By Ian Bryce
Surrey: Prominent philanthropists Hari and Madhu Varshney have pledged $500,000 to bring world-class Indian scholars to Simon Fraser University.
SFU students will learn from leading Indian academics, who will also share their knowledge of India with the broader community via the Hari and Madhu Varshney Visiting Scholars Program in Indian Studies.
“This wonderful gift will strengthen SFU’s commitment to engage the world,” says SFU president Andrew Petter. “Thanks to the Varshneys’ generosity, these scholars will enrich our educational and research environment, while deepening the understanding of India’s rich culture and heritage amongst the communities we serve.”
In 2014, SFU was the first university in Western Canada to establish a visiting scholars program with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and host ICCR scholars. The Hari and Madhu Varshney Endowment will enhance this program and ensure its continuance, with the first scholar expected in spring 2017.
The ICCR works to establish, revive, and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries.
Program scholars, ranging from experts in Indian arts, history, culture, and Vedas and Vedic scriptures and knowledge, will be resident at SFU for one or two semesters.
The pledge was announced at SFU’s 9th annual Diwali Gala on Tuesday, October 18. The gala honoured the SFU-India Advisory Council. Hari Varshney was an original member of the council when it was established in 2006.
The SFU-India Advisory Council, the first to be established in Canada, has helped to guide SFU’s strategy to expand SFU-India academic and research collaborations. These include visiting scholars, work and volunteer initiatives for SFU students in India, and scholarships for Indian students to study at SFU.
ICCR scholars promote cultural awareness and exchange, connect with companies and government agencies seeking to develop BC-India programming and become honorary members of the SFU-India Advisory Council. They also teach and give public lectures, and help to bolster joint research and writing projects.