If Manmohan Singh had retired in, say, 2010, his legacy would have been assured.
A man who worked his way up from a small Punjab village to Cambridge; who became chief economic advisor at 40, Reserve Bank of India governor at 50, and finance minister before 60; and, finally, the only prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to be re-elected after completing a full five-year tenure.
Instead, Singh is still prime minister, and his legacy lies tarnished.
The middle class that once acclaimed him as the only honest man in politics now bays for his blood, as the Supreme Court nudges the Central Bureau of Investigation in his direction; someone universally respected as a man of soft-spoken integrity is the butt of endless SMS jokes; the face of Indian reforms to the world is now the subject of international news reports about his failures.
Singh is, after all, an economist, and he can't run away from the numbers, an array of sinking vital indicators that colours his report card a deep crimson.
Quarterly growth rates that were around 8 per cent year-on-year are down to almost half that now.
Growth has halved, but inflation has doubled; consumer-price inflation that was around 5 per cent in 2004-05 is now consistently in double digits.
Text: Mihir S Sharma, Business Standard