PM-to-be promises 'humane reform'

India’s prime minister-in-waiting, Manmohan Singh, assured the nation today that he would work to restore harmony and continue economic reforms with “a human face”.

India’s prime minister-in-waiting, Manmohan Singh, assured the nation today that he would work to restore harmony and continue economic reforms with “a human face”.

“Unity and communal harmony are a priority,” the soft-spoken economist said at his home in New Delhi. He said peace with rival Pakistan was also a priority.

India’s president named Singh prime minister yesterday, ending a week of political turmoil in which Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow at the head of India’s most powerful political dynasty and largest party, declined to become prime minister.

Instead, the Congress party leader chose Singh, the 71-year-old former finance minister behind India’s dramatic market reforms of the 1990s.

Wearing a white Nehru-collar shirt and a light blue, traditional Sikh turban, Singh addressed the nation shortly before the opening of India’s stock markets.

“No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. The emergence of India as a major global economic power happens to be one such idea whose time has come,” he said.

He said economic reforms would continue, but that ”reforms with a human face will be pursued”.

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