University of Pittsburgh Establishes New Relationship with Indian Council for Cultural Relations

The University of Pittsburgh and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a
new ICCR Chair of Indian Studies at Pitt for the next five years.

Pitt Chancellor Emeritus and Chair of the University’s Institute of Politics Mark Nordenberg represented Pitt at the ICCR headquarters in New Delhi on November 13, 2017, for the signing of the MOU. Representing the ICCR was Indian Director General Riva Ganguly Das.

The ICCR is an autonomous organization of the Government of India that works with some of the most prominent cultural organizations in the world to promote a wider understanding of Indian culture and history.  The ICCR Chair program seats preeminent faculty from Indian universities at prominent universities across the globe in order to support the development of India Studies.  Additionally, the organization supports a large number of cultural programs and academic conferences. Pitt’s ICCR Chair will be one of the first established in the United States.

The establishment of this chair is a direct link to the Pitt Global Professorships initiative detailed as part of Embracing the World: A Global Plan for Pitt. The ICCR will work with Pitt to annually invite a scholar from either the social sciences or the humanities from a leading Indian university to work with Pitt faculty and students.

The University continues to develop its relationship with India and, in recent years, has welcomed prominent Indian government officials to campus, including Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed “MJ” Akbar in 2014 and Director General Das in 2016.

In 2016, the University created a South Asia Initiative to facilitate communication and collaboration between students and faculty and to provide opportunities for more active engagement with the local community.

The signing of the MOU took place during a weeklong trip to India by Pitt representatives, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Trade Office, in an effort to build stronger ties that will benefit the University, the Commonwealth, and the United States.

“India is already a great trade partner with the United States and Pennsylvania, but trips like this are integral to building ties that will result in both deeper existing and new partnerships,” Nordenberg said.  “Thanks to our strong alumni network, the University can offer introductions to business and governmental leaders that other trade missions might not be able to access.”

A team of five visited New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. In each city the delegation of Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs; Mark Nordenberg; Sanjeev Shroff, distinguished professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in bioengineering; Joseph Alter,  professor of anthropology; and Jason Kane, director of constituent relations; met with universities, representatives from private companies, and influential Pitt alumni in an effort to build new economic bonds and strengthen those already in place.

The trip was coordinated with the Pennsylvania Trade and Investment Office – India. The office works in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to strengthen business ties between Pennsylvania and India.

While in India, the team also visited the Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Healthcare (WISH Foundation) founded by Sunil Wadhwani of Presto, Pa., and the Science Health Allied Research Education (SHARE) at MediCiti (International Medical Science City) founded by Sudhakar Pesara “P.S.” Reddy, MD, of UPMC.

Those on the trip had the opportunity to network with Pitt alumni living in India at a social event in each city, where Nordenberg and Armony offered an update on the University and its growing commitment to internationalization.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity to take our engagement with India to new, exciting levels,” said Armony. “In building
strong, strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships with India, we underscore our goal of taking Pitt to the world and bringing the world to Pitt.”

More than 500 Pitt Alumni call India home. There are an additional 484 students from India currently attending Pitt, which is second only to China.