Faust Strengthens Ties in India

This past week University President Drew G. Faust travelled to Mumbai and Delhi, visiting schools and strengthening Harvard’s ties with India.

During this visit, Faust’s first time in India, the president has divided her time between meeting with alumni and making the case for liberal arts education.

In a speech at the University of Mumbai, Faust said that though technology has and will continue to play a crucial role in India’s recent economic rise, a strong background in the liberal arts enables stronger international business relations.

“Connectivity and mobility do not necessarily confer understanding. The world is in one sense, flatter, but it is also many-featured and complex,” Faust said, referring to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat.”

“Our aim at Harvard is to give students the tools needed to navigate a world that is flat and not flat—the tools needed to adjust to the circumstances of life, however surprising they may be” she continued.

Faust’s speech drew on India’s history and work by leading Indian academics. She quoted figures such as Jawaharlal Nehru, free India’s first prime minister, and Harvard professor Homi K. Bhabha, a leading thinker in post-colonial studies.

Prior to the speech, students from the University of Mumbai welcomed Faust with a performance of the school’s anthem, according to Harvard Magazine. Vice chancellor Rajan Welukar said that Faust’s visit was “the happiest day in the history of the University of Mumbai.”

According to Harvard Magazine, Faust spent time at Mumbai’s Harvard Club chatting with alumni of Harvard’s various schools. Faust also toured the Harvard’s South Asia Initiative’s center and an all-girls high school.

In recent years Harvard has paid particular attention to India. In 2003, Harvard created the South Asia Initiative, which seeks to encourage academic research in regional issues.

In the past few years, Harvard has also seen a considerable increase in monetary gifts from international, and particularly Indian, donors. In 2010, the University received more than $65 million from three Indian donors—N. R. Narayana Murthy, Tata Trusts and Companies, and Anand G. Mahindra ’77.

In November, Siddhartha Yog, a graduate of the Business School and founder and partner of The Xander Group Inc., donated $11 million to establish two new professorships and an intellectual entrepreneurship fund, and to support fellowships and financial aid.

—Staff writer Alyza J. Sebenius can be reached at asebenius@college.harvard.