A $5mn boost for India studies in US

Washington, Aug 7 (IANS) A $5 million gift to the India studies centre at a New York University is set to make it one of the pre-eminent resource centres for the study of Indian culture and civilisation in the US.

The donations make the Centre for India Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University as the recipient of the largest gift ever made to a US public university for India Studies.

The gift comprises a donation of $1.25 million from Nirmal K. Mattoo, a leading nephrologist and chairman of Stony Brook's Centre for India Studies executive committee, and a $1.25 million permanent endowment from members of the Indian American community Coupled with matching funds of $2.5 million from the Simons Foundation Challenge Grant, the gift has a total impact of $5 million, according to a media release from the university.

Mattoo's gift will be used to establish the Nirmal and Augustina Mattoo Chair in Classical Indic Humanities.

The Chair will encompass a broad range of areas, including art, esthetics, ethics, linguistics, literature, literary theory, philosophy, religion, spirituality, psychology, sociopolitical theory, and allied disciplines, to which India has made seminal and influential contributions.

In recognition of Mattoo's leadership role in developing India Studies at Stony Brook, the Centre for India Studies will be renamed the Bishembarnath Mattoo and Sheela Mattoo Centre for India Studies, in memory of his parents, the release said.

"These generous gifts from Dr. Mattoo and the Indian American community are building a solid foundation for growth of India Studies at Stony Brook," said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.

"They will help Stony Brook attract outstanding scholars and talented students who recognize the significant role that India has played from ancient times in developing knowledge systems in a wide range of disciplines and its contemporary role as a major player in an increasingly interdependent global economy and world."

"The Centre is the perfect example of a successful partnership between a public university and the Indian American community," said Mattoo. "Looking ahead, the endowment comprising these gifts will put the Centre on a solid financial footing and enable us to continue to offer our rich programmes in perpetuity.

"The study of India, one of the great classical civilizations of the world, is a wonderful complement to one's education and is a positive influence on the world," he said.

"And we are delighted to dedicate this endowment as the Indian American community's birthday gift to India on the occasion of her 66th Independence Day, August 15."

The India Studies programme started on Stony Brook University campus in 1995 with just two courses taught by Professors S.N. Sridhar and Kamal K. Sridhar.

Today India Studies faculty teach some 30 courses to more than 1,500 students, write and edit books, and publish in major academic journals.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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