University of Chicago community celebrates opening of Center in Delhi

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Presidential Forum begins three days of scholarly discussions, events

Several hundred members of the University community and guests gathered on Friday, March 28 to mark opening of the new Center in Delhi, celebrating the occasion with a high-powered panel discussion among leaders in academia, business, and government.

The forum, hosted by President Robert J. Zimmer and moderated by Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India and a distinguished service professor of finance, on leave from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, kicked off a weekend of panel discussions and events.

Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Center, located near Connaught Place in New Delhi, will be webcast live. The Hon. Nancy Powell, U.S. Ambassador to India, is scheduled to take part in that event, which will be shared through watch parties in Chicago, hosted by UChicago’s Centers in Paris and Beijing.

“This is a very important event for the University of Chicago because of what it represents about our commitment to academic work in India and with India; and because of how it reflects the University’s thinking about the importance of its global activities more generally,” Zimmer said in his remarks Friday. “The Center is Delhi, together with the Centers in Beijing and Paris, is an important step in bringing a much greater global perspective to the University and to enhancing our ability to support our faculty and students’ work as they incorporate a global perspective into their own work.”

Andrew M. Alper, chair of the University’s board of trustees, said he was delighted, though not surprised, by the enthusiastic turnout at the presidential forum and the gala dinner that followed. He recalled a trip to India last November in which alumni, parents, and friends expressed excited about UChicago’s rich history of scholarship related to India, the potential impact of new collaborative work, and the positive experience of students in the College.

“In my role as board chair, I get to visit with alumni and friends from all over the world, and I don’t think we have a more enthusiastic and connected group of supporters than right here in India,” Alper said.

Panels reflect programs of inquiry

The Center in Delhi will promote scholarship through three broad programs: business, economics, law, and policy; science, energy, medicine, and public health; and culture, society, religion, and arts.

Three panel discussions on Saturday will reflect those areas of inquiry. Titled “Visual Cultures in a Global World,” “Transnational Innovation in Science and Public Health,” and “Early Childhood Education,” the panels will feature UChicago faculty in conversation with scholars from India. Immediately following the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday afternoon, the Center will host a Chicago Booth panel, titled “Improving Productivity: Private, Social, and Public Sector Perspectives.”

Joining Rajan in Friday evening's discussion were Randall S. Kroszner, the Norman R. Bobins Professor of Economics at Chicago Booth; Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director of the Hindustan Times Group; Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank; and Arun Maira, member of the Planning Commission for the government of India.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on topics ranging from federal bank policy to women’s health to the disruptive nature of social media. Panelists compared and contrasted the political cultures of the United States and India, and talked about mutual challenges such as changing workforce requirements and income inequality.

On March 30, the deans of Chicago Booth, the Humanities Division, and the Social Sciences Division will participate in a panel discussion, titled “Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Scholarship and Teaching.” Prof. Gary Tubb, the Center’s faculty director, will moderate. A book discussion will follow with Leela Gandhi, professor of English at the University of Chicago, and Amit Chadhuri, professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia.

The opening celebration will close with a reception in honor of UChicago faculty members Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, the William Benton Distinguished Service Professor Emerita, and Lloyd I. Rudolph, Professor Emeritus of Political Science.

The Rudolphs will each receive India’s prestigious Padma Bhushan Award, the nation’s third-highest civilian honor, awarded to recognize distinguished service of a high order to the nation. The president of India will confer the awards at a civil investiture ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the president’s house, on March 31. Friday night’s gathering recognized the achievement with a standing ovation.

Rich tradition of scholarship with South Asia

In establishing the Center in India, the University of Chicago draws upon a long and rich history scholarship, research and teaching in and about South Asia. The Center will create new opportunities to attain broader and deeper understanding—through the open and free exchange of ideas and debate—of questions facing the region and the world.

Announced last October, the Center in Delhi will be a home for research and education for UChicago faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates working in India and throughout South Asia. The Center will provide new venues for them to work with Indian researchers and students representing a wide array of institutions, as well as other scholars from around the world. It will also be the site of regular programming that engages UChicago alumni and friends.

The Center in Delhi is an important addition to UChicago’s international presence. Delhi joins the University’s Center in Beijing, opened in 2010, and the Center in Paris, opened in 2004, in bringing together researchers and students to collaborate across the academic spectrum.

Building on the University’s presence in China, work is also underway on a Center in Hong Kong that will house a University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive MBA program as well as other University programs.

Chicago Booth also has campuses in London and Singapore, where UChicago faculty teach in degree–granting programs. The University’s Oriental Institute has a presence in Luxor, Egypt, founded in 1924 and known as “Chicago House,” which documents ancient Egyptian inscriptions and works with Egyptian scholars on conservation, restoration, and site management. The University’s UChicago Research Bangladesh includes medical and research facilities in Dhaka and throughout Bangladesh that serve more than 100,000 people.

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The Center in Delhi will support and expand opportunities for University of Chicago faculty and student research, education, and collaboration with Indian and South Asian universities, research institutes, and cultural organizations. It will also serve as a home base for UChicago alumni and parents who live, work, or travel in the region.

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Prof. Gary Tubb, from left, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andy Alper and President Robert J. Zimmer listen to the panelists at the Presidential Forum at the Taj Palace Hotel. The forum is one of this weekend's events in Delhi that are part of the celebration of the opening of the University of Chicago Center in Delhi.

Photo by Kuni Takahashi
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Prof. Randall Kroszner, from left, Chanda Kochhar, Prof. Raghuram Rajan, Shobhana Bhartia, Arun Maira sit on the  Presidential Forum panel. Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India and a distinguished service professor of finance, on leave from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, moderated the panel.

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A member of the audience asks a question at a Presidential Forum at the Taj Palace Hotel on March 28.

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Guests arrive for the Presidential Forum at the Taj Palace Hotel and sign in at the registration desk.

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Prof. Raghuram Rajan, center, leads a discussion with panelists Prof. Randall Kroszner, from left, Chanda Kochhar,  Shobhana Bhartia and Arun Maira at the Presidential Forum on March 28.

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Guests mingle during a reception prior to Presidential Forum at the Taj Palace Hotel, on March 28.

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Profs. Emeriti Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph receive silk scarves from Gary Tubb during the gala dinner. The Rudolphs will receive the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India on March 31. In 2008, Oxford University Press published a three-volume, career-spanning collection of the writings of Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, titled Explaining Indian Democracy: A Fifty-Year Perspective.

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