Nepal’s strong Chandigarh connections

August 30th, 2011 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Aug 30 (IANS) It is not usual for the head of a state and the leader of the government of that country to have a strong bond with a city in another nation. But that is true for Nepal — its president and the newly-sworn prime minister have been alumni of institutions of this union territory.

With Baburam Bhattarai being sworn-in as the prime minister of Nepal Monday, Chandigarh now has a doubly strong connection with the Himalayan country.

Bhattarai studied at the Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA) here (1972-77) and pursued his bachelors degree in Architecture while Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav, did his postgraduation in internal medicine from the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here in 1985.

Bhattarai’s batchmates in the CCA recall him as a “workaholic, studious and determined” student who “hardly showed any interest in politics” at that time.

“I spoke to Baburam today morning and he relates to Chandigarh with the same passion. We were a small group of only 30 students and all were quite close,” Gurnek Singh, a retired army colonel, told IANS here.

“We used to go to the PGI for hot paranthas at night and to a nearby tea stall. We used to play football to pass time and go for movies,” he recounted.

The CCA, established in 1961, completes 50 years later this year. CCA authorities are now thinking of roping in batchmates of Bhattarai to invite him for the golden jubilee celebrations.

“We are proud of him… We will celebrate his elevation in the college,” CCA Principal Pradeep Bhagat said here.

CCA is situated within the sprawling Punjab Engineering College campus here in Sector 12, where astronaut Kalpana Chawla studied aeronautical engineering.

Bhattarai, who joined the CCA under the Colombo Plan scholarship programme, used to live here in a hostel. He shared his hostel room with another student from Nepal, Yogeshwar Prajuri.

Bhattarai later went to Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture for his masters degree and later did his doctorate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Another batchmate of Bhattarai, Sumit Kaur, is now the chief architect of Chandigarh - a city designed by French architect Le Corbusier.

“I have fond memories of Baburam. He was a hard working student who wanted to top in the class. He was studious and determined,” Kaur said.

Ram Baran Yadav visited his alma mater PGIMER February this year. He was the chief guest at the 31st convocation of the institute.

Getting nostalgic during his address at PGIMER, Yadav remembered Chandigarh for its famous Sukhna Lake, apart from its cleanliness, architecture and other things.

He said his son and daughter-in-law, besides his personal physician studied medicine at the same institute.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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