“We need more centers like this to train the new generation of Indian American leaders to swell the ‘Samosa Caucus’ in the Congress,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., at a gala to celebrate Stony Brook University’s Mattoo Center for India Studies’ 20th anniversary. The gala also celebrated the establishment of a permanent $5 million endowment and a prestigious endowed chair.
In a fundraising campaign led by Dr. Nirmal Mattoo, chairman of the center’s executive committee, and other community leaders like Sreedhar Menon and Rakesh Kaul, among others, the Indian American community raised $2.5 million, which was matched dollar for dollar by the James and Marilyn Simons Foundation, resulting in a total impact of $5 million, making it the largest endowment for India Studies to an American public university.
The endowment includes a $1.25 million donation from Dr. Nirmal and Augustina Mattoo to establish the Nirmal and Augustina Mattoo Chair in Classical Indic Humanities; a $250,000 gift from Dr. Yashpal and Dr. Urmilesh Arya for the Arya India Studies Library; three $150,000 gifts from Sreedhar Menon, Deepak and Neera Raj, and from an anonymous donor; and three $100,000 endowments from Dr. Krishna Gujavarty for an annual seminar on leadership and values, among others.
Nirmal Mattoo praised the university for its enlightened appreciation of the importance of India’s contributions to knowledge and the Indian American community for their steadfast and generous support of the center’s mission.
Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty, who was the guest of honor, commended the center for making public service as much of a priority as academic excellence.
Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., president of Stony Brook University, praised the Indian American community for their tireless efforts in building the center and the generosity that has helped secure the center’s financial future.
The center also announced the appointment of Prof. Arindam Chakrabarti, an eminent authority on Indian philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, as the inaugural holder of the Mattoo Chair in Classical Indic Humanities. Chakrabarti, and his wife, Prof. Vrinda Dalmia, a well-known scholar of feminist epistemology, will join Stony Brook in 2018.
Congratulating the Indian American community, Dr. Sacha Kopp, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that a public university “has the responsibility not only to serve the public through education but to give back to the public in the form of knowledge and sharing and fostering community and culture.”
Prof. S.N. Sridhar, director of the center. called the center “a symbol of our generation’s gratitude to our home country that gave us the tools to succeed, and to our adopted home country that gave us the opportunities to succeed, and our legacy to the coming generations.”
It is a symbol of our shared values and commitment to public education, he said. Looking to the future, he said the next goal would be to expand India studies at the graduate level and build the center as a powerful think tank on Indian perspectives.
To mark the occasion, the center released a colorful journal presenting the evolution of the center and its multifarious accomplishments.