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Focus on South Asia

New Endowed Forum Honors Indian Author, Political Psychologist and Social Theorist

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A new South Asia-focused forum, made possible by an endowment fund established by UC San Diego faculty member Mohan Trivedi, his wife Nayana and family, will be launched with an inaugural lecture at 5 p.m. April 17 at Great Hall. The Trivedi family’s Gulistan (meaning land of flowers) South Asia Endowment Fund will support the forum in perpetuity.   

The forum honors Ashis Nandy, the renowned Indian author, social theorist, political psychologist and social and cultural critic, and his wife Uma. Ashis Nandy is the author of dozens of books and articles on colonialism and the psychology of politics and culture. He has lectured at universities around the world and is the recipient of the Fukuoka Grand Prize that honors individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the fields of Asian studies, Asian art and Asian culture.  

Uma and Ashis Nandy
Uma and Ashis Nandy

The guest speaker at this year’s inaugural Ashis and Uma Nandy forum is T.M. Krishna, a highly acclaimed singer of Carnatic music, the South Indian classical music genre considered to be one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. Also a writer and activist, Krishna has performed all over the world and is the recipient of the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award.  Admission to his lecture, "Dissent in Music: Past, Present, and Future,” is free and open to faculty, staff, students and members of the public.  

The forum will be held annually and hosted by the South Asia Initiative, a group of UC San Diego faculty and researchers that was established in 2015 to support scholarship, research and discussions about the region. The group draws its members from various disciplines across the university. 

T.M. Krishna
T.M. Krishna

Trivedi, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering, has been a member of the university’s faculty for three decades. He is the founding director of the Computer Vision and Robotics Research Laboratory and the Laboratory for Intelligent & Safe Automobiles (LISA). He is also a faculty affiliate of the Qualcomm Institute.

“Our family has participated in and enjoyed various events organized by the South Asia Initiative,” Trivedi said. “We admire the commitment and enthusiasm of the team, as well as their plans to expand the outreach of their program to a wider community. We are delighted to offer the Gulistan South Asia Endowment Fund as a token of our deep appreciation for the UC San Diego community.”  

Mohan and Nayana Trivedi
Mohan and Nayana Trivedi

Prashant Bharadwaj, professor of economics, and Saiba Varma, associate professor of anthropology, are co-directors of the forum and steering committee members of the South Asia Initiative. Varma is also the director of the South Asian Studies minor at UC San Diego.   

“We are deeply grateful for the generosity of Mohan and Nayana Trivedi and their support for an endeavor that will attract and engage students, scholars and the community in discourses on South Asia,” Bharadwaj said. “This gift, coming from a member of the STEM faculty to an initiative rooted in the social sciences, speaks to the culture of interdisciplinary collaboration at our university.” 

Varma said the forum would bolster the programming of the South Asia Initiative.

“It will bring speakers of international stature to campus, support greater understanding of the South Asia region from diverse perspectives, and anchor the minor on South Asian Studies,” she said. “We look forward to bringing greater visibility to South Asia, one of the world’s most significant and strategic regions, at UC San Diego.” 

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