My father has clear conscience: PM’s daughter Daman Singh

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
Monday, January 24, 2011

JAIPUR - Novelist Daman Singh, the daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, says the three attributes that set her father apart from the rest are his clear conscience, integrity and simplicity. Not interested in his professional life, the author wants to look at her parents just as “human beings” in her biography.

“My father has a very strong and clear conscience. His main objective is to serve his conscience rather than please someone else. He has to satisfy the needs of his own conscience so that it remains clear. His integrity and inherent simplicity are also his greatest traits,” Daman Singh told IANS at the ongoing DSC Jaipur Literature Festival.

“His austere lifestyle is his personal philosophy that he inculcated from icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and a whole generation of freedom fighters in his youth. They influenced him in that direction,” the novelist said.

She has authored two fiction works, “Nine by Nine” and the “The Sacred Grove”, published by HarperCollins-India. The biography of her parents, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and wife Gurcharan Kaur, will be her third literary venture and her first work of non-fiction.

“My mother is one of the most sociable and friendly persons I have ever met…She is also extremely caring with a drive to constantly help people. She is lot of fun, cheerful and a humorous person to be with,” said Daman Singh, the second of the prime minister’s three daughters.

She has started researching for the book and says “it was time-consuming”. But at the same time is clear that she wants “to focus on them as human beings”. “My father’s professional life does not interest me. I have no influence in their public lives,” she said.

“At this stage, I am talking to my parents, family friends and relatives about their experiences from their early childhood till the present day. I want real accounts of events that had taken place at that time. They were indirectly affected by partition as children and I have read at least a dozen books to understand partition and their lives in context of the event,” Daman Singh said.

However, she does not pin down her parents’ “resilience, integrity and strength to the trauma of dislocation and horrors of partition”.

“Both of them were children; so I cannot say that it (partition) had the biggest impact on their lives,” she said.

Daman Singh said her “parents had a normal arranged marriage”. “They were introduced to each other and then they exercised their choice. Either of them had the freedom to say no,” she said.

But despite their conservative childhood, the author said her parents have been liberal with their three daughters.

“The way they accepted my sister’s decision and my decision to choose our husbands is reflective of their liberal outlook. They gave us total freedom and even if they had reservations, they kept it to themselves. We knew that they had hoped otherwise,” she said.

Daman Singh added that she hoped to complete her parents’ biography in two years.

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