Recognition of Degrees Awarded by the South Asian University

The South Asian University (SAU) was established jointly by the eight SAARC Member States (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indian, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). An agreement for the establishment of SAU was signed on 4th April 2007 by the Ministers of External Affairs of all Members States. This agreement can be viewed here.

Article 7 of this Agreement specifically states the following:

This Agreement shall facilitate the mutual recognition of degrees and certificates awarded by the University in all SAARC Member States at par with the degrees and certificates issued by their respective national universities/institutions.

Besides the above overarching Article 7 of the Agreement, each individual Member State has also conveyed their recognition of SAU degrees.

The letter from the UGC of India conveying recognition of SAU's degrees can be seen here.

It should, however, be noted that no country recognizes degrees awarded by individual universities in another country. If the degrees of a given university are recognized by the UGC (or the equivalent bodies like HEC) of the country where the university is located, the degrees are also recognized by universities around the Globe. SAU is located in India and Indian UGC recognizes the degrees awarded by the SAU.


Building a community of South Asian Scholars with Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere at South Asian University

Prof. Gananath Obeyeseekere at the podium, with chair Prof. Patricia Uberoi (University of Delhi), Prof. Sasanka Perera (Dean, South Asian University), and Prof. G K Chaddha, President, South Asian University): by Sreedeep

Faculty of Social Sciences, at South Asian University, initiated the annual program ‘Contribution to Contemporary Knowledge Series’ to execute the vision of synergetic regional scholarship. This program envisages bringing eminent scholars of the region who have made it to the international repute and have earned worldwide acceptance of their scholarship. First in the series was a public lecture by Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere, former Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Princeton University and currently based in Sri Lanka, on 31 Janaury at Teenmurty Auditorium. The enormous scholarship of Prof. Obeyesekere encapsulates the themes from mythology, history, culture and religion in the framework of South Asia with specific focus on Sri Lanka and its historical intersections with India. The stature of Prof. Obeyesekere evokes reverence and awe in the domain of scholars of the region. The lecture had in attendance scholars such as historian Professor Romila Thapar, amongst other noted socials scientists from the leading varsities of India. The title of the lecture was ‘Coming of Brahmin in Sri Lanka: Sudra fate of the Brahmin Elite’, which explored the shared history and mythology of India and Sri Lanka. Prof. Obeyesekere noted the evolution of Sinhala Buddhism with reference to ancient texts and showed that Sinhala Buddhism has posterity of fusion of religious and cultural motifs. It emerged from the lecture that the contemporary version of Sinhala Buddhism, which has been bane of Sinhala society and politics, is not what all Sinhala boasted of; it was rather a consequence of syncretism and tolerant acceptance of elements from Tamil Brahmins who came to Sri Lanka in distant past. An exclusivist Sinhala Buddhism is only a political invention to suit the agenda of identity politics and propaganda of politically questionable Buddhist country.

As the second leg of the program Faculty of Social Science conducted a unique interactive workshop on 1st February at Akbar Bhawan Campus of South Asian University in Chanakyapuri, Delhi. The workshop deliberated on the possibilities of doing ethnographic studies in the context of contemporary South Asia with its multiple crises and complexities. It emerged that ethnographic monographs can offer a mechanism to overcome the identity politics rife in South Asia. Prof. Obeyesekere made it clear that scientific arrogance is not a virtue in truly ethnographic practice. The social dogmatism too cannot rule an ethnographer. For, an ethnographer is ever aware of his/her ignorance and hence there is need to conjecture and analyze endlessly. No knowledge in ethnographic enterprise can ever be absolute. More importantly, the ethnographic knowledge production entails intellectually fruitful fantasies. Without those fantasies anthropologists’ methods and techniques become dominant and canons begin to rein the minds of ethnographers. No wonder that social scientists from the region of south Asia suffer from poverty of imagination as they are consumed by canonical notions of doing research and they sacrifice on intellectually necessary fantasies. Another aspect of the decline in the knowledge production is that market forces, international funding agencies and state have become instrumental in researches. It leaves no room for the ethnographers to go beyond the easily available empirical details. Hence what emerges in the forms of books is nothing but slightly tweaked versions of reports. These reports are, apparently, suitable for policy framing and planning. But they do not yield the necessary insights into the complexity of social, cultural and political. Hence, most of our researches, in anthropology as well as sociology, are feeding into the identity politics, by offering illegitimately simplified understanding. For, social reality encapsulates cobweb of complex meanings, such as the phenomena at Kataragama as mentioned in his celebrated book titled Medusa’s Hair. Unless that cobweb of meanings is unraveled in coherent, cogent, rational fashion, there is no knowledge of society; it is only knowledge by researchers, for themselves, of themselves. To make knowledge all pervasive, it is instrumental to bring in intuition and fantasies, going beyond the Cartesian claims of scientific rationality, and capture the complex lives of the people. If we do so as anthropologist, there is little room to play with politically correct categories, which have been bedrock of both modern social scientific dogmas and identity politics. Responding to questions and observations by teachers and students, at South Asian University, Prof. Obeyesekere made it clear that South Asian scholars have to continue with the efforts to break the politics of anthropology, which has defined scholarship at international scale. Reflecting upon his own intellectual dispute with Sociologist Marshal Sahlins, he indicated that there ought to be multiple disputes of this kind in every epoch of history. Instead of talking endlessly about the post-coloniality, and intellectually seeking for the voice of the subaltern in the complex texts, there is need of south Asian scholars to produce viable anti-theses to the theses of western masters. This is not to debunk the west; this is rather to offer perspectives, which have been located in faraway places such as Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries of South Asia.

