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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Dr. P N Thapar, First Vice Chancellor of PAU, Ludhiana

Dr. Prem Nath Thapar was appointed the first Vice Chancellor of the new Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana in 1962 and remained in that position until 1968, when he suffered a paralytic stroke. He is credited for the gathering of the group of scientists that ushered in the Green Revolution in Punjab in the 1960s. In his honour, the Dr. P N Thapar Gold Medal is awarded to the best all round graduate of the university every year. He served on the Board of the International Rice Research Institute from 1964-1966, and the President of the Indian Agricultural Universities Association from 1967-1969. Thapar was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Ohio State University in March 1969. He was also a founding member of the Indian National Theatre in Chandigarh.

Dr. Prem Nath Thapar CIE, ICS (April 13, 1903- 1969) was a member of the Indian Civil Service in the Punjab region during India’s transformation from a British colony to independent nation state. Thapar joined the Indian Civil Service (ICS) in 1926 after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Oxford University. His first position was as Deputy Commissioner, Settlement Officer and Colonization Officer from 1926-1941. He was named Joint Secretary in the Department of Information and Broadcasting in 1941. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in the 1944 Birthday Honours list and was appointed Secretary of the Department of Food and Civil Supplies for the Punjab Government in 1946. In 1947, he was appointed Commissioner of Lahore and Jalandhar Division. With the allocation of Lahore to Pakistan in 1947, this position became moot and Thapar was asked to oversee the first planned city, Chandigarh. He was chosen to serve as the Administrative Head of the Chandigarh Capital Project in 1949. Thapar and PL Varma choose the site of the new capital of Punjab in Spring 1948. Dr. Thapar also oversaw settlement efforts of 58 villages that were located on the chosen site. He remained in Chandigarh as an Advisor of the Planning Commission until 1954. Thapar was appointed Secretary of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture from 1954-1958. In 1958, he was appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, where he remained until 1962.

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