New Center for Indian Studies

David Magier magier at
Fri May 2 13:36:01 UTC 1997

I've been asked to forward this news release to your listserv or
mailing list. If you require any further information, please contact
Professor Sridhar directly.
David Magier



State University of New York
Stony Brook
Center for India Studies Opened
at SUNY Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY, April 26, 1997

Professor S.N. Sridhar
Professor of Linguistics and Director
Center for India Studies
East 5350 Melville Library
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3386

Phone [Office] (516) 632-9742
Phone [Home]   (516) 751-1810
Fax   [Office] (516) 632-9731
Fax   [Home]   (516) 751-7050
Email:         ssridhar at

On a glorious, sunny Saturday, 600 enthusiastic Long Islanders cheered
as Indias Consul General in New York, Harsh Bhasin lighted an ornate
brass lamp, symbolically dedicating Stony Brooks new Center for India
Studies. "From now on, there will be two Indian flags in my consular
area," he declared.  "One at the Consulate in Manhattan, the other,
the flag of intellect, will fly at Stony Brook." He pledged full
support from the Consulate, including a 100-volume set of the
collected works of Mahatma Gandhi and help in offering courses on
current affairs in India.

The establishment Stony Brooks India Center, the first in the State
University system, has been hailed as an extraordinary accomplishment
considering the climate of severe cutbacks.  It is the fruit of a
two-year campaign by student activists, professors, and leaders of the
Indian community, who worked in concert with Stony Brooks President
Shirley Strum Kenny to transform a pipe dream into reality.

The Center, located in the heart of the Stony Brook campus, has a
library, reading room, multimedia lab, research and publications unit,
and a development office.  It aims to promote a better understanding
of India by creating opportunities and resources for studying India.
Its goals include teaching credit and non-credit courses, sponsoring
research, visiting professorships, study abroad and community outreach
programs. It is funded by the university and the community
together. Student volunteers take turns staffing the Center.  The
Center's current projects include editing a survey of Indian
civilization for the general reader, and a brochure documenting
highlights of Indias Freedom Revolution, both sponsored by the
Association of Indians in America.

"It has given the 600+ Indian undergraduate students a focus, pride,
and an identity. It will benefit students years from now.  I feel
proud, knowing that I helped lay the foundations for it," says Seema
Pradhan, a junior who plans to study medicine.

Professor S.N. Sridhar, Director of the Center for India Studies,
described the beginnings: Students demanded courses on India, and the
faculty and the Indian American community worked with President
Shirley Strum Kenny.  >From a marginal or no status in the curriculum,
India studies had grown rapidly, to gain campus approval for a Major
in South Asia. About 6 courses are offered every semester, and 7 are
planned for this summer.  They include Indian Feminism, South Asian
ethnography, and 6-credit Intensive (equivalent of one year) language
courses in Kannada, Hindi, and Sanskrit.

Introducing the Center, Professor Sridhar observed that India's fight
for freedom is usually referred to as a "movement," or a "struggle,"
but never as a "revolution."  The Center will work to correct
distortions in the representation of India, without becoming
parochial. Values, such as academic freedom, were often talked about
as if they were uniquely Western, but India had a distinguished
tradition of intellectual debate, right from the Upanishadic
times. The opening of the Center signified the opening of minds toward
India and the Center will strive to broaden scholars world-view to
include Indian thought and experience.

"These are exciting times for Asian Studies," said President Kenny.
Stony Brook was committed to building a strong Asian Studies Program,
including India Studies. The Stony Brook India Centers pragmatic and
integrated vision, encompassing the arts, humanities, sciences,
medicine, commerce and technology, will make it a leader in the next
generation of India Studies programs, Kenny said, and vowed to make it
the best in the nation.  She announced that the proposed Charles Wang
Asian American Center which is distinct from, but complements the
India Studies Center -- will feature state of the art facilities.

Dr. Azad K. Anand, Chair of the India Studies Foundation, who helped
raise $100,000 at a recent Shanti Fund event, said that the Stony
Brook India Studies was a top priority for the Indian American
community on Long Island.  He complimented President Kenny on her
vision and leadership.  He felt that the Stony Brook model of creating
an India Studies program which directly benefits students from day one
by offering a range of courses and activities was perhaps a more
feasible model of partnership between the community and public
universities than instituting a Chair.

Dr. V. S. Arunachalam, former Science Advisor to Prime Ministers of
India and Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Public policy at
Carnegie-Mellon University delivered the inaugural address on India's
progress since 1947.  Comparisons with Singapore, Korea, or Japan are
misplaced because of the "tyranny of scale," he added. India missed
out on the Industrial Revolution and inherited impossible odds, such
as its population and illiteracy.  It has not had as much time with
democracy as the U.S., nor did it adopt totalitarian policies like
China or the former Soviet Union.  Yet, its accomplishments were
impressive, he concluded.  The real winners are the people of India,
who have preserved democratic institutions.

He compared the India Centers plan to invite visiting professors to
the practice at the ancient centers of learning at Nalanda and
Saranath and commended the Centers commitment to intellectual
pluralism and openness.  The audience was thrilled by an inspiring
video made at the Center by Ashu Patel, an undergraduate student,
chronicling the evolution of student activism and its successful

The program concluded with a three part concert, featuring Daisy
Paradis on the sitar and Tapan Modak, tabla; classical vocal music by
Dr. Aruna Sharma, who is teaching an India Music course at Stony
Brook, and a Kathak dance by Trupti Sevak.

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