Parag and Usha Saxena Gift $10 Million to Brown University to Expand South Asia Studies
Professor Ashutosh Varshney directs the Saxena Center for Contemporary South Asia at Brown University.
India-West Staff Reporter
PROVIDENCE, RI – With a $10 million gift from Parag and Usha Saxena, parents of three of its graduates, Brown University will elevate and extend the global reach of its ground breaking teaching and research on issues of modern South Asia, the university said in a press release. The gift will enable the center to expand its footprint in research, teaching, public policy, and programming.
Ashutosh Varshney, a professor of international studies and political science who directs the center, noted that it currently has four areas of programmatic and research focus: democracy, urban development, pluralism, and inequalities.
The gift will make it possible to expand the center’s offerings, have more ambitious research plans, and send more students for research, language training and internships in South Asia, Varshney said.
In addition, the Saxena Center will deepen its relationship with Brown’s School of Public Health. SPH Dean Dr. Ashish Jha’s conviction that the problems of public health are not exclusively the domain of medicine, said Varshney, “made it easy to extend an intellectual arm for collaboration.”
The Saxena Center and the school will work together to create academic programs at Brown and forge partnerships with Indian institutions.
The Saxenas said they are excited about the prospect of furthering the work of Varshney and Jha in South Asia, and hope that their gift will foster discussion and research among policymakers and scholars in the social sciences.
But they also hope it will promote scholarship on and appreciation of South Asian literature, culture, and art, about which they are passionate.
The Saxena’s said their support for the center is based in their own Indian heritage and continued interest in India and South Asia.
As three-time Brown parents, Parag and Usha Saxena formed an initial affiliation with the University through their children, but the couple over time developed a personal relationship with Simmons.
In 2010, Parag Saxena traveled to India with Simmons to introduce her to his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, where he earned his degree in chemical engineering.
The Saxenas sustained philanthropy has contributed meaningfully to Brown’s India and South Asia programs, the press release said. Parag Saxena came to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering and subsequently completed an MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
His business experience spans four decades, with considerable activities and interests in South Asia as well as venture capital in the US.