Thursday, January 28, 2010

ISCSC Member Builds Schools in India; Receives Award

The University of Hawaii has announced its 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards. One of the recipients is Ashok Kumar Malhotra, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at State University of New York at Oneonta, and longtime ISCSC member. According to the news release:

"ONOLULU--The University of Hawai'i Alumni Association (UHAA) has named four honorees to receive its 2010 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Established in 1987, the award recognizes outstanding alumni who have used their UH education to excel professionally, provide inspirational leadership to others, and provide service for the benefit of the community. A dinner will be held to honor this year's recipients on Tues., May 11, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. To reserve seats for the event, visit

UH Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees:

"ASHOK KUMAR MALHOTRA received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Rajasthan in India before coming to the East-West Center in 1963, and earning his Ph.D. in philosophy from UH Manoa in 1969. He began teaching at the State University of New York at Oneonta, where he is a founding member of its philosophy department and currently serves as distinguished teaching professor of philosophy. In 1979, he established the SUNY Oneonta "Learn-and-Serve" study abroad program in India. Since then, he has led 17 groups with more than 200 students, faculty and community members on humanitarian missions that include feeding the poor, working with Mother Teresa, assisting in medical clinics, and more recently, building three elementary and two high schools for more than 1,050 impoverished children in the remote villages of India. Much of the funding for these five schools comes from Malhotra's Ninash Foundation, a 501 c (3) charitable organization established in 1996 in honor of his late wife, Nina, to promote literacy among children and adults throughout the world. He was active on the SUNY Press Editorial Board, was a member of the National Endowment for the Humanities board, and has 12 books and numerous other publications to his credit. He has also endowed four annual "Seva" (a Sanskrit word meaning "compassionate service") Awards at UH and SUNY Oneonta. The International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations honored Malhotra for his efforts to spread literacy in India by nominating him for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize."

Ashok has been building schools in India through the Ninash Foundation. He recently returned from a trip to India, which he describes below:

"The Ninash Foundation Team of ten people celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Oneonta sister city project in India from December 27, 2009 to January 17, 2010...From December 28, 2009 to January 8, 2010, the Ninash Team visited the five Indo-International schools and was involved in a number of celebrative activities.

"On December 30, the Ninash group visited the Indo-International Culture Preservation School, Mahapura, Jaipur. Here Drs. John Koller and Mimi Forman could see with their own eyes the difference their financial contributions have made towards building the state of the art computer-library with six computers and two thousand books as well as an artisan wing in the school that will provide vocational instructions to children towards creating and restoring stained
glass windows, a dying art in India. This library and the artisan wing will be accessible to the children, faculty and members of the community.

"From December 31, 2009 to January 4, 2010, the celebrative events at the Oneonta Sister City Indo-International School in Dundlod involved the opening of the up-to-date Christy Koller Memorial Library-Computer Center with seven thousand books, computers, DVD and CD players, over head projector, email and educational games.

"The Dundlod Indo-International School that started with 50 impoverished children in 1996 has grown from an elementary to a high with 550 children. It is Ninash’s star school because it has
proudly sent 10 underprivileged children to college during 2009. The school celebrated its 14th anniversary with the performances by the children in Rajasthani, Hindi and English to entertain the foreign and local guests. It was an impressive heart-winning performance by the children.

"Moreover, thanks to the efforts of Linda Drake and generous contributions of the Oneonta and Cooperstown communities, 28 dairy goats were given away to the poorest of poor villagers of Dundlod so that they would have milk and cheese to feed their families. During the past four years, local donors have graciously contributed a total of 103 goats to the village of Dundlod. Furthermore, the Ninash Team gave away a harmonium to a blind musician of Dundlod in recognition of his contributions to providing entertainment to the SUNY groups since 1996.

"The Indo-International School in Kuran, situated in a remote area of Gujarat, which was devastated by the 2001 earthquake, was opened by the Ninash Foundation with 205 children in 2001, now has grown to 235 in 2010. From January 6-8, 2010, Dr. Malhotra and Ms. Drake
participated in a number of celebrative events: they performed the ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate a new High School to be built during the next year; moreover, they opened a state-of-the-art Library-Computer Center with six computers, internet along with one thousand books, news papers and educational games. The Mayor of Kuran, called the Sarpanch, celebrated by sending the first email to Drs. John Koller and Mimi Forman for their financial contributions
towards the opening of the new library in memory of their daughter Christy Koller. The importance of this event lays in the fact that this remote village in Gujarat, which was completely devastated during the 2001 earthquake, has come out of isolation now by having an internet access to every part of the globe. A momentous accomplishment for the villagers and the world!

"Other events at the Indo-International School in Kuran included the opening and switching on of the Water Filtration Plant to supply clean drinking water to the school children and the opening of a Children Center to provide after school activities. The children embellished the celebration by entertaining the guests through performances in the three languages of Gujarati, Hindi and English.

"Another highlight of the trip was an invitation from Narendrakumar, a student completing MA in Social Work from Anand University in India. He had followed the model of the Ninash Foundation by starting his own Way-Made Charity from his own personal savings. Through this charity, he built a nursery school for the 64 tribal children of Sagbara, a small town near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Dr. Malhotra was invited to be the chief guest at the
opening of the new school in this tribal area where the children gave a touching performance for two hours.

"The Ninash Foundation, a 501C (3) charitable organization, was established in 1996 to spread literacy among the impoverished children and adults throughout the world. The foundation has built five schools in the isolated villages of India that are providing education to more than 1050 underprivileged children. In order to provide free education to these impoverished children,
the Ninash Foundation needs to raise at least $30,000 in donations each year to keep the schools running. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $250,000 to set up a trust fund, the interest from which will be used to fund these schools.

Please mail your donations to: The Ninash Foundation, 17 Center Street, Oneonta, NY 13820, USA or visit the Ninash website."

In recognition of this work, Ashok has been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

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