New Delhi: Delivering a lecture here on Friday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that in a democratic country like India, there is no room for authoritarianism and advised the leaders to "temper the harshness of change".
Singh was addressing a gathering of business leaders and press as chief guest at the Changemakers 2019 Award ceremony organised by The Hindu Business Line.
"Often I am asked if my perspective and views changed when I became Prime Minister in 2004. Obviously... as Prime Minister, you have to factor in political and social implications.
"After all, no innovation, especially in the public policy realm, can succeed without a reasonable consensus about it. We have opted for a democratic path for ourselves. There is no room for authoritarian imposition from above," he said in his speech.
"Perhaps I may be allowed to add that it is responsibility of the political leadership to temper the harshness of change, especially for the more vulnerable sections of the society," he added.
Singh remembered the economic reforms of 1991, considered a watershed moment in the Indian economy, as something which could be done because "some of us had faith in India and Indian people".
"Without that faith in the ability of the Indian people to absorb and appreciate change, the 1991 change would not have happened," he said.
He advised the business leaders to "accept the mantra of change" while denouncing the "negative perceptions" and "hostile narrative" built against them.
"Honest businessmen and genuine entrepreneurs must never be allowed to feel harassed by the petty officials. Unfortunately, trust between the government and business stands eroded," Singh said.