The Singhs of 7 RCR: Another five years in spotlight

May 21st, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) They are a close-knit, unassuming and publicity shy lot — very much like pater familias Manmohan Singh, 76. As he assumes charge as prime minister for the second time, his wife and three daughters, who were self-confessedly “not interested in politics” at one time, are set for another five years of life in a bubble.
The anchor of the family is Gursharan Kaur, Singh’s wife of 50 years. She is everyone’s idea of the perfect lady next door — quiet, courteous and dignified.

“For my husband, work is his religion. He hasn’t had a single holiday in last five years and the most he missed out was spending time with the family,” Gursharan Kaur had told CNN-IBN in a rare interview just before the April-May elections.

The polls have since returned the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to power, and much of the credit for its victory has gone to the self-effacing Manmohan Singh.

Another five years as prime minister will, however, mean he will again miss out on many precious moments with his wife and daughters - Upender, Daman and Amrit - all of whom are highly qualified professionals, just like their father.

The family, particularly Manmohan Singh’s wife, would also have to sacrifice many simple pleasures.

“I certainly miss my driving, trips to Mother Dairy or to other fruits and vegetables markets,” Gursharan Kaur, who lives with Manmohan Singh at the 7 Race Course Road, the official residence of the prime minister.

It’s a family that likes to get together. They watch TV for news and not soaps, sources say. They have also managed to keep the media at bay all these years, with the daughters pursuing their chosen careers.

Upender, the eldest, is head of the department of history and political science at St. Stephen’s College. Her husband, Vijay Tankha, is head of the department of philosophy in the same college.

Daman, who has a degree in mathematics from St. Stephen’s, is a consultant with The Energy Research Institute (TERI). Her husband, Ashok Patnaik, is a joint director in the Intelligence Bureau.

“We were never interested in politics (as a family) and I think he (Manmohan Singh) will be a little nervous (about the rest of the family joining politics) as he once told I don’t want to offend you but it is better you have an independent career and not mix your career with mine,” said Daman.

Incidentally, both Upender and Daman have penned books in the past year in their own right.

The youngest daughter, Amrit, studied law in the United States and is currently staff attorney with the American Civil Rights Union (ACLU) in New York, working on its Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The last time the family went on a holiday was to Nainital way back in the 70s. And given that Manmohan Singh will be steering the country again, it is likely to be a long time before they go on their next one.

As Daman had said: “I have now become comfortable with the idea that yes, this is what it involves.”

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