India's First Non-Hindu Leader

The founders of modern India knew that the only way to hold together such a diverse country was through secular government. In recent elections, voters decided to return to that basic necessity.

They threw out the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came to power in 1998 under the banner of Hindu nationalism, and gave power back to the nation's founding party, Congress.

That result alone was a big surprise. But then the party's leader, Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow who carries the name of India's dynastic family, decided not to become prime minister, partly because her foreign birth was an issue. Instead, she backed Manmohan Singh, a follower of the Sikh religion and India's most accomplished economic reformer, to take the post. He'll be India's first non-Hindu leader.

This is a noble, historic development for the world's largest democracy. It will help keep India safer from the sectarian violence that's marked the last couple decades and helped the BJP come to power.

Dr. Singh, a British-trained economist who comes from Punjab, a Sikh stronghold, can also help redirect the market reforms he started as a minister in 1991 to better uplift the poor, uniting India even further.

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