NRI to raise $1 mn for India Chair in Houston | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NRI to raise $1 mn for India Chair in Houston

PTI | ByLalit K Jha (HindustanTimes.com), Minneapolis
Jul 07, 2005 04:46 PM IST

The fund will help Indian diaspora's youth to study about cultural heritage of India, reports Lalit K Jha.

Having accomplished his goal of installing a life size statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Houston Downtown last year, an Indo-American Krishna Vavilal has now taken up another important project, which he considers more significant than the previous one.

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HT Image

The project is to collect $ 1 million (about Rs. 4.5 crores) to set up an Indian Chair in the University of Houston wherein the future generation of the Indian Diaspora could learn and study about the vast and rich cultural heritage of India and its glorious history.

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Heading the project to raise funds for the India Chair at University of Houston, Vavilala told the HindustanTimes.com: "We would certainly raise the requisite fund to set up this centre in Houston, where the population of Indians is increasing very fast."

The fourth largest city of the United States after New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Houston has one of the largest concentrations of the Diaspora in Texas, with more than 100,000 living here and in its neighborhood.

Busy these days planning for fund raisings – likely to begin later this year – Vavilala said establishment of the India Chair at University of Houston was the final step of the three-phase project: offering study program, a department and then the chair.

It is at the initiative of Vavilal in April, University of Houston signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Hyderabad to offer a "Study India Program" for the students here.

The program, he said, will work to develop research, establish a resource center and help the Houston business community. "This is merely a beginning. Our ambition is to make it a place of authentic Indian studies for our future generation," he said.

A first generation immigrant from Andhra Pradesh, Vavilala who has stayed in the U.S. for more than three decades now, was at pains to explain the gradual dischantment of the younger generation of the Diaspora from India.

"If the first generation is too much attached to its roots, it becomes weak in the case of second generation, while the third generation is completely Americanized. At this rate one day we would be left with Indian name and nothing else," he observed.

"An India Study Chair I hope would help us keep the interest in India among these young people in the years to come," he said.  

Having met the Houston University president and chancellor, Jay Gogue, recently in a delegation, Vavilala is more determined than ever to raise the necessary $1 million for the project. "This is going to be a place, where the future generation of the Diaspora is going to benefit. The younger generation should know everything about India," he said.

And if a university offers some course in Indian studies that too with credits, more and more people would be attracted towards it, he said.

Vavilala said it would take about three years to raise the money. "It is going to take a mammoth effort to collect $ 1 million from the community. But I am confident that it would be done as every Indian in Houston wants this to be a success," he said.

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