Education, and reading in particular, has always been important to Manmohan Singh. As a young boy he often read by candlelight, a practice which has unfortunately led to his now poor vision. It is perhaps this childhood love of reading which inspired him to recently proclaim an initiative to link 9,000 Indian libraries all across the country in order to provide greater access to knowledge. He has often echoed the need to cultivate a love for books among Indian children: “While publishing houses may worry more about the number of books sold, we in the government must focus on the number of books read. The challenge for us is to widen the population of readers.”
Manmohan Singh is not only a reader, but a writer as well. As someone who holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics, Singh has published many articles as well as a book on Indian trade policy. All of Singh’s children are educated and successful individuals. One of his daughters, Daman Singh, is an author who has written two works of fiction, Nine by Nine and The Last Frontier.
In a speech given to the Indian Parliament during an unprecedented economic crisis, Singh quoted the French novelist Victor Hugo’s statement that “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.” He later explained to an interviewer that the quote articulated his vision of an India “free from poverty, ignorance and disease,” and on its way to becoming a strong power in the global economy. By invoking the wisdom of Hugo at a crucial moment in India’s history, the Prime Minister demonstrated his belief in the power of words to inspire change.