It's hard to believe Manmohan Singh is a revolutionary. His speeches tend towards the academic rather than the inspirational the legacy, perhaps, of more than a decade spent teaching economics. But more than anyone else over the past two decades, it is Singh who has been the decisive figure in India's economic resurgence and newfound confidence in the world. As finance minister between 1991 and 1996 the softspoken Singh opened up India's heavily regulated economy, dismantled the "License Raj" that had stifled competition for decades, and allowed foreign investors into Indian markets and businesses. The result: faster growth and greater prosperity for tens of millions. Now, all Singh has to do is keep up the momentum. Handed the Prime Minister's job by Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi in 2004, Singh has proved himself fairly adroit at balancing the need for further reform with the go-slow demands of his government's leftist coalition partners. He's unlikely to oversee a big bang of change again, but thanks to his efforts, India's direction seems set.
By Simon Robinson
Next Lakshmi Mittal