On May 23rd, India’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, graciously opened her Washington residence to host an event commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the American Institute of Indian Studies and honoring two distinguished scholars of India and former AIIS Research Fellows, Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph, who are Emeritus Professors in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. The Embassy chose this event to inaugurate a new “Understanding India Series” of educational and cultural programs.
More than eighty invited guests from the greater Washington area—India specialists in academia, diplomats, and business and cultural leaders—attended the event, which focused on the contributions of scholars to the understanding of India in the United States. The AIIS furthers this goal by supporting American scholarship on India.
In her welcoming remarks, Ambassador Rao praised the work of AIIS, placing it in the perspective of the Obama-Singh Education Initiative, and spoke of her own admiration for the Rudolphs’ lifetime contribution to Indian studies. This was followed by a brief introduction of the activities of the Institute by Rina Agarwala, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University, and by a warm appreciation of the Rudolphs’ work by Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies at Brown University and Director of the Brown India Initiative. Philip Lutgendorf of the University of Iowa and current AIIS President then gave a short, illustrated lecture, “Chai Why?,” on the cultural history of tea drinking in twentieth-century India. The Ambassador then offered her own felicitation of the Rudolphs, and presented them with bouquets and a plaque honoring “their exceptional contribution to the study and understanding of India.”
In concluding the program, Mrs. Rama Deva, the Co-Chair of the AIIS Board of Advisors and a longtime friend of the Institute, announced a generous endowment gift that she and her husband, Arun, will make to support the documentation work of the AIIS Center for Art and Archeology in Gurgaon.
Following the formal program, guests enjoyed conversation and a lavish Indian buffet, while also taking in the Residence’s beautiful collection of historic and contemporary Indian art, including many pieces from Ambassador Rao’s personal collection.