Philanthropy in Indian American Community

By Inder Singh

In the past few years, the number of India related chairs or programs in the notable universities have increased several folds. Presently, such programs are in existence at Columbia, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, and University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Chicago, Indiana University, State University of New York at Stony Brook and at many more universities. 

The primary goal of funding a chair or program at a university is to establish an endowment to create awareness and understanding of some aspect of India’s culture such as arts, music, literature, drama, philosophy, religion, languages, social and political system. The income from the grant is used in a variety of ways such as hosting of lectures, seminars, research conferences, publication of books, offering courses to students, encouraging study abroad and similar activities to achieve the objectives outlined by the endowment. In 1992, the Indian community made contributions for an India chair at University of California, Berkeley. At the same time, Prof. Thomas Kailath established Sara Kailath Chair in India Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Narpat Bhandari, a co-founder of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) in Santa Clara, California, endowed the Chandra Bhandari Chair in India Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1997. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Talat and Kamil Hasan esta
blished the Kamil and Talat Hasan Endowed Chair in Classical Indian Music with their donation at University of California, Santa Clara. 

Navin Doshi donated funds to create Doshi chair of Indian History in University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and an annual Bridge Builder Award of $10,000 at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. Uka Solanki funded the Yadunandan India Center at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Mohinder Sambhi, Professor Emeritus at David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California donated $2 million in 2007 to John Hopkins University in Washington for setting up the Centre of India Studies in memory of his wife Minno. Dr. Sambhi who was born in Ludhiana, had donated $1 million for a chair in Indian classical music in UCLA in memory of his late wife. 

Drs. Amrik Singh Chattha and Jaswinder Kaur Chattha of West Virginia endowed a chair for Sikh Studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in the memory of their parents. Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany established the Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1998 and endowed a Chair of Opto-Electronics at the University of California in 1999. He also has established Satinder Kaur Kapany Gallery of Sikh Art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies has been set up at University of California, Riverside, with donation from Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Trust. Dr. Harish Rawal Neurosurgeon Jackson, Michigan gave $1 million in Feburary, 2008 to Jackson Community College for Rawal Center for Health Professions. Dr. Rawal and his wife Sudha, also donated $50,000 to Jackson High School for a scholarship in memory of his mother who became widow when he was only nine years old.

Dr. Awtar Singh established a fully funded annual fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley for a top student from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh for graduate studies. He also established a fully endowed fellowship with the University of Colorado at Boulder that pays $5,000 annually to a graduate or an undergraduate student with a parent or grandparent of Indian Origin. 

—To be continued

Inder Singh regularly writes and speaks on Indian Diaspora. He is Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was president of GOPIO from 2004-2009, president of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and was the founding president of Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at

March 2011

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