AIIS History

A Need and a Service

The Institute was established in 1961 by a group of American scholars involved in programs of Indian studies at leading American universities. They were led by W. Norman Brown, Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Pennsylvania, who brought a long-held dream to reality with the creation of a non-governmental academic consortium to facilitate research on India. Funding came from various public and private sources.

Under the leadership of six presidents, the Institute has flourished and is today recognized as the leading proponent of Indian studies in the United States. Its operations rely heavily on volunteer work by scholars in the United States and India and on a small, dedicated staff at the American headquarters in Chicago and the Indian headquarters in Delhi and Gurugram, as well as at regional offices in important Indian cities.

During its more than 50 years, the Institute has grown from a small fellowship-granting agency. The addition of active regional offices, an internationally regarded Language Program, significant support for U.S. study abroad programs in India, two major research centers, and facilities for short-term accommodation of scholars have made the Institute indispensable to American knowledge about India.

Financial support for the Institute has come from a wide variety of sources. Originally, it was funded by private foundations. Prominent among them were the Ford, Mellon, Old Dominion, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations, as well as the JDR 3rd Fund. Today the Institute receives primary funding from the U.S. State Department, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Current AIIS President:

Sumathi Ramaswamy 2018-

Past AIIS Presidents:

Philip Lutgendorf 2010-2018
Ralph W. Nicholas 2002-2010
Frederick Asher 1994-2002
Joseph Elder 1986-1994
Edward Dimock 1973-1986
Ainslee Embree 1971-1973
Norman Brown 1962-1971