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Last modified: Monday, January 12, 2009

India awards IU professor with one of its highest national honors

Jan. 12, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday (Jan. 9) presented Indiana University Professor Sumit Ganguly with one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an Indian living abroad, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.

Sumit Ganguly

Sumit Ganguly (center) accepts the award from Prabitha Devisingh Patil, the President of India (far right).

Ganguly, director of the India Studies Institute in IU's College of Arts and Sciences, also is research director of the IU Center on American and Global Security, professor of political science and the Rabindranath Tagore Professor in Indian Cultures and Civilizations. He was nominated for the award by Ronen Sen, India's ambassador to the United States, for Ganguly's scholarly and public affairs contributions.

More than 1,500 delegates from around the world gathered at the Chennai Trade Centre, in the nation's southeastern coastal city for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention. The three-day annual conference promotes strong relations between the government of India and Indians abroad and acknowledges their role in India's all-round development.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards are given on the event's closing day to distinguished overseas Indians for their contributions toward better understanding of India abroad, welfare of the Indian diaspora, scholarly and intellectual contributions and philanthropic work for social and humanitarian causes in India and abroad.

"It is both exciting and humbling that people in India have taken heed of what I write and of what I produce in my scholarship," said Ganguly, a native of West Bengal who is a U.S. citizen. "This is an award that has been given to people of much greater stature than me ... It came as a complete surprise."

"I congratulate Professor Ganguly on this important award. It is a significant recognition of his many contributions to our understanding of India, the world's largest democracy," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "IU is indeed fortunate to have faculty members with such international expertise. They bring great credit to our university."

Previous award recipients have included Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author best known for her first novel The Namesake; Dr. Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American astronaut who perished in Space Shuttle Columbia; Sunita Williams, another NASA astronaut who holds the holds the record of the longest spaceflight for women; Dipak C. Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management; and Indra Nooyi, chairperson and chief executive officer of PepsiCo.

"I am delighted to be included in the company of a number of other highly accomplished and noted Americans of Indian origin," Ganguly added.

Ganguly also recently received a formal letter from Singh thanking him for his efforts in support of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Initiative, approved by Congress in October.

Before coming to IU in 2003, Ganguly had been on the faculty at Michigan State University, Hunter College of the City University of New York and the University of Texas at Austin. He has also been a fellow and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and a visiting fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

He serves on the editorial boards of Asian Affairs, Asian Survey, Current History, the Journal of Strategic Studies and Security Studies. He is also the founding editor of both the India Review and Asian Security. He is the author, editor or co-editor of a dozen books on South Asia and is working on a new book, India Since 1980.

While he was in India to accept the award, Ganguly also presented an endowed lecture at Viswabharati University, which was founded by poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore with proceeds from his Nobel Prize award. "It's particularly apt that I got to give this lecture at the home of one of India's greatest sons," he said.