The Year of India: Neither the Beginning nor the End of Brown’s Engagement with India

6/8/10: The University’s Year of India, now concluded, has left an imprint at Brown and beyond. The program has served as a catalyst for the future by deepening India’s enduring presence at Brown – and Brown’s in India – through expanded scholarship and collaboration. In years to come, new partnerships and programs will augment the University’s India-related research and teaching capacities. Several developments have been announced, and more planning is underway.
During her March visit to Delhi and Mumbai, Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons inaugurated a new Advisory Council on India, a body composed of alumni, parents of students, and academic advisors. The Council will advise Brown on its engagement with India in the future, including recruiting undergraduate and graduate students, strengthening teaching and research, and growing student exchanges.

The University has expanded its partnership with St. Stephen’s college, which includes student and faculty exchanges dating back to 1991. A new agreement increases to 15 the number of Brown students who may go to St. Stephen’s each year and for the first time will bring a master’s candidate from St. Stephen’s to Brown annually.
Brown has also signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry to encourage new collaborations between Brown and Indian businesses. Brown will partner with Indian businesses on research and will also facilitate student work with Indian companies. Infosys Technologies Ltd., whose founder, Narayana Murthy, spoke at Brown in March, will host a Brown undergraduate intern for the first time this summer through the University’s CV Starr Program in Commerce, Organization and Entrepreneurship (COE).

Next year, the University will begin offering a PhD in Sanskrit Language and Literature in the Classics Department, as well a new PhD in South Asian Religions in the Religious Studies Department. A new program on inequality in the Global South, based at the Watson Institute for International Studies, will also expand India-related doctoral training. The program, supported by a prestigious grant from the US National Science Foundation, will focus on four countries in the midst of rapid change – Brazil, China, India, and South Africa – working with such partners as the Centre for Developing Societies in Delhi.
Also at the Watson Institute, an Indian channel on the upcoming Global Conversation website will provide a forum for continued dialogue among students, faculty, and alumni. Ashutosh Varshney, professor of political science and chair of the Year of India faculty committee, will become Dupee Faculty Fellow at the Institute beginning July 1. Anthropologist Bhrigupati Singh, whose research focuses on inequality, power, and religious and secular modes of aspiration, has accepted an appointment as a visiting fellow to beginning in January 2011.

In the midst of all these new developments, older resources will also continue to support the study and teaching of India at Brown. These range from fellowships that allow undergraduates to work in India on projects ranging from community health to information technology services; to the Library’s extensive collection of Indian census data; to the Medical School’s partnerships with the Y.R. Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education in Chennai.
In the words of Dean of Faculty Rajiv Vohra, the Year of India “is neither the beginning nor the end of Brown’s engagement with India.”