In response to the overwhelming popularity of and support for The India Program, the center has been made possible by a major gift, an annual fund and an endowment totaling $10 million, provided by The India Group, an alliance of prominent business and professional leaders organized by Anil Deshpande, president of Deshpande Inc. He and his wife Chitra have long supported global initiatives at UCF, including the original India endeavor.

A wide variety of activities is envisioned for The India Center, including public presentations and other community outreach, an annual India forum, and scholarly and research activities. Anticipated activities also include exchanges of scholars and students with institutions in India, new courses and fellowships for UCF students, a sister-university relationship in India and an expanded permanent India collection at the UCF Library.

President John C. Hitt described the project as an ambitious undertaking that aims to enhance partnerships with the Indian community in Central Florida, the nation and throughout the world. “Such connections are of key importance in light of India’s rise to global prominence and its position at the forefront of growth in many fields,” he said.

Tony Waldrop, provost and executive vice president, said, “The India Center will enhance the academic experience for our students by providing greater opportunities to develop a global cultural awareness.”

John C. Bersia, special assistant to the president for Global Perspectives, led the effort to secure the major gift and develop the center concept, and he will serve with Political Science Professor Roger Handberg as interim co-chairs of the center.

“We have already demonstrated that we take India studies very seriously at UCF,” Bersia said. “The enthusiasm for our efforts is clear in the thousands of people – students, faculty, staff and community members – who have participated in our India-related programs. Now, we are ready to take on a larger role, that of helping to shape and define the field.”

Handberg added that The India Center is a multidisciplinary undertaking that will “equip students to deal with issues in national security, foreign policy, economics and culture at all levels of education – undergraduate, graduate and the community.”

The center’s areas of emphasis will include politics, economics and business, technology and communication, culture and health care.

P.N. “Vaidy” Vaidyanathan, an assistant vice president for Research and Commercialization and a member of the advisory board for the new center, called it “a welcome expansion of efforts at UCF to educate students and the general public about the multifaceted cultural, educational and technological developments that are available through ties with India.”

Deshpande said the center will bring immense benefits to the UCF and Central Florida communities.

“We have worked hard to help build a strong foundation for India studies at UCF, and it is time to reach in new directions,” he said.

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