PM recounts journey from obscure Punjab village to Cambridge

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New Delhi, Nov 27 (UNI) For a child who started his life in a village without electricity, having a Cambridge chair named after him is ''more than I could have ever have dreamt of,'' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said.

In an address at the announcement of the Dr Manmohan Singh Cambridge Scholarships at 7, Race Course Road this evening, Dr Singh said with the means of scholarship, a person like him, with a modest background and means, was able to study at all, not to mention at Cambridge, and this was a testimony to the role scholarships can play in social and economic empowerment.

''That is why our government has paid special attention to increasing scholarships, especially for children and youth from the less privileged sections of society,'' Dr Singh said.

Scholarships extended to students from different countries are also an important means of strengthening relations between people across nations and societies, he added.

Thousands of Indian students travel abroad for education. Dr Singh expressed his wish to see a similar inflow of students from India and across the world into the country. ''We are a knowledge-based society and we should be open to the free-flow of knowledge across borders and boundaries.'' Dr Singh said, ''I hope more institutions and corporations will step forward to fund educational scholarships for our students, both at home and abroad.'' He also thanked St. John's College, Rolls Royce India, BP India and Tata Sons, and ''specially my friend, Ratan, for supporting this Scholarship Programme. I hope these scholarships will reinforce the enduring bond between India and Cambridge.'' He said the University of Cambridge has a special place in the hearts and minds of Indians. ''Jawaharlal Nehru studied there and so did Rajiv Gandhi. Sarojini Naidu studied there and so did P C Mahalanobis. J C Bose studied there and so did Homi Bhaba. In my own time, I had the pleasure of the company of such fellow students as Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati, Rehman Subhan, Lal Jayawardena and the late Mehboob-Ul-Haq.'' Dr Singh also said, ''I must, however, offer my deepest and abiding gratitude to those teachers and tutors at Cambridge who accepted me as a student more than half-a-century ago. I must mention the names of R F Kahn, Nicholas Kaldor, Joan Robinson, Maurice Dobb, R C O Mathews and F H Hinsley.'' ''I must also thank my colleagues and superiors at the University of Punjab who made it possible for me to take a scholarship and go to Cambridge. As I said at St. John's last year, ''Cambridge made me''. The values, the ideas and the discipline instilled in me at Cambridge have lasted through my life,'' Dr Singh said.


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