UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of the South Asia Foundation (SAF) Madanjeet Singh will grant half-a-million dollars to establish a building for the Institute of Kashmir Studies at the University of Kashmir.
The decision was taken after consulting Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah during his visit to Puducherry on Tuesday, Mr. Singh told TheHindu.
The Institute of Kashmir Studies is one of the institutes of excellence established by the SAF in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Both of us have agreed that I will give half-a-million dollars from my private account to establish a building for the institute as in other institutes of excellence,” Mr. Singh said.
The SAF will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Pondicherry University in mid-October to coincide with the university's silver jubilee celebrations.
The meeting of the SAF's governing council would be held on the occasion, when chairpersons of the eight chapters would congregate here.
Mr. Singh plans to bring all students who studied in the different institutes of excellence in the last 10 years for the celebrations.
“There will be nearly 100 students and this will facilitate a meeting of young people. I am hoping that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be able to come and inaugurate the celebrations,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Singh and Dr. Abdullah unveiled the building model and plaque for the Madanjeet Singh School of Green Energy Technologies at the Pondicherry University, which was the 12th institute of excellence of the SAF and second in the university after the Madanjeet Singh Institute of South Asia Regional Cooperation.
A total of $2 million was being granted to the university for a period of five years towards setting up the two institutes and scholarships for students.
“We are establishing institutes of excellence in global warming in the Maldives, water management in Sri Lanka and forestry in Bhutan,” Mr. Singh said.
The other SAF institutes of excellence are — Afghanistan (heritage), Bangladesh (common law and human rights), India (four institutes: Kashmir Studies in Kashmir, journalism studies at the Asian College of Journalism in Chennai and two in Puducherry), Nepal (public health and regional cooperation) and Pakistan (two institutes: South Asian Arts and South Asian Studies).
“We pledge to each of the institutes $1.5 million and half-a-million dollars for schools/centres. For buildings, I give half-a-million dollars from my personal account,” Mr. Singh said.
The institutes were offering a minimum of 16 scholarships for a boy and girl from each of the SAARC countries, he said. Interaction between the students and faculty of the various institutes would be worked out by next year.
“South Asia, like the European Union, should have a common currency so that friendly relations between the countries can be created eventually,” Mr. Singh said.