The University of South Carolina Aiken and India’s Ajeenkya DY Patil University have teamed up again, this time to offer students in India access to a liberal arts program and ultimately a degree from USC Aiken. The collaboration gives ADYPU students the opportunity to study the same curriculum as USC Aiken while in India, according to a USC Aiken news release. For those interested in a study abroad program, ADYPU students can successfully transfer all their credits to USC Aiken. Through this bachelor’s program, ADYPU students will gain global immersive experiences in history, literature, politics, media, law, business and cultural studies, according to administrators, the release said. “Since times immemorial, we are privileged that India has a long tradition of multidisciplinary and holistic learning systems,” said Dr. Hrridaysh Deshpande, the president of ADYPU. “Our ancient scriptures described education as knowledge of all arts – which is coined as liberal arts in contemporary times – which needs to be revived in modern higher education system.” This new element of the relationship between USC Aiken and ADYPU enhances a mutually beneficial partnership that both institutions have enjoyed for some time, USC Aiken Chancellor Sandra Jordan said.


USCIS is announcing the expansion of its digital Freedom of Information Act Immigration Records System, or FIRST. FIRST is the only system in the U.S. government that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally. This process will save time, improve efficiency and reduce potential errors that can occur with manually handling paper. FOIA requestors with a USCIS online account can submit requests online for their own records. Soon, they will be able to submit online requests for non-A-File material. Later this year, USCIS online account holders will be able to make requests on behalf of another person. “As USCIS continues to move the nation’s legal immigration system away from paper-based services to an electronic future, I am excited to implement the first fully digital FOIA system, and the benefits it will bring for FOIA requestors who take advantage of this service,” said Kenneth Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “FIRST brings the antiquated FOIA process into the 21st century and makes it a more efficient and easy process.” In May 2018, USCIS announced the initial rollout of FIRST, which allowed requestors to create a USCIS online account to receive requested documents digitally. This enabled requestors to login to their account, track requests and download documents. Since the initial rollout of FIRST’s capabilities, users have created more than 77,000 USCIS online accounts to manage and receive FOIA responses.

New Ice-cream Shop Devoted to the Flavors of India

Pooja Bavishi, after being advised three separate times to open an ice cream shop, has done so in Brooklyn, New York. “I’d been talking about it as a far-off dream,” Bavishi said in a Grub Street report. “I didn’t trust myself at that point.” But after taking Penn State’s three-day crash course in all things ice-cream and perfecting an eggless, Philadelphia–style base, Bavishi went all-in in May 2015, selling ice-creams influenced by her Indian American upbringing at the city’s various food markets, under the Malai Ice Cream banner, the report said. After success at markets and in the wholesale realm, Bavishi will finally open a permanent shop on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens. To start, the shop will showcase 12 of the 23 flavors Bavishi has developed over the last four years, the report said. Some, like Turkish coffee, masala chai, salted brown butter pecan, toasted nutmeg, and sea salt vanilla will be accessible to most ice-cream lovers. But it’s flavors like mango and cream, orange fennel, and rose with cinnamon-roasted almonds and toppings like cocoa-nib cardamom shortbread and ghee peanut brittle with jaggery that show off Bavishi’s ability to create impressive flavor combinations inspired by South Asia, the report added. Bavishi will also debut a new flavor each month.  

Bilimoria Receives Fulbright Award to Teach in India

Dr. Purushottama Bilimoria of the GTU’s Mira and Ajay Shingal Center for Dharma Studies has been awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award to teach and conduct research at Ashoka University in Sonipat, Haryana, India. Bilimoria will travel to India for the Fall 2019 semester, where he will teach courses at Ashoka University on “Philosophies of India and the West” and “Gandhi and Nonviolence,” and will pursue additional research on a project entitled, “Rt Hon Srinivasa Sastri: His Relationship with the Empire, Gokhlae, and Gandhi.” Since 2014, Bilimoria has been a core doctoral faculty member and distinguished teaching and research fellow at the Graduate Theological Union, and also serves as a visiting faculty member at U.C. Berkeley. Bilimoria is the author or editor of numerous books, including the Routledge History of Indian Philosophy and Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion. He serves as editor-in-chief of Sophia: International Journal of Philosophy and Traditions, and as coeditor the Journal of Dharma Studies. Dr. Bilimoria will return to the GTU for the Spring 2020 semester, when he will teach a course on “Yoga and Ethics” and “Advanced Dharma Studies.”

By GIOVANNI ALBANESE Jr., India-West Staff Reporter


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