Event ReportsPublished on Sep 15, 2004
The seminar on Status of India Studies in the United States is co-sponsored by Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and India Studies Program of Indiana University. The seminar is scheduled for September 15 and 16, 2004 at Indiana Memorial Union Hotel, Indiana University, Bloomington.
ORF Seminar on Status Of India Studies in the United States
There is a growing realisation in the world capitals that India has the potential of emerging as an economically strong, politically mature power in the near future. No where has this realisation been deeply felt than the United States of America where India, till recent times, remained perpetually appended to Pakistan and China. 

While there is unambiguous evidence that on the political level, the image of India is undergoing a dramatic shift---from a land of religious fundamentalism and human misery to a democratically vibrant nation with promise, the perception and portrayal of world's largest democracy in the US academia remains locked in a time warp induced by ignorance and deliberate strategy.

India has long been studied in the US universities and research institutions with different motives and motivations. A closer scrutiny of the various academic programmes currently underway in various universities in the US reveal three broad trends: First, the western narrative of India has been, and is, circumscribed by traditional scepticism in the US academia, largely populated by American scholars deeply sceptical of India's geopolitical aspirations and, ironically, democratic credentials, and a sheer intellectual ennui to question past theses and claims. Second, the tendency to reflect more on the ``historical`` aspects of an India that remained most part of the past three centuries under foreign rules rather than a contemporary view of a nation that is valiantly struggling to rise against the tide. Third, the woeful absence of a parallel narrative that tests the current notions of India in the US academia.

Undoubtedly, such a prejudiced view of India, perpetuated by venerable academic institutions, has the power to influence policies and opinions in Washington, often known as the Capital of the World.

We, at Observer Research Foundation, believe that India, a nation that is home to one-fifth of humanity, cradle of several ancient civilisations, deserves a fair and objective assessment.

With this objective in mind, we have launched the India Studies Project as part of the ORF US Studies Programme with the primary objective of studying and analysing why the US academia continues to retain, often knowingly, an antiquated view of India which is so distant from the dreams and aspirations of a billion people; to explore ways and means to neutralise the impact of such negative portrayals; and create an intellectual climate for a more vigorous and objective assessment of India in the US universities and research organisations.

The key elements of the project are:

  • To collate information on the status of India Studies in the US. 
  • To study the impact of such negative portrayals on Indian interests.
  • To identify ways and means to correct the distorted view and disseminate objective information about India.

As part of this journey for rediscovering India for the US, ORF is organising a Seminar on the Status of India Studies in the US in collaboration with Indiana University, Bloomington, on September 15-16, 2004, at Indiana University. Invitees include eminent scholars from various India Studies programmes.

We hope to witness a meeting together of minds to explore differences and agreements on how India is, and should be, perceived in the US.

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