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Symposium to focus on 60th anniversary of India's independence

Melissa Mitchell, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As India celebrates 60 years of independence from British rule, an ever-evolving set of economic, environmental, political and cultural challenges lies ahead for the world’s largest democracy.

Those challenges – and potential solutions – will be the focus of “India Sixty: The Critical Questions,” a symposium that will bring speakers and other participants from throughout the United States and Asia to the University of Illinois campus Nov. 2-3.

The symposium, free and open to the public, begins at 9 a.m. Nov. 2 in 210 Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

“Since the U.S.-India partnership is expected to be an important feature of the 21st century, and given the steady growth of the Indian-American community in the United States as a whole, the best possible understanding of India’s challenges and opportunities is vital,” said Rajmohan Gandhi, a professor in International Programs and Studies and the director of the Global Crossroads Living and Learning Community.

Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma Gandhi, is among the featured speakers on a panel on “India and Global Security,” coordinated by Matthew Rosenstein, the interim director of the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security. Gandhi also is coordinating one of the symposium’s six panel discussions. That panel, titled “One Billion Human Beings,” will focus on some of the human realities and paradoxes behind the headlines proclaiming India’s success, including the fact that as India increasingly services the needs of information-technology users in the United States, two-fifths of its own population is illiterate.

Another panel, “Information Technology: The Global Indian Experience,” coordinated by Ravishankar K. Iyer and Narendra Ahuja of the U. of I.’s Coordinated Science Laboratory and department of electrical and computer engineering, will explore the economic and cultural impact of IT industries on India, and look at the ways in which Indian entrepreneurs in the U.S. and India have influenced the global software industry.

Other panels, U. of I. faculty coordinators and their academic affiliations:

“Water, Culture and Environmental Sustainability,” James Wescoat and Amita Sinha, landscape architecture, and Prasanta Kalita, College of Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Cultural Diversity in India,” Pradeep A. Dhillon, educational policy studies.

“The Indian Elephant in the Global Marketplace,” Anju Seth, business administration.

Registration and other information about the event – and pre-symposium activities on Nov. 1 – are available online.

For more information, contact Matt VanderZalm,