Manmohan Singh took over as India’s prime minister this week, putting his Congress party back in control after eight years. Singh, India’s first Sikh prime minister, promised that his government would reflect the “diversity and richness” of the world’s second most populous nation. Without a majority in the 545-seat Parliament, Singh had little choice but to cobble together a broad ruling coalition. The prospect that two powerful communist parties in the mix might push Singh, a 71-year-old economist, to the left caused the Bombay stock exchange to take a nose dive. But Singh’s appointment of seasoned policymakers, including Harvard-trained Palaniappan Chidambaram as finance minister, quickly buoyed the markets. Singh assumed the post after Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of slain prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, announced that she would not become prime minister as expected.
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