It became evident that Prof. Obeyesekere is one of the most sought after social anthropologist in India on both days. The teeming number of young and aged scholars who made to the event and engaged with him was a vindication of his scholarly persona. The Contribution to Contemporary Lecture Series will continue to generate new insights in the knowledge production and transaction at this two-year-old university, which was started by SAARC in 2010.

SAU Logo Rationale

The logo of South Asian University represents the eight nations of SAARC. The basic form of the logo is octagonal, each side representing a country. The octagon, when used in the perspective of design turns into the numerical "8" that also represents infinity (∞ ) in a purely visual sense. The numerical"8" or the infinity symbol is then overlaid upon itself to present an evolving motif form that is present in varying contexts and interpretations in all of South Asia.

Ph. D. Programs in South Asian University gets final nod

New Delhi: South Asian University will start Ph.D. Programs in various subjects from the coming academic year. The announcement was made after the final approval by the Governing Board, the highest administrative body of this international university.

Making the announcement Prof. GK Chadha, the President of SAU said that the university was envisaged as a center of excellence with primary focus on research and post graduate programs and hence the decision to start the Ph.D. programs was very much in line with the university’s vision. But for the space constraint that the university has been facing, the research programs would have been introduced earlier, he said.

South Asian University was established by the governments of the eight SAARC nations in 2010. The university is functioning from Akbar Bhawan in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The government of India has allotted a 100 acre campus in Maidan Garhi, adjacent to Indira Gandhi National Open University. The construction of the campus is expected to start early next year with the total capital cost being borne by the Indian government.

The research scholars would be inducted into the Ph.D. programs through an entrance test followed by a personal interview. All the candidates of the research programs would be eligible to apply for the on-going SAARC Silver Jubilee Scholarship, instituted by the Indian Government especially for SAU students. The maximum scholarship for research scholars carries full fee waiver, free stay in the hostel, a monthly allowance of INR 12,000 and a fixed start-up amount. There are 25 scholarships earmarked for Ph.D. students.

Introduction of the research program was one of the decisions taken by the Governing Board in its 3rd meeting in New Delhi. Prof. Azad Chaudhury, the chairman of UGC, Bangladesh – who chaired the GB meeting described the establishment of SAU as a dream to meet the challenges of the region and restore its glory. He also thanked the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh and other Member States who took initiative in the establishment of SAU. He also expressed his appreciation for the progress the university has made so far, despite many daunting challenges.

The Board has also cleared the case for the Introduction to South Asia, a compulsory course for each student of SAU irrespective of the academic program being pursued. This non-credit course will make its debut in the semester that is starting in January next year.

Prof. Mohammad Osman Babury, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, speaking at the meeting as the outgoing Chairperson expressed his confidence and satisfaction on the progress being made by the university and looked forward to the day when SAU will be one of the most reputed universities in the South Asian Region.

The Board during its day long deliberations took a number of important administrative, financial and academic decisions on the functioning of the university. The Board also set in motion deliberations on the second phase of the university as the first phase of five years will come to an end in 2014.

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