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Indian American couple donates $3.5 mn to Chicago University for the revival of Sanskrit language

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Chicago: A whopping sum of $3.5 mn received by the University of Chicago from an Indian-American couple helped establish a professorship for Sanskrit studies. The professorship will assist in advancing the study of the Indian subcontinent.

The act adds to immense contribution by Indian diaspora towards reviving and retaining our culture.

The Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professorship in Sanskrit studies supports a faculty member whose work focuses on the ancient classical language, according to a university announcement.

Gary Tubb, professor in South Asian Languages and Civilisations and faculty director of the University of Chicago Centre in Delhi, will be the first scholar to hold the new position, it said.

“The University of Chicago is world renowned for its excellence in the scholarship of South Asia,” said Martha T Roth, the dean of the Division of the Humanities.

“Guru and Anupama Ramakrishnan’s generosity allows us to sustain that tradition and makes possible the continued rigorous study of the cultural heritage of South Asia through its literary, religious and philosophical texts.”

Sanskrit, the oldest literary language of South Asia, is the longest continuously taught South Asian language at Chicago University, having been offered since the first classes were held at the university in 1892.

Tubb first encountered Sanskrit as an undergraduate at Harvard University. He said he was attracted to the language because it provided “access to a long and rich history of human thought”.

“Sanskrit really stands out among the world’s languages – alongside other classical languages – as being a single language that provides access to an extraordinarily broad range of texts and histories.”

A leading Sanskrit scholar, Tubb examines the tradition’s poetics, grammatical forms and commentarial traditions, and draws insights from the culture’s philosophy, religion and literature. Tubb is the author of “Scholastic Sanskrit: A Handbook for Students”.

Tubb praised the Ramakrishnan family for its support of the Sanskrit scholarship. “It’s fortunate this professorship carries the name of people who have serious interest in and respect for the way Sanskrit is studied,” he said.

The Ramakrishnans’ gift is part of The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, which will raise $4.5 billion and engage 125,000 alumni by 2019. To date, the campaign has raised $2.82 billion and engaged more than 59,000 alumni.

Guru Ramakrishnan, MBA ’88, is a founding partner at Meru Capital Group; Anupama Ramakrishnan is on the advisory board of the Agastya Foundation, a Bengaluru-based NGO that funds and operates educational programmes in rural India.

The couple also supports a scholarship programme for Indian students at Chicago Booth, the Guru and Anupama Ramakrishnan Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“We are delighted to fund this chair in Sanskrit – one of the oldest languages that has given the world the Vedas, Upanishads and other exceptional works of spirituality, poetry, music and dance,” the Ramakrishnans said.

“The University of Chicago’s long-term commitment to scholarship in Sanskrit made it our institution of choice to partner with on this important initiative,” they said.

The University of Chicago is home to a rich array of resources for the study of the Indian subcontinent, including its Centre in Delhi. Currently, more than 60 faculty members are engaged in the study of South Asian history, culture and language.

The University offers instruction in nine modern and two classical Indian languages, including advanced instruction in less commonly taught languages such as Marathi and Telugu. (IANS)

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US

Gurbir S Grewal has been nominated to be the next attorney general of US and would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in United States

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US.
Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US. Facebook
  • Gurbir S Grewal is nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US
  • He would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position

In a historic first, a distinguished Sikh public prosecutor “who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand” has been nominated to be the next attorney general of the US state of New Jersey.

If Gurbir S. Grewal’s nomination by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy is approved by the State Senate early next year, he will be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in the United States and the second Indian-American, after Kamala Harris, who held the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

Announcing the nomination in the state capital, Trenton, on Tuesday, Murphy said: “In light of all that is being thrown at us by the president, we need an attorney general unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law to protect all New Jersey residents.”

Grewal, 44, is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York city. He was appointed to by the current Republican Governor Chris Christie and that is likely to mute any opposition the senate.

Symbolic of the public acceptance of minorities despite scattered incidents of bigotry, two Sikhs were elected mayors last month, Ravi Bhalla in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Preet Didbal in Yuba City, California.

Vin Gopal, who became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey State Senate last month, said that Grewal is someone “not only eminently qualified, but who will bring a perspective to the office that is diverse and long-overdue.”

After Murphy made the announcement, Grewal said: “I wanted to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”

Turning to his three daughters, Kyrpa, Mayher and Mahek, who were with him, he said: “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure we all live in and that the three of you grow up in a fair and just society.”

Grewal added: “I wanted to perhaps also show people that while I and others like me may look different or worship differently, that we, too, are committed to this country.”

Hailing Grewal’s nomination, Rajwant Singh, the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “These are exactly the kind of role models our youngsters need to feel proud of being a Sikh and an American.”

“While America could be seen having a very polarized situation politically and yet there are some very shining moments to show that people of all backgrounds can aspire for top positions,” he added.

South Asian Bar Association President Rishi Bagga, said: “The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement.”

Attorney General is a very powerful position New Jersey heading the Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the state police.

Grewal has earlier served as an assistant federal prosecutor in New York and in New Jersey, where he was also the chief of the Economic Crimes Unit.

In the administration of former President Barack Obama, Indian Americans have held senior law positions. Neal Kumar Katyal was an Acting Solicitor General.

