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PM talks about his 'first love'

"I was called in by an UNCTAD official who tried to persuade me to reconsider my decision but...," recalls Manmohan.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 15:05 IST

Fond memories of a teacher in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were revived on Wednesday when he said joining the Delhi School of Economics after giving up a lucrative UN assignment was a "fulfilling" moment for him although it shocked his well wishers.

"Teaching is my first love. I had always wanted to be a teacher," Manmohan Singh said at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Faculty of Management Studies at the Delhi School of Economics, where he taught in the late 1960s.

"I had often visited the Delhi School when I was in Punjab. To be invited on its faculty was a truly fulfilling moment," he said, while also recollecting the day when he left the teaching profession with a heavy heart to join the Government.

"I recall that I was in New York, at the UN, when the opportunity to teach at Delhi School presented itself to me. My colleagues were shocked when I informed them that I would give up my UN job to return home," he said.

"I was called in by the Secretary General of UNCTAD who tried to persuade me to reconsider my decision. I then told him I sincerely believed that something exciting was happening in India and I wanted to be a part of it," he said.

"It was not the 1950s, the years of great hope and excitement for economists. It was the 1960s, when India was dealing with one crisis after another," he said, recalling the famine, balance of payments crisis and social unrest of that era.

The Prime Minister said he was convinced then that if there was one place in the world where he would like to work, it was India, and if there was one institution to be at, it was the Delhi School.

"But when the call to move to Government came I took up that challenge. I was seized by an urge to try and make a difference. It was a difficult decision to make because Delhi School was a truly hospitable place," he said.

"I merely drifted into Government, pulled by a sense of duty to the country."

The Prime Minister said his contemporaries at that time were charged by a sense of patriotism and wanted to do things for India, make the country a better place to live in and study its various aspects of development and its society.

"Today, there is once again a need to renew this commitment to excellence in education, even as we in Government focus our attention on questions of access."

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 14:11 IST