PM ‘touched’ by St. John’s Manmohan Singh scholarships


New Delhi : It was a sentimental journey for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as he recalled his days as a bright young student in Cambridge University when St John’s College announced scholarships in his honour Tuesday.

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“As I said at St. John’s last year, “Cambridge made me.” The values, the ideals and the discipline instilled in me at Cambridge have lasted through my life,” Manmohan Singh said at a function at his residence where Professor Christopher M. Dobson, Master of St. John’s, announced the scholarship scheme named after him.

The Dr. Manmohan Singh Scholarships have been instituted by St. John’s, one of the pre-eminent colleges of Cambridge University, in areas such as science, technology and social sciences. Manmohan Singh studied economics at St. John’s in the late 1950s.

Recalling the heady days of intellectual ferment when he was a student at St. John’s, Manmohan Singh said the Cambridge will have “a special place in the hearts and minds of Indians”.

The prime minister recalled the illustrious company of fellow students like Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and late Mehboob-ul-Haq, former finance minister of Pakistan, during his Cambridge days.

“To be honoured in this manner by such a great institution is more than I can ask for and certainly more than what I had dreamt of,” the prime minister said.

Always proud of his humble origins, the prime minister did not miss the chance to mention the inclusive vision that animates his government. “Scholarships are an important means of making education available to all sections of society,” he said.

“My life is a living example of what scholarships can do for those who come from less privileged sections of society,” he said.

“I spent the first 10 years of my life in a village without electricity, without any modern infrastructure,” he recalled.

The prime minister spoke about increasing scholarships, especially for children and youth from the less privileged sections of society.

“It is my sincere hope that every young person who has a burning desire to secure education is never denied the light of education for want of the means to finance it,” he said.

St. John’s plan to award 35,000-pound scholarships per annum to each PhD student for up to three years, with three scholarships already planned for the year 2008-09. The first batch of scholarships will be awarded for entry in the autumn of 2008.

The scholarships will be sponsored by a slew of corporates, including Rolls-Royce India, BP Foundation and the Tata Group.

“This scholarship is our way to honour Dr Manmohan Singh for his pioneering role in the economic transformation of his country; one of the greatest achievements of any of our alumni,” said Dobson at a function at which most of St. John’s alumni based in Delhi were present.

“St. John’s College values its strong association with India,” said Dobson while lauding India as “the most populous and vibrant democracy the world has ever known.”