Initiative to Transform Yale University’s Engagement with India

New Delhi, India: Yale University President Richard C. Levin announced details of the Yale India Initiative in a ceremony in New Delhi, India attended by representatives of India’s academic, civil society, corporate, and government communities. The Yale India Initiative is the broadest and most ambitious interdisciplinary effort of its kind to date, and it will position Yale University among the world’s pre-eminent institutions for the study of and engagement with India and South Asia.

Yale’s India Initiative will create new faculty positions and new curriculum across the arts and sciences disciplines, as well as Yale’s professional schools of architecture, environmental studies, law, management, medicine, public health, and nursing. The Initiative will also expand the University’s visibility in and engagement with India and South Asia through intensified student recruitment efforts, faculty and student exchanges, research partnerships, and leadership education.

Yale has committed $30 million of its own unrestricted endowment resources to this enterprise, and it expects to raise at least $20 million from donors within the next year. Fully developed, with the support of additional donors over the next several years, the planned additions to Yale’s current academic programs on India and South Asia will require endowment resources of $75 million (or approximately 375 crore Indian rupees at present exchange rates).

Yale President Richard C. Levin stated: “The rise of India since the 1990s into a nation of global economic and geo-political consequence compels Yale to provide a deep and rich curriculum covering all aspects of Indian civilization – its languages and literatures, religions, and history, as well as its politics, economics, and society. We also need to engage with the problems that confront contemporary India: equitable and sustainable economic development, and public health.”

A gift of $5 million from Rohini and Nandan Nilekani and a leadership gift from Dinakar Singh ’90 have enabled Yale to leverage its own resources and fundraising to catalyze the Yale India Initiative.

Mr. Nilekani is co-founder and co-chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited; Ms. Nilekani is the chairperson of the Arghyam Trust and Pratham Books, devoted to water, education, and environmental issues. Mr. Singh is the founding partner of TPG-Axon Capital, a leading global investment firm. Mr. Nilekani and Mr. Singh serve on the Yale President’s Council on International Activities, while Ms. Nilekani is a member of the Leadership Council of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. All have played significant leadership roles in counseling the University as it has developed the plans for the Yale India Initiative.

Mr. Nilekani stated, “As India becomes a leading nation of the twenty-first century, it is imperative that a pre-eminent global institution like Yale have a deep and wide base of India studies. This commitment reinforces Yale’s position as a truly Global University. We expect many more connections between Yale and India in the years ahead.”

Ms. Nilekani said, “We have been deeply impressed by President Levin’s energetic commitment to establish the Yale India Initiative. In May 2008, we first discussed the idea, and in a span of six months, Yale developed an ambitious institutional strategy, raised funds, identified the academic and administrative leadership, and, now, is executing on these ambitions to rapidly emerge as a leading center for the study and engagement of India.”

An array of new and enhanced curricular, scholarly, and programmatic activities on India underscores how rapidly Yale has moved to build its engagement with India. Some illustrative examples include:

  • The India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Program in 2007 and 2008 brought to Yale distinguished members of India’s Parliament for a leadership program with Yale faculty that was complemented by meetings, discussions, and interactions with U.S. politicians, policy analysts, and senior U.S. government officials in Washington, D.C. This program will be ongoing.
  • The Yale “Bulldogs in India” internship program in 2008 allowed more than twenty Yale College students to work in corporate and non-profit positions in New Delhi. These students were among the more than 150 students from Yale who undertook internships, study, language training, independent research and travel, or community service in India during 2007 – 2008.
  • The South Asian Studies Council of the MacMillan Center has built up the University’s course offerings on India and South Asia, including language offerings in Hindi, Sanskrit, and Tamil. The Council has organized workshops, symposia, and visiting scholars programs. By 2009, Yale’s program of visiting faculty and post-doctoral fellows in South Asian/Indian Studies will be the largest of any U.S. university.
  • Yale’s professional schools have expanded their teaching and research, as well as their outreach to India. Among the many recent examples are the Yale School of Nursing’s activities to develop a new nursing curriculum for HIV/AIDS in India; the Yale China India Consumer Insights Program in the Yale School of Management; the Yale School of Management’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship’s leadership training for Indian non-governmental organizations; and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ projects on climate change, industrial sanitation, green chemistry, and green engineering in India.

Kalyanakrishnan Sivaramakrishnan, Professor of Anthropology, Forestry & Environmental Studies, and International & Area Studies, who serves as the Chair of the South Asian Studies Council in the MacMillan Center, will concurrently direct the Yale India Initiative.

U.S.A. – George Joseph,, +1 - 203 - 436 - 4654
India – Vineet Handa,, +91 98 1166 0897

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George Joseph:, 203-436-4654