India will provide a grant of $1.5 million to the University of Chicago to establish a Vivekananda Chair for Indian studies, as part of the initiatives to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the 19th century luminary, Swami Vivekananda, and polymath Rabindranath Tagore.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in this regard between Dean of University of Chicago (UOC) Martha Roth and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Sanjiv Mittal, in the presence of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Mr. Mukherjee on Sunday dedicated a plaque of Swami Vivekananda at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) and inaugurated a Tagore art exhibition here, to mark the 150th birth anniversaries of Swami Vivekananda and Tagore. The grant is meant to honour Swami Vivekananda's life and legacy and facilitate exchange of research scholars from/to India.

Martha Roth, Dean of the Humanities and the Chauncey S. Boucher Professor of Assyriology; and Dipesh Chakrabarty, the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations, also spoke about Swami Vivekananda's contribution to religious freedom, which opened the doors of religious tolerance between the East and the West.

Also present was Chicago Consul-General of India Mukta Dutta Tomar.

University students also performed dance and music at the event. The University also did a live webcast of the event that could be viewed from the “UChicago Live” tab in the UChicago Facebook page.

“Swami Vivekananda was practically India's first cultural ambassador to the United States,” Mr. Mukherjee said at Fullerton Hall, where Vivekananda had delivered the famous and historic address at the Parliament of the World Religions in 1893 to tremendous applause.

Pranab pitches for investment

Pitching for foreign investment in infrastructure, which needs $1 trillion in the 12th Five Year Plan, Mr. Mukherjee asked U.S. investors to access the Indian debt market through a mechanism of regulated entities with a sustained long-term interest rate.

Meeting leaders of Fortune 500 companies here, he assured them that India had evolved a transparent and stable regulatory regime in electricity, telecommunications, ports, airports, petroleum and natural gas; a regulator for the coal sector was on the anvil.

He told them that India had liberalised foreign participation in the debt-equity market by allowing foreign investors to invest in the Indian equity directly.