget clearly indicates that the overall thrust and tenor of the current government's economic policies and programmes are not very different from the market-friendly agenda followed by the previous government in Delhi, led by the Congress party." [9]

Issues with the budget include its failure to repeal the controversial and damaging "retroactive tax law" that has been hitting companies like Vodafone. Policies like these scare away investors, and Modi's lack of action is troubling here. [7, 8] Additionally, "Standard & Poor's, which has long warned India that it may lose its investment grade rating unless the government works harder to balance its finances, said the budget did not change its assessment." [8]

Ultimately, "expectations had been high that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would use India's strongest election mandate in 30 years to take radical steps comparable to the 1991 market reforms that unleashed an era of high economic growth." [8] As Pro said herself, Modi is a decisive leader who takes decisive action. Well, his budget was anything but radical and decisive. If anything, it merely continued Singh's policies with minor changes.


As I pointed out earlier, Singh's RMSA plan is "opening up recognitions for a lot of schools that were providing quality education but were just not adequate in terms of physical infrastructure," which is exactly what Pro claims Modi is doing. Also, "Gujarat today is a rich State with poor education and health outcomes. An evaluation of key education indicators over time reveals that the improvement of Gujarat in literacy rates is sluggish as compared to the rest of India. Gujarat’s ranking in terms of literacy rate deteriorated from the fifth to the seventh for both 6 years and above, and 6-14 years age group among 15 major States between 2000 and 2008. In terms of proportion of the people who are currently attending any educational institution, Gujarat’s rank has deteriorated from the 21st to the 26th (6th to 10th among major 15 States) for the age group of 6-14 years during this period and the gender gap in literacy levels of 20 per cent and those currently attending school (13.3 per cent) in the age group of 11 to 14 is also higher in Gujarat in comparison with other States." [10]

Certainly, those aggressive jobs policies Pro discusses are not being enacted on the national level, as evidenced by Modi's budget. Consider the following: in Gujarat, GDP may have grown, but "only a careful look at the performance figures, in terms of employment, wages, consumption, poverty, inequality, and outcomes in health and education, reveals that this broad based growth has resulted in worrisome outcomes...The biggest casualty of the ‘successful’ growth in Gujarat (and least discussed) is employment. The aggregate employment in Gujarat has remained stagnant (NSSO data shows growth in employment for the period 1993-94 to 2004-05 was 2.69 percentage per annum, whereas for 2004-05 to 2009-10 it came down to almost zero)...In the last five years, the rural and urban per capita monthly consumption expenditure in Gujarat grew at much lower rates, compared to the national average and growth in other comparable States." [10]


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Cermank forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


We have agreed to re-do this debate. Please tie this round.


Cermank forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by tejretics 8 months ago

You've got me addicted to the Thank You Congress song :P Turns out my irl friends already knew about it
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
Lol...It's a bit late to redo it now ;)
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
When are you redoing this? I've been waiting ... as an Indian, I avidly followed the election too.
Posted by Cermank 2 years ago
Oh dear. 4 hours. I have the entire argument written on my laptop, its just been a long power cut. Damn, I hope I dont end up forfeiting this.
Posted by shraddhapandey113 2 years ago
former PM M.r Manmohan Singh was a man with a very weal personality. he just used to follow the orders being given to him.that's it.but this was not enough for this country..this was not the need of time.a strong personality with strong views,strong focus was needed to change the present conditions of this the right person in my opinion is Mr narendra modi.
Posted by Cermank 2 years ago
I tried to be as explanatory as possible (given the word limit), because I understand not many people would be invested in the Indian politics. But if anyone feels something isn't that clear- feel free to ask me! I promise I'll not make any new argument in the comments, and just explain whatever. I just feel this would be pointless if people are lost.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: reeeddoooooo!!!
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Both debaters appear to have agreed to a "redo", so I'm tying my vote for this debate. If I'm mistaken, let me know.