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Harvard plans over a dozen India chairs

Thursday 23 March 2006, by SINHA*Kounteya

NEW DELHI: Over a dozen chairs, dedicated to eminent Indian personalities, especially scientists, educationists and scholar-turned-politicians, will soon be established in America’s richest institution of higher learning, Harvard University.

A day after the university’s outgoing president Lawrence Summers told TOI of his plans to start teaching India as an academic subject in Harvard, the renowned economist said: "To dedicate several chairs to Indian personalities in Harvard is a top priority for us.

We plan to start this initiative very soon. These chairs will help Indian students get financing in new areas of research."

He said: "Harvard is very interested in India. We have decided to help Indian students, who are some of the brightest in the world, with all the financial help they need.

Our latest financial aid policies are also directed towards Indian students. Those coming from houses where the family income is below $40,000 will be funded totally. Their studies will not need any parental contribution."

Summers added: "I also hope to recruit more professors with relation to India studies. Collaborative projects between Harvard professors and Indian scholars will also be felicitated.

I want US students to visit India, study in its universities with tremendous academic quality as a compulsory programme. PhD programmes for Indian students will also be financed in total."

Barry Bloom, dean of Harvard University School of Public Health, who is accompanying Summers, said: "Establishing chairs for Indian students will greatly help them besides creating a community of scholars.

Harvard knows about ancient India, the teaching of the Vedas, colonial India and its struggle for independence. What we want to study now is the modern India, its aggressive economic rise, its multi-cultural society and its brilliant people. There is a huge need to study modern India if we have to know the 21st century world."

Delivering a lecture at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Summers on Wednesday asked the developing world to invest on the girl child. He said: "Investing in primary and secondary education for girls is a moral imperative.

It will have higher returns as any other investment would. It will be an investment in productivity, planning, environment and prevention of disease. Social development is central to economic development."

Showing how he was smitten by India, Summers had said Harvard would soon start teaching India and that the visiting faculty would include Amartya Sen, Gardiner professor of history at Harvard Sugata Bose and Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna.

See online : The Times of India

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