Sri Srinivasan, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, did a stint as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General.

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

US President Donald Trump has appointed Uttam Dhillon to be his special assistant and associate counsel. (IANS)

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Nobel Prize 2017: Richard H. Thaler Wins Nobel for Economic Science

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Richard H. Thaler, winner of the Nobel Prize
A photo of Richard H. Thaler, winner of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences 2017, officially called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. voa

Sweden, October 9: American Richard H. Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize 2017 for Economics — officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

The award committee said Thaler was chosen “for his contributions to behavioral economics.”

“By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control,” Thaler “has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes,” the Swedish Academy said.

Thaler developed the theory of “mental accounting,” explaining how people simplify financial decision-making by creating separate accounts in their minds, focusing on the narrow impact of each individual decision rather than its overall effect.

Thaler was born 1945 in East Orange, New Jersey and received his Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of Rochester, New York. He is a Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Illinois.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the Nobel Prize 2017 award Monday. It carries a $1.1 million prize. (voa)

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EXCLUSIVE: Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya in Delhi is trying to keep the Cultural Roots Alive in Students through Sanskrit Language

What makes this Sanskrit School different from others?

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Chintamanni Vedpathi with students
Chintamanni Vedpathi with students. Youtube
  • Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya  is one of the oldest Sanskrit Institutions in Delhi
  • Students wear white dhoti and shirt, they greet their guru or teacher by clasping their hands together
  • The Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram takes care of the student’s  food by providing them with free food and they also stay in hostel free of cost  

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: There is a school in Delhi away from the overdose of technology and westernization. This school is trying to strengthen the roots of Indian culture by giving the gyan (knowledge) of Sanskrit to their students.

Reporter Kritika Dua got in touch with the teachers of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya– Jai Prakash Mishra and Rajendra Sharma to know what is so special about this Delhi-based School. To get the taste of the pattern that this school follows, she spoke with students- Virender Tiwari and Pushpendra Chaturvedi who shared some interesting anecdotes about the school.

This Sanskrit Vidyalaya is one of the oldest Sanskrit Institutions in Delhi, where classes begin at 11 am and end at 4.10 p.m. The school has produced many Sanskrit scholars in the past and it is run by Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram, which is located just opposite to the school.

On entering the classroom, you can see students wearing white dhoti and shirt, students greet their guru or teacher by clasping their hands together and sit on the carpeted floor while learning at the Vidyalaya.

One of the teachers at this school, Jai Prakash Mishra said, “around 55-60 students stay in the hostel, rest of them come from other areas in Delhi to study here. The ones who stay in hostel come from different states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan.”

Entrance of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Delhi.
Entrance of Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Delhi

Students having interest in learning the ancient language of India are welcome in this school, no matter which part of the country they belong to. The only requirement is to be a good shisya (pupil) – he should be serious towards education, ready to lead a disciplined life and should be hard-working.

Mishra added, “the Sri Vishwanath Sanyas Ashram takes care of the student’s  food by providing them with free food and they also stay in hostel free of cost.” There are 10 teachers currently in this school.

Volleyball Court in School Playground
Volleyball Court in School Playground

The students play Volleyball and Cricket in the school playground though there is no sports teacher in the school. Rajendra Sharma, Hindi teacher said, “The students here can get the education -9th class and 10th class called purva madhyama, 11th and 12th called uttar madhyama, till graduation called Shastri though they get a post-graduation degree from the school. The degree they get is from Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya (SSVV), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh as the school is affiliated with this university.”

The School teaches other subjects apart from Sanskrit like Hindi, history, science, English literature, English Grammar, law etc.  Sharma told about his expectations from the students, “Our students are preserving Indian Culture by learning Sanskrit. I wish that they have a bright future ahead.”

ALSO READ: Move to Make Sanskrit Classes Mandatory Raises Ruckus in Assam

The students of this all boy’s school have short cropped hair which is sometimes shaven heads with tufts of hair at the back. They are rooted in Indian culture which can be seen through their behavior, good manners, dressing and talking sense.

Rahul Shukla, a 9th class student said that he can recite shlokas perfectly and wants to be a Shastri when he grows up. Vishwanath Sanskrit Vidyalaya has branches in Haridwar, Varanasi, Shimla, Kolkata, Mount Abu, and Bikaner.

Virender Tiwari (19) is pursuing graduation from this school and here the B.A first year course is called Shastriya Pratham, and he will become a Shastri after he completes his graduation. Tiwari said, “my experience has been extremely enriching in this school so far, all the knowledge I have of Sanskrit is because of what I have been taught here.”

Pushpendra Chaturvedi completed his graduation last year, now he lives in Dilshad Garden and is a priest in a temple. Pushpendra said, “I came to this school in the 9th standard, this school did a lot for me and I have fond memories of this place. I want to pursue B.ED and become a Sanskrit teacher.”

He talked about the ex-principal of the school, Ram Sarmukh Dwivedi, 95 years old Mahatma. He was a Sanskrit  Scholar and had in depth knowledge of Sanskrit language, literature, and ‘Ved Puran’. The current Principal of this unique Sanskrit school is Dr. Brahmachari Balram.


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