Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: A Teacher Who Cared About His Students

Subodh Mathur

Subodh was born in Alwar, and educated in St. Xavier Schoo, Jaipur, St.Stepehn's Collge, Delhi, Delhi School of Econmics, and MIT,Cambridge, USA. He taught economics for one year at Rajasthan University, Jaipur, and now teaches economics at the American University, Washington, D.C. He lives with his wife, Anuradha Deolalikar, and two children in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In his spare time, he is an avid gardener, and the editor of this website.

To be honest, after 42 years, I don’t remember much about former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s teaching style.

In 1972, I was an M.A. (final) Economics student at the Delhi School of Economics. Manmohan Singh used to teach International Economics, and I was one of the many students in his class.

One day, in early 1972, we learnt that he had taken a job as an economist in the Government of India. Such a development was not a surprise to the students of Delhi School of Economics at that time. In particular, Professor Sukhamoy Chakravarty had recently become a Member of the Planning Commission.

For the students, the key question was: Who would teach his class after Manmohan Singh left? If a replacement was not found quickly, then it would be difficult to cover the full syllabus. And, that would mean that the students would be in trouble in the examination, which was scheduled for April 1972.

Prof. Manmohan Singh told us that he would come to Delhi School earlier in the morning, and teach his class, before going to his office.

This did come as a surprise, at least to me. There were other professors at Delhi School whose priorities did not seem to include students. Yet, he was willing to make time for his students.

Again, I don't quite remember what exactly Manmohan Singh taught us early in the morning class. As I remember it, I was not one of the students who made a serious effort to get up early in the morning to get to any professor's class. So, perhaps, I missed some, or many, of his classes.

I have forgotten many things about my time at the Delhi School. But, this gesture has remained in my mind. Manmohan Singh was a teacher who cared about his students.

© Subodh Mathur 2014


Subodh,glad to read your observation of Singh is King, especially, no one now is talking good of the poor professor. Incidentally Delhi School of Economics also gave Dr. V K R V RAO(popularly known as the ABC RAO) as a Minister to the Govt.of India. Much before Manmohan Singh. Lets see if any one else has such interesting anecdotes.

I am often angry at the Indian media making fun of Mr. Manmohan Singh. Recently I read Patrick French's book India- A Portrait that includes a few pages about Mnamohan Singh and how he transformed Indian economy in 1991. I had briefly met him in 2002 when he came to the house of Mr. Mantosh Sondhi to pay his respects to his widow. Accompanied by Mrs Gursharan Kaur, his wife they stayed for a cup of tea. At the time he was not in power. Introduced to him as a visiting NRI I was impressed by his lack of airs and pretentiousness. Mr Singh's accomplishments are many and I wish he would get the respect he deserves.

It was in the summer of 1960 whan Radhakrishnan was the Vice-President of India. Some of us, students from ISI-Kolkota sought an appointment to meet Radhakrishnan at his residence. Our appointment time was 8;30 am. We reached there by 8:15 am. Either Radhakrishnan was running late with his apppointments or Pandit Nehru had dropped in without an appointment. Nehru was waiting in the Hall inside while we were seated outside in the Verandah while Radhakrishnan was taking bath. Radhakrishnan walked out of the bathroom holding one ned of the dhoti making folds to tuck it in. He asked Pandit Nehru: "Were you listening to the News Panditji?" Pandit Nehru still looking at the headlines in the news paper answers. "Yes". Radhakrishnan asked "How many people were injured in Arth Kumbhamela?". Nehru: "I did not pay attention to the exact number". Radhakrishnan called his personal assistant to bring the Oxford English Dictionary and give it to Pandit Nehru. He did that as suggested. Radhakrishnan: "Panditji look at the meaning of the word "Listen"". Nehru: "to pay attention to what one is going to say". That was the relationship they had between them. Nehru had similar relationship with other great scholars like PC Mahalanobis, Meghnad Saha, Vikram Sarabhai. The Nehruvian period of India's governance is something that must not be forgotten.

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