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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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Covid exploding in South & Southeast Asia

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Covid exploding in South & Southeast Asia | Diya TV News

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — The World Health Organization says India has accounted for nearly half of all global infections and a quarter of deaths reported in the past week. But cases have also skyrocketed in nearby countries like Nepal in the north to Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the south. And it’s not just India’s neighbors — further away in Southeast Asia, infections are also surging in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia

Two Indian American professors at Duke University have been appointed to senior roles in President Joe Biden’s administration. Professor Ronnie Chatterji will serve as chief economist of the United States Department of Commerce, and professor Arti  Rai has been appointed to serve as a senior advisor in the Office of General Counsel in the same agency.  

And he went to India to help care for his family struggling with Covid-19. Instead, renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Rajendra Kapila ended up dying from the virus. Kapila was also a professor of medicine at Rutgers University and practiced for 50 years.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Feds raid New Jersey BAPS Hindu Temple

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Feds raid NJ Baps, face forced labor charges | Diya TV News

NEW JERSEY (Diya TV) — Federal authorities in New Jersey are accusing the highly influential Hindu organization BAPS of human trafficking and wage violations. The lawsuit says more than 200 workers – many who don’t speak or understand English – were coerced into signing employment agreements  to work at the Hindu temple, had their passports taken away, and forced to work for as little as $1.20 an hour. A spokesperson for BAPS is disputing the allegations.

As deadly clashes in Israel continue between Palestinians and Jews, an Indian woman is the latest victim caught in the cross fire. She’s being identified as 31 year old Soumya, killed during a rocket attack. Officials say she worked as a care giver in Israel for the past decade.   

And as expected, Sadiq Khan was re-elected Mayor of London. Khan, became the first Muslim to head a major Western capital after his victory in 2016. he’ll serve another three years in office.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Kshama Sawant pleads guilty to violating ethics code

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Kshama Sawant pleads guilty to violating ethics code | Diya TV News

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — Controversial Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant admitted to violating the city elections and ethics code and will pay a fine of more than 3500 dollars. The Indian American leader got herself in trouble going after a ballot initiative taxing tech giant Amazon. She was accused of using the official seal of Seattle on campaign letter head and posting links opposing the proposition on her city website.

The Hindu American Foundation is suing several people for defamation including the leaders of  Hindus for Human Rights, the Indian American Muslim Council, and the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America  They’re accused of making false claims on Al-Jazeera news, saying that HAF misappropriated COVID-19 relief funds to support violence and “slow genocide” against Christians and Muslims in India. A Rutgers University professor is also being sued for amplifying this narrative.  

And debris from China’s largest rocket landed in the Indian Ocean, west of the Maldives. Critics slammed the Asian nation for failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris. There were no reports of any injuries.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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