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Kathleen O'Toole, News Service (650) 725-1939;

Stanford expands its connections to South Asia

As Silicon Valley businesses continue to develop their ties to India, so too does Stanford increase its ties to South Asia. The university has more than 200 students from India, making it the third largest source of foreign students behind Canada and China. Many of these students, as well as some Americans whose ancestry is in India and Pakistan, are eager to take courses and become involved in research projects involving South Asia's economic and social development.

To meet those needs and others, the university for the first time this year offered a competition for faculty who wanted to expand research in or teaching on South Asia. Meanwhile, both the Asia/Pacific Research Center (A/PARC) and the Center for Research on Economic Development and Policy Reform have established active research programs on India, and A/PARC hosts a South Asian seminar series on campus

Students from South Asia also have formed several organizations. Sanskriti promotes friendships among South Asian students and is developing a website on Stanford's work in South Asia. Saathi is a big brother and sister program for children of Indian descent in the local area, and Saheli is an organization for women of South Asian descent.

Like Taiwan before it, India has sent large numbers of computer engineers to the Silicon Valley in recent years, some of whom are now in positions to take the best practices home, said both Rafiq Dossani, an economist and consulting professor at A/PARC, and Purnima Mankekar, an assistant professor of cultural and social anthropology who studies the growing Indian Diaspora in the Bay Area, particularly Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. (See related story on her research.)

A/PARC organizes conferences to aid in the development of India's software industry. Indian government officials spent a week on campus last fall to gain "exposure to the workings of Silicon Valley, particularly as it breeds and develops startups," Dossani said. A/PARC then held industrial development conferences in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Trivandrum during January with speakers from Stanford and firms and organizations in the Bay Area, including The Indus Entrepreneurs group, composed of Indian entrepreneurs in the area.

The Stanford Center for Economic Development and Policy Reform, directed by economics Professor Anne Krueger, has an active India research program that involves visits by scholars and government officials. The center plans a conference on Indian economic policy reform in late May.

Krueger, who has been long associated with Indian economic policy, is currently working on exchange-rate policy. Economics Assistant Professor Anjini Kochar is working on Indian education policy, while research associate Neeraja Sivaramayya studies energy-sector reforms and economics Professor Roger Noll analyzes telecommunication reforms. The center also works with Yale Professor T.N. Srinivasan as a non-resident fellow studying central government-state relations in India.

Research and teaching grants

Mankekar, who hails from New Delhi, received one of the university research grants to study South Asian culture this year. Her project emphasizes the cultural effects of transnational media.

Sociology Professor Emeritus Alex Inkeles received funding for another project on the stability and change of popular values in India. Manishita Dass, a doctoral student in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature, received a grant for her research on the historical emergence of mass audiences for films and on the development of an urban culture in Calcutta. Anthropologist Akhil Gupta and historian Gordon Chang received funding for their research on an early American writer of South Asian origin, D.G. Mukherji.

While Stanford has been a leader in many aspects of Asian studies, it has had only three permanent faculty members who are specialists in South Asia and only about three regular courses, Dossani noted. To expand the course list, the President's Fund and the Fund of the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences also have awarded grants for the development of new courses to Professors Mankekar, Gupta, Mark Mancall and religious studies lecturer Linda Hess. The Anthropological Sciences Department also sponsored Ramachandra Guha, an eminent Indian environmentalist, to teach two courses this quarter.

Dossani, whose research at A/PARC is on financial-sector reform in the delivery of rural credit in South Asia, has collected a list of other faculty researchers pursuing research there:

Ram Akella, professor of engineering, is setting up a joint project at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore to explore topics in high technology and management.

Naushad Forbes, consulting professor of engineering, and Professor Henry Rowen, director of A/PARC, are working on the impact of economic liberalization on Indian firms' technology activities.

Akhil Gupta, associate professor of anthropology, is doing research on development bureaucracies in North India.

Thomas Kailath, professor of electrical engineering and fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, does research on computation with colleagues in India.

Mark Mancall, professor of history, works on Buddhist political and social theory.

Arogyaswami Paulraj, research professor of electrical engineering, works with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore on technology issues.

Armin Rosencranz, a lecturer in human biology, works on environmental law and policy in India.

Scott Sagan, associate professor of political science and co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, is co-editing a book on military doctrines that has chapters on India and Pakistan.

Haresh Shah, professor emeritus of civil engineering, conducts research with academics in India on earthquake risk assessment and other topics.

V. Srinivasan, professor of marketing, sits on advisory boards to the Academy for Management Excellence located in Chennai and the new business school to be established in Hyderabad.

John Weyant, research professor of engineering, is planning a project on India's energy technology and the environment.

Barry Weingast, professor of political science, has written on Indian federalism.

Herman Winick, research professor emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, has been invited to join the International Advisory Committee for the Indus 2 synchrotron radiation project in Indore.



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