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  December 1, 2003

Family's Gift Launches India Studies Program

The successes of their offspring at UConn and the memory of an inspirational grandmother have resulted in a gift of $100,000 from Gyan and Sheela Joshi to launch a program in India Studies.

Gyan, an investment executive with Systematic Financial Management, and Sheela, a former public school social studies teacher, were honored for their gift Nov. 15, during a reception in the Foundation Building. Faculty member Faquir Jain, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, who helped secure the gift, was also acknowledged during the event.

The gift is intended to enhance undergraduate and graduate instruction and research programs pertaining to Indian culture and heritage, said Boris Bravo-Ureta, executive director of the Office of International Affairs. The fields of proposed research and scholarship include Indian philosophy, classical languages, culture and society, and fine arts.

The endowed gift has established the Rhada Devi Joshi Family Foundation, named for Gyan Joshi's grandmother.

It is important in the life of every youth in India to have grandparents and relatives to pass down important beliefs and practices, Gyan Joshi said, but his daughters, who grew up in America, did not have the opportunity to know their great-grandmother. The Joshis' older daughter, Anita, graduated from the University's medical school in 1996 and is now a pediatrician in Indiana. Their younger daughter Jaya is currently a graduate student at UConn.

He said he remembers his grandmother saying, "Do the right thing. Today. Day after day. Every day. And do it with a smile and no hope of a reward or promise of any kind."

Because of those words, he said, he was not going to place any restrictions on the use of the endowment.

Sheela Joshi said the gift was important to her because "education is the key to solving so many problems." She added that India has a wealth of knowledge and spirituality that she believes this country can benefit from.

Ron Taylor, vice provost for multicultural and international affairs, said there is a widespread need for India Studies at universities across the country and he hopes the UConn program will serve as a model.