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OCHS Wins Oxford Recognition

Saturday, 29 July 2006 / Published in News / 3,512 views

**July 2006**

OCHS Wins Oxford Recognition < #i1>
Board of Governor’s Dinner: Who Speaks for Hinduism? < #i2>

OCHS Wins Oxford Recognition Oxford University has recently given its official seal of approval to OCHS by awarding it with the newly created status of “Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University” – a self governing academic institution that works in harmony with the University to enrich its field of study.

OCHS is one of the youngest institutions to receive this stamp of approval from Oxford. It is a formal endorsement of the relationship that the two institutions have developed since the Centre’s establishment in 1997. This development reflects the need for objective perspectives on the major religions in the UK and recognises OCHS’s role in providing this.

The Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes, said, “The new official association provides a platform for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Oxford University to move forward together in teaching, research and publishing. It will also help students and researchers gain further access to the wonderful Indian resources held in Oxford.”

OCHS now provides most of Oxford’s teaching on Hinduism, giving students access to some of the world’s best scholars in the field.

Its collaborative relationship with the University is demonstrated by the fact that the OCHS Academic Director sits on the Theology and Oriental Studies Faculty committees, and in turn the Centre opens its doors to representatives from those faculties. The exchange benefits students and researchers alike, increasing our capacity to have an impact on the global community of scholars in the field of Hindu Studies and beyond.

Dr Gavin Flood, Academic Director of the Centre, spoke of the significance of the new designation: “With the new Recognised Independent Centre status, for the first time the words ‘of Oxford University’ have become part of OCHS’s title. This is a phrase that we will feature proudly in all of our literature, in the media, in our fund-raising and all of our work with the public. It is an official recognition by Oxford University that we are its principal provider in the field of Hindu Studies, and a thus a duly constituted member of the University’s community.”

The new development is a response to the increasing range of research centres and independent academic institutions that are arising to advance their respective fields through independent programmes of research. The growing number of partnerships between independent centres and higher education institutions is helping to inject new resources and perspectives into the academic world. This comes at a time when funding commitments to higher education are a national and international concern.

The Indian High Commissioner, HE Kamlesh Sharma said, “The rising profile of India and the remarkable success of the worldwide community of Indian origin has increased interest in the foundations of India’s culture and traditions. The affiliation with Oxford advances the work of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in providing serious academic focus on Hindu culture and its depth of wisdom and creativity through teaching, research, and publishing for a wide audience. It is a significant gain for Oxford University.”

The OCHS now looks forward to building on this platform of recognition by continuing to expand its activities and sustain its standards of excellence.

Board of Governor’s Dinner: Who Speaks for Hinduism? The University’s recognition of the OCHS was particularly well-timed for this year’s Board of Governor’s Dinner, held at the Oxford Town Hall. The announcement of the recognition was met with a sustained standing ovation from the guests.

The Dinner, generously sponsored by Lalji Vekaria of the Stanton Group, was also an opportunity to welcome back one of the Centre’s brightest and best scholars, Dr Ravi Gupta, now lecturer of South Indian Studies at Centre University in the US.

Dr Gupta gave the keynote address on the topic: “Who Speaks for Hinduism?”

Reflecting on his experience as a Hindu teaching Hinduism, he spoke on the problem facing those who wish to study Hinduism or engage in dialogue with Hinduism. Who represents Hinduism? Is it those who come from Hindu backgrounds, even if they know little of the history and diversity of their tradition? Or is it scholars of Hinduism, who may not practice the tradition but have spent their lives studying it? Scholars and practitioners are asking themselves this question – who speaks for Hinduism? He spoke of the need for a dialogue between these perspectives as a prerequisite to understanding the tradition in its fullness.

The full text of Dr Gupta’s talk can be read or listened to at http://www.ochs.org.uk/bg2006

Guests at the Board of Governor’s Dinner included, the Indian High Commissioner His Excellency Kamlesh Sharma, Dr Peter Oppenheimer, President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew & Jewish Studies and Dr David Browning, Registrar of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

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