It was on August 6, 2009, that Panjab University authorities announced their plans of setting up a chair in the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at department of economics.
But till now, nothing concrete has been done. The PM is an alumnus of the department. ''I cannot comment on this issue. Only vice-chancellor or finance and development officer (FDO) can tell you about the research going on under this chair,'' PU registrar A K Bhandari told TOI. FDO Vikram Nayar said, ''We have no knowledge about the chair and cannot comment on its existence. Our duty is to provide funding whenever we get a request from any department. If we are required to allot funds for research under this chair, we will do so.'' PU syndicate had decided about setting up this chair on August 2. Sources said vice-chancellor R C Sobti had floated the proposal.
The main focus of this chair was to do research regarding Indian economy. Sobti was not available for comments on the non-existent chair as he was out of town on Friday. Manmohan Singh studied for his graduation and post-graduation in economics at PU in the 1950s. Later, he joined the university as a lecturer in the mid-60s and went on to become a professor at the age of 32. PU authorities had also decided to devote a separate room in economics department to carry out research work under this chair.
They had also written to Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, inviting him here to carry out research under this chair, but he did not respond. Gurmail Singh, chairperson of economics department, said, ''I am not authorized to give comments to media. These high-level decisions are taken up by authorities and you should talk to them.'' PU, one of the oldest universities of the country, was established in 1882 at Lahore and was shifted to Chandigarh in 1956. ''There are many things in PU related to academics, which only remain on paper.
During the last five years, many announcements were made just to please politicians and Manmohan Singh Chair is one of them,'' a former professor of PU told TOI. He added, ''In 2009, PU had to invite PM to the campus in November. So they made this announcement in August.'' Another PU professor, said, ''We do not know about any research work carried out under this chair. Why would Amartya Sen come to Chandigarh, a small city, to do research?''