NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News  » Election » Manmohan Singh, the brother & uncle

Manmohan Singh, the brother & uncle

May 22, 2009 10:55 IST

My brother, the Prime Minister


Gobind Kaur and her family are mostly glued to the television at their south Kolkata home these days, never missing a minute of what's happening in India's political scenario.

After all, a member of their family -- none other than Gobind Kaur's brother -- is at the helm. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.

They take great pride in the fact that Dr Singh, architect of the country's economic reforms, is all set to reprise his role as prime minister, the second leader to hold the post after a full term in office. The only other leader who returned to the top job after a five-year-term was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Kaur's eyes moistened as she recollected her brother's long journey which started in a middle-class family in Pakistan, in 1932.

As soft-spoken as her brother, Kaur and her family arranged for a special prayer recently at a city gurdwara for the incoming government's success.'s Indrani Roy Mitra caught up with Kaur, her son Ravinder Pal Singh and his wife Kuki Sahni to find out more about Dr Singh, the brother and the uncle.

The family recently received a formal invitation from the Prime Minister's Office to attend the swearing-in ceremony.

A family-oriented man

To Kaur, Dr Singh is the most affectionate Papaji> (that's what she calls her brother). To her son and daughter-in-law, he is the best uncle one can have.

"Whenever Mamaji is in Kolkata, he invites us over to Raj Bhavan for tea. Though he wants to stay with us, he cannot, because of security reasons," says the prime minister's nephew Ravinder Pal Singh.

"However, aunty (Dr Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur) visits us pretty often. In fact, she is fully updated on family matters, calls us every week and enquires about our health and other family issues."

"When my father passed away a few years back, aunty visited us that very day. You don't expect such attention and involvement from people who have achieved so much," he adds.

"He is the one who got us married," says Kuki Sahni, beaming. "Whenever we meet, he'd ask me about the kids, their studies etc. If I am facing any problem, he'd give me a very patient hearing and then come up with a brilliant solution."

"I am yet to come across someone wiser than him," she adds.

Image: Gobind Kaur at her south Kolkata home
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

'From where he gets so much energy, I wonder'

Prev     Next

Dr Singh the scholar

"Papaji was a brilliant student, a keen reader and a scholar. His curriculum vitae reads like a dream. He never stood second in his life, literally. My dad would often tell us, 'yeh ladka zindagi mein kuch banega (this boy will do something good in life)'. And he was not wrong," says Kaur.

Taking a cue from Kaur, her son adds, "His erudition is a matter of family pride. His intellect brings as much honour to us as his running the country."

"He works extremely hard and if he can squeeze out even a minute from his busy schedule, he would spend that time reading. From where he gets so much energy, I wonder."

Humility the biggest asset

"Mamaji's biggest asset is his humility. Having climbed the ladder of success, he has his feet firmly on the ground," points out Ravinder.

"Never in his life did he let success go to his head. Even till today, he remains the head of a family of four brothers and six sisters."

"While doing the mammoth task of running the country, he never forgets his duties as a responsible husband, devoted father, attentive eldest brother and an affectionate uncle. Only a genius can don so many caps at a time."

Image: Dr Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur with his sister's family
Photographs: Courtesy: Ravinder Pal Singh
Prev     Next

'Mamaji loved to wear branded clothes'

Prev     Next

An architect of a new economic era

Mamaji (he was then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government) once told me, 'I am doing some experiments in Indian economy. You would get to see its results in future. The steps that I am taking now would pave the way for a new India," Ravinder recalls.

"I was too young to understand the significance of his words. But now I realise what he meant. It was he, who completely transformed the economy of the country."

A great fan of classical music

Mamaji has an extremely busy schedule, he always finds time to listen to good classical music. In fact, earlier when we had more time to spend with each other, we would often talk about music," adds Ravinder.

"Apart from having a great collection of books, Mamaji has a treasure trove of rare music albums at his place. When he first visited the US, he had asked me what I would like to have as a gift and I had requested him to get me a Grundig gramophone with changer."

"And the smile he had smiled then was priceless."

A lover of brands

Mamaji is very fond of brands and loved to wear branded clothes. However, being a public figure, he can't wear them now," says the younger Singh.

"He once got me expensive trousers from the US. He has a very decent choice in clothes."

Image: Ravinder Pal Singh at his South Kolkata home
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
Prev     Next

'He is a man of steely resolve'

Prev     More

A disciplinarian to the core, a man of steely resolve

Dr Singh's kin say he is a disciplinarian to the core and it is his regulated lifestyle that keeps him fit and healthy at 77.

"He is a very light eater. Though he was very fond of red meat in his younger days -- in fact, he would often ask me to cook meat at home -- he is now a strict vegetarian," says Gobind Kaur, Dr Singh's sister.

"No matter what, he would never miss his morning walk or his session at the treadmill. It's really sad that even then he had to undergo bypass surgery. By God's grace, he overcame that crisis and is now fit to rule the country."

"Though he is a workaholic, Mamaji would never bring professional worries home. Even during the July 22 trust vote, he was stressed, but he never let that stress affect his family," reveals Kuki Sahini.

"Though his detractors have often termed him 'a weak prime minister', he is a man of steely resolve. If he makes up his mind about any project and knows for sure that it would be beneficial to the country, he would have that project see the light of the day," she says.

"Be it the nuclear deal or the economic reforms, did you ever see him indulge in any weakness?" she asked.

Gursharan Kaur is an anchor to the family

"Mamaji is too busy these days and we hardly get to spend time with him. However, aunty is a darling and she often acts as the bridge between us," says the prime minister's nephew.

"She always attends every family event, be it a marriage or a shradh. It is she who makes up for the loss by being with us whenever we need her."

"She loves to spend time with us in this house, security hassles notwithstanding. However cliched I may sound, please do let me put on record, 'behind every successful man, there is a woman.'

Image: Gobind Kaur sings for her brother

Prev     More