Atal Bihari Vajpayee
- Foreign Policy: Vajpayee's foreign policy successes are many. He led India to a victory over Pakistan in 1999 in Kargil and more importantly, he US began to recognize India's position against Pakistan. Relations with China also normalised.
- Economy: The economy stabilised by the time he took over in 1999 and started an unbelievable growth trajectory. He firmly supported disinvestment, but not blind privatisation. As Manmohan Singh said at a recent rally, the economy grew at 5.6% during the Vajpayee tenure, indeed a very impressive growth rate.
- Home Affairs: This is where the Vajpayee Government had its failures. It failed to check the VHP's protests in 2002 in order to celebrate the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He also failed to take any concrete action against Narendra Modi's Government. You may argue that he upheld democracy by allowing the people to judge - and it thus remains debatable wher you can blame him.
- Biggest Embarassment: The Tehelka scandal rocked his ministry and the Coffin scandal involving George Fernandes portrayed his ministry as quite corrupt.
- Biggest Advantage: He's a 10 time Lok Sabha member and has won the "Best Parliamentarian" award. I am pleased to put a distinguished parliamentarian on top of this list.
- Foreign Policy:Jawaharlal Nehru's foreign policy was flawed beyond repair. His Non-Aligned Movement and more importantly, his blind trust of China exploded in his later years. Problems that he created (like Kashmir) haunt India till this day.
- Economy: The Indian economy under Nehru was rebuilding itself. The foundations laid by Nehru were strong enough to sustain India through a lot of dangerous periods. Food security also improved vastly and industrial growth also remained consistent.
- Home Affairs: Democracy took deep roots under Nehru. All institution of independent and democratic India (the courts, the army, the police) were set up and remain strong till this day. If India has survived till this day, a lot of credit goes to Nehru for letting democracy take off in India.
- Biggest Embarassment: The defeat to China will remain forever to portray Nehru's later years as weak and incompetent.
- Biggest Success: DEMOCRACY !!
- Foreign Policy: His single biggest foreign policy success remains the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.
- Economy: The biggest challenge for the Indian economy ever took place in his tenure. The economy still maintained a 6-7% growth rate and never went into recession. Two stimuli packages were announced and a slew of other measures taken. Though the Left clipped his wings, he still managed to bring stability to the economy.
- Home Affairs: Terrorism marked his tenure. The rapidity of attacks increased. Thrice in Delhi, twice in Mumbai - and the Government failed to take any measures. It reached a peak in 2008, only after which the Government removed the Home Minister. It is noticeable that since P Chidambaram took over, only 1 terrorist attack took place.
- Biggest Embarassment: The presence of inefficient and often corrupt ministers like Shibu Soren in his cabinet and the ruckus created during the trust vote marred his credentials.
- Biggest Advantage: A clean image remains his USP. He's slowly being recognized as a man of clean politics.
- Foreign Policy:Indira Gandhi scores highest on foreign policy. She led India to a victory over Pakistan in 1971 and captured 1 lakh Prisoners of War. She presided over India's first nuclear explosion and stood tall before Nixon. She withstood US ire and still managed to reinstill the sense of national pride. It should be noted that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the one who called her "Durga" after the Bangladesh liberation.
- Economy: The economy was a problem during most of Indira Gandhi's tenure. She began with a huge economic crisis and the country went through cycles of deflation and inflation. However, the green revolution that she presided over has ensured India's food security till date.
- Home Affairs: Indira Gandhi could have been on top of the list just that I am not comfortable with the idea of putting on top a person who didn't believe full-heartedly in democracy. A Prime Minister has got to respect democracy. But declaring Emergency and by turning the Congress into a sycophants' club, Indira Gandhi left a very bad legacy for democracy in India.
- Biggest Embarassment: The emergency will continue to define her. All those who say she's the best Prime Minister India had should remember that had the Army not refused to be part of her scheme, our democracy might have been endangered.
- Biggest Advantage: She seems to have been destiny's child. Despite the emergency, she remained so popular with the masses.
- Foreign Policy:He really didn't have much time to formulate a definite foreign policy
- Economy: The economy was heading towards dire straits, but you can't blame VP Singh for it. It was rather the policies followed since the 1970s that resulted in the problem.
- Home Affairs: VP Singh was a man against corruption. He was removed from the Congress for unearthing corruption in the Government and led to the defeat of Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. However, the Mandal politics unearthed by him haunts India till this date. He is the grand daddy of vote bank politics.
- Biggest Embarassment: The Mandal report was tabled in his tenure. Whether it was due to demanding allies or to polarise votes only VP Singh knows.
- Biggest Advantage:He was seen as a man against corruption
For a more recent list (Aug '13), click here.