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Universität Heidelberg Opens Heidelberg Center South Asia in New Delhi

11 11 2009
Enhancing academic cooperation with the countries of South Asia

On Tuesday, 17 November 2009, Heidelberg University will be opening the Heidelberg Center South Asia in New Delhi. With this new centre the University is extending and enhancing the activities of the liaison office with which its South Asia Institute has been represented in India for almost 50 years. The Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, and the Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Virendra Gupta, will attend the ceremony. On the day before, the university and the ICCR plan to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History.

Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute (SAI) was founded in 1962. Its teaching and research focuses on the countries of South Asia, among them Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Interdisciplinary in its approach and aims, the institute combines cultural studies of an historical and philological nature with the social sciences, economics and geography. Through its office in India the SAI cultivates academic cooperation with numerous partner institutions. Since May 2009, the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” is also represented at this location.

The establishment of the Heidelberg Center South Asia is designed to further promote academic cooperation between Heidelberg University and teaching and research institutions in South Asia. The opening ceremony will take place at the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi. At the ceremony, the Rector of Heidelberg University and the Director General of ICCR will be joined by Klaus Tappeser, Ministerialdirektor of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, who will also deliver a speech on this occasion. At the subsequent presentation, Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels, co-director of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe”, will elaborate on the scholarly significance of Heinrich Zimmer’s work and Heidelberg’s long tradition of research on India.

The Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History is a jointly endowed professorship awarded by the ICCR, the Indian government’s highest-ranking institution for the promotion of its international cultural policies. It is the first of its kind in Germany. For an initial period of two years starting in April 2010, a renowned scholar from India will hold the chair. The chair is named after Professor Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), who taught Indian philology in Heidelberg from 1924 to 1938, when he was forced to leave the university by the National Socialists.


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