Yale partners in Indian justice program

As part of efforts to expand its influence and communication with South Asia, Yale is partnering with other schools to create a global justice program in India.

Thomas Pogge, founder of the Global Justice Program at Yale, first teamed up with professors from the University of Delhi and the University of Birmingham in October 2011 to create a program in the Indian capital to raise awareness about global justice and to find concrete solutions to poverty in India. The professors received roughly 50,000 pounds ($75,000) in funding from the British Council, an organization that promotes cultural relationships between the United Kingdom and other nations, to create the Nyaya Global Justice Programme at the University of Delhi.

“We aim to build on our understanding of poverty and bridge the divide between what we understand and what we must do,” said Ashok Acharya, a political science professor at University of Delhi, on Wednesday.

Acharya, a visiting professor at Yale this year, said the program will create an idea platform through which academics will advise activists and government officials on methods of responding to poverty in India. One of the plans for the project, he said, is a class on global human rights that will be streamed online for students at Yale and New Delhi.

The grant from the British Council will also serve to support a student exchange program between the three universities, Acharya said. The program will encourage a “trilateral mobility” and hopefully build a new generation of students devoted to the cause of global rights, he said. Yale will welcome the first visiting student in the Nyaya program, a research scholar from New Delhi who studies voting rights in India, in April.

“This is not just a resource center,” Acharya said. “It has to help develop a second generation of leadership, create an ongoing dialogue that will not stop when I leave.”

Pogge, who collaborates closely with Acharya, said the program is innovative because it includes scholars in discussions of world issues, adding that scholars can contribute knowledge that could improve the efficiency of nongovernmental organizations.

Acharya and Pogge said they intend to use the 50,000 pound budget carefully.

“We don’t want to be one of those organizations pretending to save the world but really spending all of their money on airfares and destroying the planet ecologically,” said Pogge.

George Joseph, director for Asia and the Leadership Programs at Yale’s Office of International Affairs, said the Nyaya Global Justice Programme will help support the University’s goals of creating initiatives in India and South Asia.

Though he said he was not directly involved in creating the program, University President Richard Levin said Yale encourages professors to participate in initiatives like this one.

“This is an example of a faculty member … getting engaged in an international partnership,” Levin said. “[This is] exactly the type of thing we want to promote — for faculty to be entrepreneurial about international engagements.”

“Nyaya” is the Hindi word for “justice.”

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