Manmohan Singh was a loner at Oxford, says former teacher

Published on May 21, 2004 12:28 PM IST

He was very quiet, not the sort who make great politicians," said Dr Ian Little, Manmohan Singh's supervisor at the Oxford University.

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PTI | ByPrasun Sonwalkar (IANS), Oxford

Dons at Oxford University remember Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh for his quiet nature, hard work and brilliance in producing a thesis on India's exports as a student in the early 1960s.

Singh studied for a DPhil in Economics at Nuffield College between 1960 and 1962.

He has been an Honorary Fellow of the college since 1994.

Dr Ian Little, who was Singh's college supervisor, said: "I am fairly surprised about his taking over as the Prime Minister. When he was here he was very quiet, not the sort who make great politicians."

Singh's other supervisor was Nobel laureate, Sir John Hicks.

Dr Little, who has published academic work on India's economic reforms, said that as a student, Singh was "very diligent, hard working and ended up with an excellent thesis".

"He did not mix a great deal with other students. He was somewhat of a loner," Little said.

According to him, even though he was Singh's supervisor, he learnt from him rather than the other way round, about India's export sector.

In the early 1960s, convention wisdom was that the reason for India's sluggish export was factors external to India. But Singh produced a "convincing case" in his thesis to show that the reason for this lay within India, with New Delhi's policies.

"I certainly learnt that from him," Little said, and added that his thesis was later published as a book.

As a student, did Singh ever go pubbing — a popular activity of university students in Britain?

"Not that I know of. He was not very social; in fact he was notable for not being very social," Dr Little said.

He said he had remained in touch with Singh and had met him periodically during his tenure as the finance minister in the PV Narasimha Rao Government.

"It has been a huge surprise that the Congress got back to power. I expected him to be the finance minister again, but prime minister? I am fairly surprised with that," Dr Little said.

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