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Panjab University to host its pre-1970 alumni, including PM

Friday December 03, 2010 11:21:13 AM, Jaideep Sarin, IANS

Chandigarh: It's an institution that has had the likes of a president, prime ministers, union cabinet ministers, Nobel laureates, governors, chief ministers, actors and other distinguished people on its rolls.

As Panjab University in Chandigarh gets down to hosting its biggest alumni meet in February next year - what it calls the "first of its kind of event ever organised at the university level" in India - a lot of other notable people from around the globe too are likely to be part of it.

The unique alumni meet is for the real old-timers of the university - those who graduated or did their post-graduation from the institution prior to 1970.

"The event to be held Feb 19-20 will be the first of its kind ever organised at the university level in India. Many unknown alumni who are serving Indian society and people abroad in various capacities will have an opportunity to visit their alma mater," Panjab University vice chancellor R.C. Sobti told IANS.

"They can share their nostalgic memories and experiences in a personal interaction with the students and faculty of the university," he added.

Established in 1882 in Lahore, now in Pakistan, Panjab University was relocated to its present sprawling campus in Chandigarh's Sector 14 and 25 in 1956. It is one of the oldest universities in the country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leads the list of alumni from the university. He was a student of the university in the 1950s and later became part of the faculty in the economics department. At the young age of 32 years, he became a professor in the varsity.

Sobti said besides the prime minister, five of his cabinet colleagues, including Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Sports minister M.S. Gill are the university's alumni.

Former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral is also an alumnus of the university. Former president Shankar Dayal Sharma, who died in 1999, had also studied there.

Other notable alumni from the university include Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, her husband and former governor Swaraj Kaushal, Nobel laureate Hargobind Khorana, late Indian American astronaut Kalpana Chawla, first Nobel laureate from Pakistan Mohammed Abdus Salam and India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi.

Also in the list are Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra, actor Anupam Kher, singer Jagjit Singh, comedian-actor Jaspal Bhatti, and Jnanpith award winner and Sanskrit scholar Satya Vrat Shastri.

"Panjab University can boast of numerous high-ranking alumni who have made a tangible mark in various domains of society, nation and the world," Ajaib Singh, director of the university's Centre for Life Long Learning, told IANS.

After the partition of the country in August 1947, Panjab University had to function at different places for almost one decade before settling on its present campus here.

While the administrative office was located at Solan which was earlier in Punjab and is now in Himachal Pradesh, the teaching departments functioned from Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Delhi and Amritsar.

The university's red sandstone campus, designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret under the guidance of renowned French architect and Chandigarh's creator Le Corbusier, came up within a few years. It is spread over an area of 550 acres.

Till the re-organisation of Punjab in November 1966, the university used to cater to areas in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

With an annual budget of Rs.2 billion (Rs.200 crore), Panjab University has a unique status of being neither a complete central university nor a state one. It is funded by the central and Punjab governments in the 60:40 ratio.

The university now has 75 teaching and research departments besides 15 centres and chairs. It has nearly 190 affiliated colleges spread over Punjab and Chandigarh.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at





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