An assistant professor in the department of English, Amrita Ghosh researches South Asian literature and film — specifically, from the rising global superpower of India. In 2022 when the International Booker Prize — a prestigious award given to the best piece of translated fiction each year — went to an Indian author for the first time, she was thrilled and aspired to connect her students and the broader public with the author. Thanks to Ghosh’s involvement with The India Center at UCF, she accomplished just that.
The India Center is part of the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs, and is a preeminent location for the study of India’s role in the world today. The center partners with the Indian American Chamber of Commerce, the Indian American Business Association and Chamber and numerous educational institutions, and through its resources and connections, helps faculty members further their work as it relates to India.
For Ghosh, the center gave her a platform to host a virtual Q&A, co-sponsored by the department of English, with the International Booker Prize recipients: author Geetanjali Shree and the American translator of the book, Daisy Rockwell. The center also helped promote the event to the broader Indian community in Central Florida and beyond, generating an impressive turnout. The center also provided resources for “10,000 Memories,” an in-person Q&A hosted by Ghosh with Guneeta Bhalla, founder of the 1947 Partition Archive that documents, shares and preserves oral histories of Partition witnesses. The event was widely attended by students and broader community members last month to learn more about the partition of India, which refers to the end of Britain’s rule over the subcontinent and it being divided into two independent nation states, India and Pakistan, which led to mass human migration and violence.
“I’m very happy to be in a space where my work connects to this center and gets connected to the greater community in an exciting and dynamic way,” Ghosh says.
The center partners with faculty across disciplines, including engineering, film, history, hospitality and philosophy. Students can take various courses on South Asian culture, history and politics, and gearing up for launch in the coming years is an Indian studies certificate where students can learn about India’s rising global prominence.
“The U.S. government for the last several years has really emphasized the importance of India,” says Leila Chacko, director of public affairs for the India Center, noting in 2010 the two countries established the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue with a focus on climate change, global security, technology and trade.
“The political relationship is important, but India is really moving ahead with tech and the U.S. can learn a lot from how advanced India is,” Chacko says.
The center also forges global relationships with academic institutions to create educational opportunities for students. Thanks to an agreement with the Vellore Institute of Technology in India, for instance, students needing computer engineering, computer science or math credits can complete their requirements abroad through a semester-long exchange program. The agreement is the first UCF-sponsored study abroad program to India, Chacko says.
Yet, for those who stay local, the center has numerous resources to immerse in Indian culture, history, politics and technology. In January, for India’s Republic Day, the Consul General of India in Atlanta, Swati Kulkarni, donated more than 200 books to the center that span Indian art, cooking, history, language, politics, religion and even yoga. Her donation makes the India Center the first of its kind in the southeast with such a collection, says Chacko, who adds the books are available to borrow from the center.
“The idea for this center began among local community members, who still support our work today,” says Chacko. “We work hard to establish the center as the preeminent location in the country to study India’s place in the world today. We envision UCF as the place where community members, organizations and others can all come together; we can be their unifier.”
For more information on the India Center, see here: theindiacenter.ucf.edu.