It was as if they had lived on another planet. After headlines announcing that a New York-based radiologist, Dr Rajasekhar Sham, had, with his wife Lucila, left Rs 18 crore to the University of Madras; after the university’s inquiries into the background of this generous alumnus; after Facebook posts from radiologists inviting responses from his friends and colleagues, Dr Sham remains a mystery. No relatives, friends or classmates have been in touch.
For the university, the news delivered by a legal firm in the summer of 2009 that an alumnus had left it this sum, the largest from an individual, came as a surprise. While it claimed the amount, it did little to discover the antecedents of a donor of whom it knew almost nothing. The case only got importance after the new vice-chancellor, G. Thiruvasagam, took over last October.