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India's History-Making Prime Minister

India's history can be traced as far back as 5,000 years, but democratic government in that nation is only about 54 years old. India's government is an important symbol of liberty. It represents India's freedom from British rule. India was a British colonly for over 80 years before it gained its independence.

On May 22, 2004, India made history again. The country welcomed its 14th prime minister to office, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Dr. Singh is the first Sikh prime minister of India. Sikhs are one of India's religious minorities. The majority of Indians are Hindus. India also has Muslims (followers of Islam) and Christians.

Before Dr. Singh became prime minister, he was the finance minister and he worked to improve India's economy. It can be hard for people to find jobs that pay well in India, and many Indian families cannot afford to send their children to school. Dr. Singh is working to expand India's economy and to provide better job opportunities.

The Education of a Prime Minister

Dr. Singh grew up in poverty in northern India. He had a passion for learning, and he enjoyed school. He went on to attend some of the best colleges in the world, including the University of Cambridge and Oxford University, which are in England.

In his studies, he learned about business and economics. He brought his knowledge back to India and shared his expertise with his homeland. Dr. Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, have three daughters. He and his wife live in the prime minister's residence in the national capital, New Delhi.

A Prime Minister's Role

Since 1950, India has been a constitutional democracy. Although India has a president, the prime minister holds the most power and is the head of the government. India also has a parliament, which is the nation's legislative body.

As head of India's government, the prime minister has many responsibilities. Dr. Singh's first job was to choose the government's ministers, or leaders of its different departments. The prime minister and the ministers then shape foreign and domestic policy.

India and the Future

Dr. Singh faces many challenges. India's future looks bright, but change is occurring rapidly in the nation. Some parts of its economy are growing quickly. For instance, India is now a leading provider of global computer services. Yet at the same time, many people are still jobless and poor. Many of these people voted for Dr. Singh, who is attempting to bring jobs to their communities.

India sees new opportunities for better relations with its longtime foe, Pakistan. The two nations have fought to control the Kashmir region along their border, but recent moves by both governments suggest that the two nations both want to build a more peaceful relationship in coming years. They have begun meeting together to work out some of their problems.

Dr. Singh's election to prime minister demonstrates India's hope to continue its prospering economy and successful democracy.