‘Attractive phrase’: Manmohan Singh on PM’s ‘Harvard vs hard work’ remark
What does a former Prime Minister with multiple degrees from both Oxford and Cambridge think about the NDA regime’s disdain of elite education? In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had famously coined the phrase ‘Harvard versus hard work’ when dismissing the forecasts of well-known economists like Amartya Sen about the impact of demonetisation. When asked, Dr Manmohan Singh said, “Attractive catch phrases can never replace indelible commitment to India’s prosperity.”
Listing the names of a number of leaders such as Dr Ambedkar, Homi Bhabha, Dr Hargobind Khurana and Dr APJ Kalam, all known for their scholarly abilities, he said, “They did not brag about their hardships or their humble backgrounds. Despite being subjected to high degree of poverty and social discrimination. Dr BR Ambedkar went to the United States on a scholarship and later studied in London School of Economics. Should we question these men and women’s hard work or contribution to the country?’’
HT also asked Dr Singh if he identified with Prime Minister Modi when it came to coming from modest backgrounds. If Narendra Modi once sold tea to make ends meet, Dr Singh is from a migrant family from Pakistan and walked miles to school every day.
However, the former PM rejected this by saying, “One must not wear his humbleness as a tool for self-aggrandisement. Progress of the country and policies of the successive governments in last 70 years have played a definite role in creation of opportunities and empowerment. They played a role in making me what I am today, and they played their part in Mr. Modi’s life too. As I said earlier,there is a long list of men and women from humble backgrounds who reached the highest offices in India.”