Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Homi Bhabha hopes Mahindra's $10 mn to Harvard helps humanities

Indian industrialist Anand Mahindra's US$ 10 million gift to the Humanities Center at Harvard will help the institute bring humanities into the arena of policy making and enhance collaborations between other fields of knowledge, renowned Indian scholar Homi Bhabha said. Coming from India, the gift also "emphasises the global reach of the humanities," Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Centre and Harvard's Anne Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, said.

Anand Mahindra's gift will enable the Centre "to enhance collaborations between the humanities and other fields of knowledge at Harvard and widen the reach of the humanities nationally and abroad". The gift would also help Harvard bring the humanities into the arena of policymaking, he said, "where at this point the humanities have only a feeble voice".

The Centre, said Bhabha, already has reached out to the social and natural sciences. "The humanities never sit still," said the India-born scholar who has a doctorate in literature from Oxford University. The humanities always busy themselves with the business of the world, and refuse to be contained. Through the 10 million dollar gift, the Humanities Center aims to sponsor more events, support more doctoral and postdoctoral students, help younger colleagues turn dissertations into books, and open up 'larger circles of collegiality'," Bhabha added.

The gift itself provides a reminder that India and South Asia have long traditions of accomplishment within the "cosmopolitan realm of the humanities". "It was never just a region defined by religion --- Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity --- but even today is a lively home to writers, performers, painters and poets," Bhabha said. In this age of innovation, "the themes, values, and images" of culture are "continually being translated by different media," he said. "This is just the kind of issue that the humanities always deal with. The humanities are most perceptive in thinking about complex moments of transition," he said.

Mahindra's 10 million dollar gift is "the largest of its kind in the University's history". The Harvard alumnus and Mahindra & Mahindra's Vice-Chairman and Managing Director has given the gift in honour of his mother Indira Mahindra. The Centre is now renamed the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. After studying film at the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies in 1973, Mahindra earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1981.

Source: The Economic Times, October 6, 2010
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