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Jan. 30, 2002
OSWEGO -- A Fulbright Scholar from India who is an expert in the teachings and influences of Mahatma Gandhi is spending the spring semester teaching in SUNY Oswego's history department.
Ranjit K. Roy is a professor and head of the department of history of Rabindra Bharati University in Calcutta, where he is also joint director for the Centre for Gandhian Studies.
During his four-month visit to Oswego, he will teach two courses -- History 482: "Gandhi and Nonviolent Strategies of Change" and History 387: "Indian Culture and History."
The Fulbright Scholar program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provides opportunities for American lecturers to study abroad as well as for international instructors to teach in the United States.
Roy brings his experience to Oswego in large part because of Distinguished Teaching Professor of History Geraldine Forbes, who chairs Oswego's history department. "We have been friends for a very long time," Roy said of Forbes. "Our interests are very well matched, especially involving the plight of women in India."
The two scholars are currently editing Gandhi's letters to Saraladevi Choudhurani, a leader of India's movement for women's rights.
Roy's other works in progress include "The Other View: Global Perceptions of Gandhi." "I took up the project of trying to get together scholars from various countries, other than India, to see the extent Gandhi has been an influence," Roy said. "It also allowed me to work with top scholars to explore the impact Gandhi had while alive and his influence in the post-Gandhi era."
Gandhi's message of nonviolent change has attained more influence abroad than in India, Roy said. "It seems to have the least importance in his own country," Roy said. "All political bodies in India try to use him for their own movements, but they forget about him after the election is over."
Roy's interest in Gandhi and nonviolent change well predates his co-founding, through support from the University Grants Commission in India, the Centre for Gandhian Studies at Rabindra Bharati University in 1999. The professor's previous work included his 1992 doctoral thesis at the University of Calcutta, "Bengal's Response to Civil Disobedience: A Study in the Forms of Protest Among Women and Students, 1930-1934."
"I came here, in large part, to teach about nonviolence," Roy said. There are plans for him to work with the college's Peace Institute and international and global studies program, as well as similar programs with other colleges in the region.
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