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PU’s oldest ‘old boys’ are stars of global alumni meet

By HT Correspondent | HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON NOV 29, 2019 01:40 AM IST

They were the stars of the Panjab University alumni reunion, and the oldest of its ‘old boys.’

For 90-year-old Satya Vrat Shastri, a decorated Sanskrit scholar, writer, grammarian and poet and 89-year-old Heera Luthra, a student from the first batch of DM College in Moga, who went on to become its principal, these were moments to be prized.

Among the alumna, 76-year-old Rajinderjeet Hans Gill, PU’s first woman dean university instructions (DUI) and her 68-year-old former student, Sudesh Kaur Khanduja, were delighted to have met again at the alumni meet hosted by Panjab University on Wednesday.

Shastri, who graduated in arts from PU’s Lahore campus in 1949, has written three Mahakavyas (genre of Indian epic poetry), three Khandkavyas (composed in the manner of an epic highlighting a particular section), one Prabandhakavya and one Patrakavya (forms of Sanskit poetry) and five works in critical writing in Sanskrit.

Satya Vrat Shashtri , 90 (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Satya Vrat Shashtri , 90 (Ravi Kumar/HT)

Currently an honorary professor at the special centre for Sanskrit studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Shastri was dean of the faculty of arts at Delhi University and also heading its Sanskrit department.

Among his numerous awards, Shastri has won the Sahitya Akademi Award for Sanskrit, given by the Sahitya Akademi in 1968 for his poetry, Srigurugovindasimhacharitam. He also became the first recipient of the Jnanpith award in Sanskrit language in 2006.

FROM STUDENT TO PROFESSOR

Luthra joined Moga’s DM College in 1951, as a student of its first batch. After that, he joined the University of Lucknow for his masters in law and public administration.

Heera Luthra, 89 (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Heera Luthra, 89 (Ravi Kumar/HT)

In 1995, he became a lecturer and eventually, in the 1960s, he joined PU’s Shimla campus as a professor.

He served there till the 1990s after which he went to the US to pursue his PhD from the University of Arizona and later retired from there as professor.

VARSITY FIRST WOMAN DUI RECOUNTS GOLDEN DAYS

For Gill, one of PU’s first women DUIs, being with her student, Khanduja, was a moment to treasure.

Of her teacher, who graduated from the Ludhiana campus of the varsity in 1962 with a mathematics masters and later joined PU as a teacher in the mathematics department, Khanduja says,”one of my fondest memories of the university era was with Gill ma’am. I joined PU as a teacher later. At that time Gill ma’am was the only female faculty at the department because of which we became very close.”

Rajinderjeet Hans Gill, 76 (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Rajinderjeet Hans Gill, 76 (Ravi Kumar/HT)

If it wasn’t for PU they would not have become such good friends, say Khanduja and Gill.

Interestingly, all of Gill’s family members are PU alumni. Her son graduated from the chemistry department, daughter from the statistics department and her husband from the botany department. Her brothers studied in the mathematics and economics departments.

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