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Homecoming: Panjab University stint was happiest period of my life, says Manmohan Singh

Speaking fondly of his association with Dr S B Rangnekar, former head of the economics department at PU, Dr Singh — who joined the department, then at Hoshiarpur, in 1952 — said it was he who inspired him to go to Cambridge.

punjab Updated: Apr 13, 2018 10:50 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Panjab University,Manmohan Singh,department of economics
Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, at the department of economics on the Panjab University campus on Wednesday. An alumnus, he spent five minutes getting pictures clicked with the faculty and students. (HT Photo)

For former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, his stint at Panjab University was the happiest period of his life. The 85-year-old alumnus was here to deliver the first Prof SB Rangnekar Lecture organised by the economics department on Wednesday.

Speaking fondly of his association with Dr S B Rangnekar, former head of the economics department at PU, Dr Singh — who joined the department, then at Hoshiarpur, in 1952 — said it was he who inspired him to go to Cambridge.

On his stint as a faculty member in the department when PU shifted to Chandigarh, the former PM said: “Dr Rangnekar and his wife Shalini treated me as a member of their family. That was the happiest period of my life.”

Dr Singh delivered the lecture titled ‘The Seventieth Anniversary of Our Independence – Strengthening the Roots of Our Democracy’ at the Law Auditorium on the campus.

Must read | At home in Panjab University, former PM Manmohan Singh delivers a critique on Modi govt

Trip down memory lane

Economics department chairperson Upinder Sawhney said: “Dr Singh was very happy to be at the department. As he could not climb stairs to the second floor where the department is situated, we made arrangements near the entrance.”

The former PM spent around five minutes at the department and got pictures clicked with the faculty members and students. He also signed a flex board with one of his quotes that will be put on display at the department.

The quote reads: “I am confident about the future of India. I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come. Blending tradition with modernity and unity with diversity, this nation of ours can show the way forward to the world.”

Later, Dr Singh visited the Institute of Social Science Education and Research (ISSER) and spent around 10 minutes with the faculty. He also went to Guru Teg Bahadur Bhawan, where 3,500 books and memorabilia donated by him will be housed.

History professor Reeta Grewal said: “Dr Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, interacted with the faculty and expressed their happiness over collaborative programmes being conducted at ISSER.” The Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) team gave the former PM a presentation on how the space would look like once the books and memorabilia are put there.

Dr Manmohan Singh with faculty of Department of Economics, while signing a poster carrying his quotation. (HT Photo)

‘A teacher admired by all’

After his return from Cambridge, Dr Singh joined PU as a senior lecturer in 1957 and remained here till 1966.

Professor Emeritus HS Shergill, who was his student from 1964-66, said: “Dr Singh was a teacher admired by all in the university. He became a full professor at the age of 33 and at that time, he was already among the top professors in the university. We were the last MA batch taught by him.” Prof Shergill said Dr Singh used to come fully prepared for the lecture every day.

“His delivery used to be so clear that students understood everything. He was very punctual and even students never came late to his class,” he said. Prof Shergill said all students used to stand up to wish Dr Singh when he passed by. “It was not just because he was a teacher but because he was very helpful to students.”

Meanwhile, students who got an opportunity to listen to Dr Singh on Wednesday, were also elated. Nausheen, a research scholar in the economics department said: “I completely agree with Dr Singh’s views on curbing corruption through better governance.

“It is not frequent that you see a person of such stature in person,” said Ankit Khullar, an MA, economics, student.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 12:07 IST