Yale India Initiative and Urban India

Since its official launch in New Delhi in November 2008, the Yale India Initiative has worked on several fronts to make Yale University a pre-eminent center for the study and teaching of India and South Asia. With over ten recent appointments of senior and junior faculty having expertise in India and South Asia, a flourishing South Asian Studies major and widening array of course offerings, innovative leadership and training programs, new partnerships and collaborations, a thriving postdoctoral and visiting faculty program, annual conferences and workshops, regular cultural events, and growing numbers of students with interests in India, Yale’s leadership in the study and teaching of India and South Asia is already markedly stronger.

The Yale India Initiative enables the development of thematic foci on urbanization, public health, law, governance and citizenship, Himalayan environment and development, literature and the arts, liberal arts education in India, and leadership training. Among these, urban India – which is growing rapidly, and where more than half of all Indians are expected to live by 2030 – presents urgent challenges for research and policy. To promote activity on campus and stimulate new and innovative research in urban India, the South Asian Studies Council collaborated with Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements to organize a series of three India Urban conferences, which concluded with a policy consultation in New Delhi on November 21 and 22. Sponsored by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, this conference deliberated on the findings and discussions of earlier meetings in Mysore on November 17-20, and in New Haven on April 29-30.

More than a dozen Yale faculty members various from Arts and Sciences departments, and several professional schools, participated in these conferences, along with an equal number of students. Sessions considered topics like land and urban infrastructure, planning, governance and citizenship, migration and livelihood, education and health, public culture, enterprise and urban finance. Yale participants gave talks, presented posters, and established new collaborations with colleagues in India for future research on urban India. In all, over 1,000 people from academia, civil society, government, and business in India participated in these series of conferences.

“We were very pleased to see that over 200 participants were students articulating new ideas for the study of urban India and exploring sustainable solutions to the most important challenges of urbanization in India,” said Professor Shivi Sivaramakrishnan, Chair, South Asian Studies at Yale.