Nation & World

Government of India gives $4.5M to support grad students

4 min read

Gift honors 75th birthday of economist Amartya Sen

The government of India has given Harvard University $4.5 million to support fellowships for graduate students from India. The gift recognizes the accomplishments of Harvard Professor of Economics and Philosophy and Thomas W. Lamont University Professor Amartya Sen and his work for social and economic justice across the globe. It also recognizes the work of Harvard’s South Asia Initiative toward establishing Harvard as a locus for the study of South Asia.

The gift will establish India Fellowships, which will provide fellowships to highly accomplished and deserving students from India for studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“Harvard is grateful to the government of India for this generous gift to support graduate students and to honor the important work of Professor Amartya Sen,” said Harvard University President and Lincoln Professor of History Drew Faust. “We are fortunate to have Professor Sen on our faculty and share India’s pride in calling him a member of our community. I can think of no more fitting way to celebrate Professor Sen and to strengthen the important ties between Harvard and India.”

“I am glad that Harvard has accepted this gift on the occasion of the 75th birth anniversary of Professor Amartya Sen, who is a great son of India and one of the world’s foremost contemporary thinkers,” said Ronen Sen, ambassador of India to the United States. “I am confident that these fellowships, by providing new opportunities for gifted students from India to study at Harvard, will further expand the University’s impressive scholarship on India, especially its South Asia Initiative.”

Sen’s work in economics is celebrated for its interdisciplinary nature, with research in diverse areas such as development economics, philosophy, public health, and gender inequality. Although he has spent his entire career in academia, Sen has translated his expertise in economics into practical, on-the-ground approaches to predict and fight famine, as well as ways to measure poverty. In 1998, he won the Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions to the field of welfare economics. He has written extensively on economic justice, and his books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

“I am delighted that the gift will help bright Indian students to come to Harvard,” said Sen. “The students receiving the India Fellowships will have the opportunity of studying at what is perhaps the best university in the world, and Harvard too will benefit from having wonderful students who could not otherwise afford to come here.”

The South Asia Initiative at Harvard University, directed by Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs Sugata Bose, is a center for scholarly research and academic inquiry, with a particular focus on modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Sen is one of nine senior faculty members who compose the South Asia Initiative Faculty Steering Committee, a cross-disciplinary body that sets the academic agenda for the South Asia Initiative. Since its founding, the initiative has convened renowned South Asia specialists from around the globe, inviting scholars and public leaders to Harvard as visiting academics and lecturers. Supporting international study programs for both American and South Asian students, the initiative is highly regarded as a center of excellence that reflects Harvard’s commitment to international studies and expansion. In 2008, the initiative supported 67 students — 35 graduate and 32 undergraduate — with grants to study and conduct research in South Asia.

“Professor Amartya Sen has been an inspiration to generations of scholars and students. I can think of no better way of honoring him on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The South Asia Initiative is immensely grateful to the government and people of India for this farsighted gesture that will enhance the flow of knowledge between Harvard and India,” said Bose.