LONDON: The Oxford University has granted the status of ?Recognised Independent Centre? to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS)?a leading centre for the study of Hindu traditions.
The OCHS, established seven years ago, is a resource for scholars, media, and the business community, seeking reliable information on Hindu philosophy, culture, and practice. It is funded by public subscription.
The new formal status, ?Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University?, has been created by Oxford University to acknowledge independent institutions that are working with the University in research and teaching.
Around 50 Oxford University students currently use the facilities of the centre. The centre'sacademic director, Professor Gavin Flood, who is also a member of Oxford University'sFaculty of Theology, said: ?Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University is a title we are proud to bear. It is an official recognition by the University that we are its principal provider in the field of Hindu Studies, and thus a duly constituted member of the University'scommunity.
?This development is important because culture and religion are of fundamental public concern as we move into the 21st century. We see this concern particularly in questions of identity politics, the degree to which diverse communities share common values, and the ways in which ethical codes interact with secular law.?
The Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes, said: ?This development in the field of Hindu Studies at Oxford is very exciting. It is an important addition to Oxford'swealth of resources on India and Indian religious traditions.
?It fits in well with our goal to attract more Indian students to come and study at Oxford. The new official association provides a platform for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Oxford University to move forward together in teaching, research and publishing.?
The OCHS is yet another link in India'slong association with Oxford. The Boden Chair of Sanskrit was established in 1830 and the twentieth century saw the addition of the Spalding Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethics (formerly held by Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, later President of India). That chair expanded Oxford'swork into new areas such as Hindu Theology and Philosophy.
The recently-established Chair in Indian History and Culture, funded by a benefaction from the Government of India, helps make Indian studies ever more central to the University'sacademic mission.
Through the work of this Chair and the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, the University is well placed to continue forming ambitious new partnerships between Oxford and contemporary India.
Indian High Commissioner Kamlesh Sharma, said: ?The rising profile of India and the remarkable success of the worldwide community of Indian origin have increased interest in the foundations of India'sculture and traditions.
?The affiliation with Oxford University advances the work of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in providing serious academic focus on Hindu culture and its depth of wisdom and creativity for a wide audience. It is a significant gain for Oxford.?
A benefactor of the Centre, Alfred Ford, great-grandson of Henry Ford, said: ?With greater mobility, accelerating development and an increasing emphasis on global trade, audiences both internationally and within India, need to be ever more clear about Hindu culture; its interpretation can and does affect a large and economically significant population.
?Indeed, international business and politics now demand a much richer, more multi-faceted view of India. By facilitating young intellectuals we will help preserve and develop understandings of Indian culture between traditions?.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])