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Indian-American couple pledges $3.5M for Sanskrit studies

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As a direct result from an Indian-American couples $3.5 million donation, the University of Chicago has established a professorship in Sanskrit studies to foster its study of the Indian subcontinent.

Guru Ramakrishnan, photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Guru Ramakrishnan, photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Guru Ramakrishnan, founder and CEO of Meru Capital, and his wife, Anupama Ramakrishnan, made the pledge to the university to establish the professorship. The program will bear their namesake—Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professorship in Sanskrit—and will help to facilitate a faculty member whose work focuses on the ancient classical language, a statement from the university said.

“The University of Chicago is world renowned for its excellence in the scholarship of South Asia,” Humanities Dean Martha T Roth said in a statement. “Guru and Anupama Ramakrishnan’s generosity allows us to sustain that tradition and makes possible continued rigorous study of the cultural heritage of South Asia through its literary, religious and philosophical texts.”

Gary Tubb, the university’s director of faculty at their New Delhi center, and current professor in South Asian languages and civilizations, will be the inaugural scholar of the new program’s studies, the statement further said. Sanskrit is the oldest of literary South Asian languages, and is also the longest-tenured language taught at the university, having been offered on campus since 1892. Tubb described why he felt Sanskrit has singled itself out from other South Asian languages for so long.

“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,” Tubb said. He added the origins of his interest of the language was because it provided “access to a long and rich history of human thought.” Tubb received his Ph.D. from Harvard

Gary Tubb, Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Delhi. Photo courtesy of the University of Chicago

Gary Tubb, Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Delhi. Photo courtesy of the University of Chicago

University in 1979, according to the university’s faculty page.

The Ramakrishnans, in a statement, expressed their delight in having the opportunity to fund the study.

“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’ statement 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.”

It isn’t the Ramakrishnans’ first collaboration with the university—the couple additionally funds a scholarship program for Indian students at the university’s Booth School of Business.

The Ramakrishnans’ gift is part of a much larger internal University of Chicago alumni initiative, one named “Inquiry and Impact,” which seeks to fundraise $4.5 billion through a network of 125,000 alumnus by the year 2019. The program has had a positive response, already generating $2.82 billion from 59,000 alumni to date.

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Jolly Joseph held for serial killings of her family in South India

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Jolly Joseph

Koodathai, India (Diya TV)  — A 47 year old mother of two in Kerala is being held on suspicion of using cyanide to murder at least six of her own family members, including her husband and in-laws. Jolly Joseph is behind bars as police continue their investigation into the serial killings. Police and neighbors allege after the deaths of her immediate family, years later, Jolly killed the wife and child of a man she went on to marry.

India’s Commerce minister Piyush Goyal will meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer once again this week as the U.S. and India continue bilateral trade negotiations. These talks come days after India exited a China-backed trade agreement that covered much of Asia, citing domestic concerns.

Just a couple of months after the ‘Howdy Modi’ event that brought India and the U.S. together in a manner we’ve never seen before, President Trump told reporters he does plan to visit India soon, after Prime Minister Modi extended an invitation to him in Houston.

Kshama Sawant was reelected to Seattle’s City Council, despite Amazon spending $500,000 to back her opponent. Sawant, a self-proclaimed socialist, ran on an agenda to deal with Seattle’s growing gentrification, homelessness and a lack of affordable housing

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Calm prevails after Indian Supreme Court rules on Ayodhya

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AYODHYA, India (Diya TV)  — In a politically and culturally sensitive dispute going back decades, the Indian Supreme Court awarded nearly three acres of sacred land in Ayodhya to Hindus, while mandating an alternative five-acre plot for a mosque. The court also deemed the demolition of the Babri Masjid on that site in 1991 a crime. The unanimous decision by five justices paves the way for the construction of a new Hindu temple on the parcel of land believed to be Lord Ram’s birthplace, ending the oldest land title dispute in India.Calls for peace were listened to over the weekend. Now, next steps involve determining how and where precisely the temple and mosque will be built.

In a major step forward between India and Pakistan, the Kartarpur corridor on the border of the two nations opened up for Sikhs to make pilgrimage on Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan for understanding India’s sentiment on this issue. 500 pilgrims made the initial voyage, including former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian Supreme Court ends Ayodhya dispute: Hindus receive land, Muslims get alternative site

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AYODHYA, India (Diya TV)  — In a decision over a subject that has been politically and culturally sensitive for several decades, the Indian Supreme Court awarded the entire 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya to Hindus, while deeming the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1991 a crime.

The unanimous decision by five justices, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, paves the way for the construction a new Hindu temple at the site, believed to be Lord Ram’s birthplace. The decision ends the oldest land title dispute in India.

A board of trustees will be established in the next three months to determine construction plans for the temple. While the court ruled in favor of the Hindu petition, they ordered five acres of land to be set aside at an alternative site in Ayodhya for a mosque to be built.

Ahead of the verdict political leaders appealed for peace and calm. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the verdict in this sensitive case will “not be a matter of victory or loss,” appealing to his nation to “strengthen India’s great tradition of peace, unity and amity.”

The court was also clear the desecration of the Babri Masjid was still a criminal matter and a court case on that issue is still pending.

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