Singh back at alma mater

HEAD OF NEHRU CHAIR AT PANJAB UNIVERSITY

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 7.04.16
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Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 6: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to head a chair in Panjab University, where he was once a student and later a teacher more than half a century ago.

Singh has accepted the offer to head the Jawaharlal Nehru Chair, his private secretary G. Muralidharan told The Telegraph.

Muralidharan said it was an honorary position. "He may visit the university occasionally, meet students and teachers and deliver lectures on topics he likes."

Singh had done his BA in economics in 1952 from Panjab University and completed his master's in 1954, ranking first in the university in both. He joined the varsity as a senior lecturer in 1957 and became a professor in 1963 before joining the UN in New York in 1966.

Vineet Punia, the varsity's public relations director, thanked Singh for accepting the offer. "We are grateful to Professor Singh. He has a long relation with our university. His association with the institution as the head of the Chair will inspire students, teachers and the public," Punia said.

Singh, who was Prime Minister till May 2014, has of late been seen at various public events of academic interest. Last week, the 83-year-old attended a meeting held in the memory of Charusita Chakravarty, the daughter of his late colleague Sukhamoy Chakravarty who taught at Delhi School of Economics.

Charusita Chakravarty, also a former teacher, died last month.

Singh also attended a condolence meeting on historian Bipan Chandra, who passed away in 2014.

The former Prime Minister, a Rajya Sabha member, however, makes it a point to be present in the House every day when a session is on.

Singh's alma mater has also offered Chairs to economist and former JNU vice-chancellor Y.K. Alagh and eminent social worker Ela Bhatt.

Alagh, who has accepted the offer to head the Manmohan Singh Chair, told this paper he would visit the university next month. "In these positions, you are expected to interact with students and teachers and participate in seminars and deliver lectures on inter-disciplinary areas," the 77-year-old academic, currently the vice-chairman of the Sardar Patel Institute of Economics and Social Research in Ahmedabad, said over the phone.

Bhatt, too, has accepted the varsity's offer to head the Mahatma Gandhi Chair but the 82-year-old couldn't be reached for comment despite repeated calls and an email.

The Gandhian, who founded the Self-Employed Women Association cooperative bank, had earlier been honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay award, given in the field of social work, in 1977 and the Padma Bhushan in 1986.

Punia said the university had requested lyricist Gulzar and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi to head the Rabindranath Tagore Chair and the Lal Bahadur Shastri Chair, respectively, but neither had confirmed whether they would accept the offers.

The Chair positions are offered for three years.

Panjab University, an inter-state institution run by the Punjab government and the Centre, has established itself as a research institution and was ranked between 225 and 250 by the London-based Times Higher Education two years ago.

It stood 12th among universities in the first-ever ranking of educational institutions the human resource development ministry released recently.