Friday, November 13, 2009

Demystifying India in India

As many of you know, this fall has featured an extraordinary series of events at the University of Rhode Island examining the history, politics, sociology, culture, and future of India. As I write this, it is my privilege to actually be in India, where I am participating in a regional scientific conference at the TIFR (Tata Institute for Fundamental Research) in Mumbai. I have already written about the importance and impact of scientific conferences with international participation, and those observations are relevant to this conference as well. However, in this case the participants overwhelmingly come from India and their contributions and the setting provide a rich context for me to learn firsthand about the talents, accomplishments, opportunities, and challenges of this amazing and diverse country. One conclusion is already apparent: it would be desirable and beneficial for URI to increase its engagement with India. I think our students could benefit in multiple ways from studying here. I believe that URI would benefit greatly from the presence of scholars and students from India on our campus. We could learn a lot from the perspectives, vision, and experiences of the people of the Indian sub-continent.

Included in this post are some images and video clips of Mumbai: these include pictures and a short clip taken in some of the caves on Elephanta Island (a World Heritage site owing to the shrines dating from the 4th century CE); a clip of arriving back in Mumbai on a local ferry with views of the “Gates of India” and the famous Taj Mahal hotel; and pictures of TIFR (including one of my colleague and host, Dr. Shyamalava Mazumdar), the coast at the Institute, and part of the Mumbai skyline from the TIFR.