New Delhi: Describing himself as "aam aadmi", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he has reached the top post because of his education which plays an important role in moulding one`s life.
"I am an aam aadmi (common man). If I can become the Prime Minister, then so can you. I came from a very ordinary, lower-middle class family. It is because of my education that I am what I am.
"So I think education has played a very important role in making me what I am," the economist-turned-Prime Minister said during a talk organised by a TV channel with a group of children at his residence on the occasion of Children`s Day.
He was asked how an aam aadmi can become a Prime Minister.
Singh was dismissive of the opposition calling him a "weak" Prime Minister.
"It does not make much of a difference to me. I think if I am doing something right, then my conscience will tell me that. To criticise is the opposition`s job. I am not afraid of that," he said.
Appearing relaxed, 77-year-old Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur seated by his side, answered with ease questions from children ranging from Maoists violence, coalition politics, move to abolish tenth board examination, poor students not getting education, his fondness for blue turban and his favourite sweet.
Appearing relaxed, 77-year-old Singh with his wife Gursharan Kaur seated by his side, answered with ease questions from children ranging from rising prices and coalition politics.
The Prime Minister said government was trying very hard to control the price rise. "We are trying to stabilise the prices and we hope in a year we will see a better control on the price rise".
Asked why he spoke very little, he said, "when you have a coalition government to run, there is no use in talking too much. And I think things get complicated when you talk more".
Singh was dismissive of opposition descrbing him as a "weak" Prime Minister.
"It does not make much of a difference to me.... To criticise is the opposition`s job. I am not afriad of that". he said.
On why he was trying to keep the dialogue process with Pakistan going, he said peace and amity was important between the two countries.
About the violence in the North East, Singh said he was aware that the situation particularly in Assam and Manipur was not okay.
"Efforts are being undertaken to control extremist organisations like ULFA. We are trying to control them. We will be able to control them in the days to come," he said.
On why Indians win Nobel prize only after they leave the country, Singh said, "in India we do not have an atmosphere where much importance is give to people who can think out of box."
"The trend of questioning things has not been a part of our education system and this is why we see that when Indian children go abroad, they do much better in terms of education and reasearch."
Singh recalled the first time he had met Jawaharlal Nehru who had come to the Punjab university for the convocation address. He was then teaching at the university.
"It was a most moving experience for me because he used to talk to anyone who had the courage to walk up to him. It was life`s wish of many to touch Pandit Nehru`s hand but his security forces would not let that happen," he said.