PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The 2009-2010 academic year launches the Year of India at Brown University, a series of events to advance understanding of India’s people, culture, economy, and politics, and their growing impact around the world. The lineup includes major public lectures, art exhibitions, academic conferences, and other explorations of India’s dramatic rise on the global stage.
“American and Indian scholars, researchers and administrators have long enjoyed a productive environment of international exchange and collaboration,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “While the fact of India’s new global stature may no longer be surprising, understanding the history and potential of modern India is more important than ever for all academic disciplines.”
Brown is one of several universities that have recently launched initiatives to better understand India, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and University of Rhode Island. “Politically and economically, India’s rise on the international stage has been widely noted, and American higher education is responding to the new developments,” said Ashutosh Varshney, professor of political science and one of the program organizers. “In the coming years, a global orientation in education will almost certainly require greater understanding of India — its politics, economics, history, society, and culture.”
The Year of India will officially begin with the première of Songs of a Sorrowful Man, a documentary by Lina Fruzzetti, professor of anthropology at Brown, which chronicles the life of Dukhushyam Chitrakar, a composer, painter, and poet of legendary status in Naya village. A discussion panel will follow the screening, featuring Fruzzetti; Donna Wulff, associate professor of religious studies; and Vazira F-Y Zamindar, assistant professor of history. The presentation is sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Office of Campus Life and Student Services.
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, at 5 p.m. in the DeCiccio Family Forum at the Solomon Center for Teaching.
Indian businessman Narayan Murthy will give the Stephen A. Ogden Jr. ’60 Memorial Lecture. Murthy is the founder of Infosys, one of India’s largest information technology companies, and is considered to be one of the fathers of India’s information technology revolution. He will discuss India’s national strides, its powerful new international position, and the role technology has played. His lecture is titled “Information, Technology, India, and the Global Future.”
This lecture, originally scheduled for Oct. 22, 2009, has been postponed.
Other Year of India events this fall include the inaugural lecture of a year-long seminar series being launched by faculty at Brown, Harvard, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aimed at filling a long-perceived gap in the intellectual discussion of contemporary South Asian politics in the Boston-Providence area. The series begins with a talk by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a leading political philosopher in India, president of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, and member of NYU Law School’s Global Faculty. The seminar is titled “On the Construction of Judicial Authority: Courts and Public Reason in India.”
Additional lectures at Brown include:
- “Indian Women at Risk: Honor, Home, and HIV” by Kartik K. Venkatesh, a 2006 Brown graduate and current medical and graduate student;
- “Happy Ever After: Hindi Films and the Happy Ending” with Rachel Dwyer, professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; and
- “Terrorism and Constitutionalism” by Vasuki Nesiah, director of international affairs at Brown and lecturer at the Watson Institute for International Studies.
In March, the David Winton Bell Gallery will present the traveling exhibition Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh, a collection of black and white portraits of women — widows and young girls — from two communities in India. Bollywood actress Konkona Sen Sharma will also visit campus for a lecture and film screenings.
“The superb and diverse programs planned for this Year of India reflect our deep commitment to bringing Brown to the world and the world to Brown,” said Matthew Gutmann, vice president for international affairs. “Events with leading scholars, government figures, and cultural presentations will bring greater appreciation and understanding about India to campus, and greatly strengthen future exchange programs and collaborations between faculty and students in India and Brown.”
The Year of India iniative is the latest in a series of University programming focusing on international issues and research. The 2007-08 academic year featured events and programs related to Latin America, followed by a Focus on Africa series in 2008-09.
For more information and a complete list of events, visit brown.edu/india.