Auburn University's Indian Music Ensemble performs before a talk with Mr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi, as part of its "Year of India" program. Image: Auburn University Photographic Services.

Auburn’s “Year of India” Off to a Roaring Start


The sound of bat against ball could be heard on in Alabama on March 9th, 2016 as Auburn University’s Indian Student Association and members of the Auburn Cricket Club played a friendly cricket match. A sport that has recently been gaining modest popularity in America, cricket took center stage at Auburn University as part of its “Year of India” program, which concludes in April as the school year draws to a close.

In February, as part of the “Year of India” program, Auburn University welcomed Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Arun Ghandi to speak on his grandfather’s legacy of non-violent protest, a topic that has gained renewed relevance in America today. Born and raised in South Africa during apartheid, Mr. Gandhi, who later went to India to live with his grandfather, told students that he hopes people will “see the value of non-violence” and “wake up to the fact that this kind of violent lifestyle is not good for civilized society.”

The “Year of…” program at Auburn University began in 2012 with the “Year of East Asia” and in each year since there has been a focus on a particular country or region of the world. Jennifer Mason, Director of International Initiatives in the Office of International Programs at Auburn University, told Asia Matters for America that India was chosen this year because Indian students currently represent the 2nd largest group of international students at the university, which makes it “vitally important to help our campus community and our wider community understand and engage with the variety of cultures represented here on our campus.” The “Year of India” calendar of events will conclude on April 10th with a Bollywood Night celebrating the unique Indian dancing style.

Student exchange and studying abroad are also integral to the strong relationship that Auburn shares with India. In addition to cultural programs about India, students have the opportunity this year to study in Delhi in partnership with the IES Abroad program or Hyderabad in partnership with the AIFS Study Abroad program. The university’s College of Agriculture also has long-standing relationships with partners in India. To date it has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with 16 organizations and schools in India, which have provided or will provide opportunities for student and faculty exchanges, research sharing, and cultural programs.

Sarah Wang is the Event Coordinator and a Project Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington.