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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Indian Studies Program reaches one-year mark

Students and guests have celebrated the one-year anniversary of the India Studies Program and the curriculum’s focus on cultural awareness.

Foundation of India Studies Chairman Krishna Vavilala, UH director of International Studies Parul Fernandes and UH associate business professor Saleha Khumawala said they were concerned Indo-American children were losing touch with their ethnic roots.

"We left India, but India has not left us," Vavilala said. "It is still in our hearts."

The program was implemented in fall 2006 by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

The Aug. 12 luncheon celebration featured special guests and speakers including the Consul General of India, who said that the celebration of cultural roots are essential for students to remember.

"It is important that Indian students in America do not lose touch with India," Consul General S.M. Gavai said. "They need to stay connected."

CLASS Dean John Antel said that he approved the program when it was presented to him.

"India is fast becoming a major trading partner with the U.S.," Antel said. "We have a lot of Indo-Americans in the region and a lot of students from India."

Although the program has been implemented, it has not been approved as a minor or major.

Sophomore-level courses consist of history, arts and religion. Elementary Hindi is the only freshman-level language course offered.

Anthropology of India will be offered in the spring. The program will add more courses over the next three years, and by 2010 will offer upper-level courses in Indian art, an advanced course in Hindi language and history of India.

A three-week study abroad program is also available to students interested in traveling. The program, formed in 2004, allows students to visit businesses, financial institutions and government officials.

The trips are offered to students every other year, although they may be offered yearly because of student demand. The last trip in summer 2006 included 33 undergraduate and graduate business students, faculty and administrators. The next trip is scheduled for next summer.

"This trip is designed to allow students to learn about global expansion of business, especially the emerging markets in Asia…. and experience the Indian culture," Khumawala said. "Another objective of this trip is to develop exchange and affiliated studies programs with educational institutions in India which will further the mission of the Bauer College and the University of Houston."

Antel and Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Studies Jerald Strickland said that they will visit India in January to establish relationships between the University and Indian scholars to create a center for India studies at UH.

The Foundation for India Studies awarded UH $10,000, which may be used for student scholarships.

"All this works toward establishing the University of Houston as a global university," Antel said.

For more information on the India Studies Program, visit

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