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The India connection
The first recorded Englishman ever to arrive in India was from Oxford: Father Thomas Stephens, from New College, arrived there in 1579, sending back letters to his family which laid the foundation of Anglo-Indian literature. In the twenty-first century, with India the second most populous country in the world, the connections with Oxford are still strong.
Oxford University is one of the leading centres in the West for the study of India. It houses the leading collection of Sanskrit manuscripts outside India itself. The Asian Studies Centre, founded at St Antony's College in 1982, brings together specialists in a wide variety of different disciplines for single-theme seminar series, conferences, lectures and other activities. In 2002 Oxford's first Professor of Indian History and Culture was appointed, and in 2008 an MSc in Contemporary India was launched.
‘I want to do everything in my power to dynamise the study of contemporary India,’ says Professor Barbara Harriss-White, whose research interests include India's socially regulated capitalist economy and who was instrumental in setting up the course. 'India is a fascinating country to study: it is the largest democracy in the world, a regional superpower and has had great IT business success on the one hand, but there is political violence, widespread environmental degradation and human development failure on the other.’