up: SUCO professor's optimism continues in his new book
The Daily Star
September 1, 1998
ONEONTA --On July 10, Ashok Malhotra phoned his mother in India to tell her he had dedicated his latest book to her.
One day later, she died.
And even though Vidya Wati Malhotra didn't understand the significance of having a book dedicated to her, Malhotra said he was just happy he got a chance to speak with her before she died.
This is how Malhotra's mind works, said Douglas Shrader, the chairman of the philosophy department at the State University College at Oneonta and a collaborator with Malhotra on a previous book.
"He just has a positive attitude and a positive outlook on life," Shrader said. "No matter what has happened, he always finds something positive that comes from it."
The book, "Transcreation of the Bhagavad Gita," grew out of Malhotra's 20-year frustration of teaching the Gita to students with translations that were hard for undergraduates to grasp, Malhotra said. His goal was to transcribe the book, which serves as the standard text for Hinduism, in a way the general public could read and appreciate.
Malhotra will be signing copies of the book on Labor Day at the Hunt Union in the coffee house at SUCO from 1-4 p.m.
He is also the author of "Jean Paul Sartre's Existentialism in Literature and Philosophy," "Sartre's Existentialism in 'Nausea' and 'Being and Nothingness,"' and the co-author, with Shrader, of "Pathways to Philosophy," a textbook Malhotra uses in his classes. Malhotra also worked on a book called "Culture and Self," with Douglas Allen.
Besides being a prolific author and a professor of philosophy at SUCO, Malhotra is an active painter and poet.
Classical music floated in the background as Malhotra sat in the foyer of his Oneonta home on Monday, detailing the story of his life that began in India, the child of parents who could not read or write, and how a career in academia led him to love the pursuit of art and literature.
Malhotra said he remembers how his maternal grandfather, Hari Chand Chopra, used to come home from his work as a station master in India and spin tales to his grandchildren. Malhotra said the storytelling is an important part of the culture of India, as most people only learn through the oral tradition because the caste system has prevented some from receiving a higher education.
Malhotra said that every evening, his grandfather would sit in a cane chair and smoke from a hubble-bubble (hookah) pipe, and would recite verses from the Gita or other famous Hindu texts.
"When I was growing up, my grandpa told us over 250 stories," Malhotra said. "He had the idea to have each grandchild receive an education. He pushed us to be successful."
After graduating from the University of Rajasthan in India with bachelor's and master's degrees, Malhotra received a $50,000 scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii to work on his doctorate. The scholarship was given by the East-West Center for cultural interchange, an agency set up by federal government.
"I was so excited to come to America," Malhotra said. "I had never been out of the country before. It was unlucky, that by that time my grandfather had passed on, but I told myself I would fulfill his wishes, which were for one of us to travel the world and write."
While in Hawaii Malhotra said, he followed more of his grandfather's advice, and would talk long walks along the beaches or sit and watch the sun rise or set.
He didn't realize it at the time, but that would pave the way for some of his early paintings, he said.
"When I came to Oneonta, I realized that in the winter there was no color," he said. "So I would draw those sunsets that were either etched in my mind or ones that I had taken pictures of "
Before Malhotra came to Oneonta, though, he spent time at New York University in Greenwich Village.
There, he met his wife, Nina Finestone Malhotra.
"She was a Jewish girl from Manhattan," he said. "We fell in love right away and she proposed to me in seven days. I told her that I had to go back to Hawaii and she agreed to follow me. We had resistance from her parents, but we ending up leading this fairy tale fife."
After finishing up his work on his doctorate degree, Malhotra came to SUCO to start the philosophy program.
"At first I wanted to go back to India and help educate the children," Malhotra said. But Nina convinced me to stay here for a couple of years. So I came to Oneonta and we had our first child, Raj, and then later a second child named Ravi."
Malhotra said his wife was
his best friend and she helped bridge the gap between the culture
United States and culture in India.
Finestone Malhotra worked in the foreign languages department and writing center at SUCO, and then she set up a private practice as a social worker, Malhotra said.
In 1987, Finestone Malhotra was diagnosed with cancer, Malhotra said.
"Originally, the doctors said she had anywhere from six months to a year to live," he said. "But I didn't want her to die and we went with positive thinking, which included meditation, reading self-help survival books, a good diet and yoga."
Finestone Malhotra actually survived about five more years, before dying in December 199 1.
After she died, Malhotra and his sons set up a non-profit organization, the Ninash Foundation, to commemorate their life together.
"She was a very good musician and loved plays and dramas," Malhotra said. "So we set up this foundation to give scholarships to people who want to study drama."
The scholarships are given to two Oneonta High School students, one who shows excellence in music and another in dramatics. The foundation also buys musical instruments for the Center Street Elementary School's music department.
A collaborative effort Malhotra and his wife worked on was SUCO's "Serve in India program." The program started out as a class during the winter break at the school, and students would go to India and learn about the culture while helping Malhotra fulfill his dream of helping people in his homeland. The program has helped set up a school in the rural village of Dundlod.
And as another tribute to his wife, Malhotra is writing a novel based on their relationship, he said. He is also working on two more books.
Shrader, Malhotra's colleague at SUCO, said that despite some of the tragic events in Malhotra's life, his positive thinking is a lesson for all.
"He doesn't have this positive outlook because life hasn't thrown him curveballs," Shrader said. And his outlook is reflected in class.
Dr. Ashok K. Malhotra of the
Philosophy Department was one of the delegates for the Citizen
Ambassador Program this year. Malhotra was selected for two programs.
He visited the Russian Ukraine in May and recently visited The
People's Republic in China in September. Philosophical delegates
from various parts of the world were invited to China, visiting
their universities, sharing information on research, differentiating
on the kinds of books that are used and distinguishing
among the courses that are taught in China and the delegate's country.
The Citizen Ambassador Program was started in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who wanted to strengthen communication among members of the world community. Malhotra said that instead of the traditional style of sending government diplomats to a foreign country and relying on their feedback, the Citizen Ambassador Program offered a way for ordinary citizens of professional fields to explore foreign lands and not be confined to what they can say by the government. During their stay at a certain country, the diplomats would keep a diary on the daily events and upon returning, submit it to the President of the United States. These experiences help policy-makers better understand that particular country and deal with them in the future.
Malhotra went to Russia for three reasons. First, he wanted to find out why the former Soviet Union disintegrated into many countries. Second, he wanted to see if religions had survived during the Soviet years and meet with religious leaders, especially Christian priests, Muslim Mullas (priest), and Jewish rabbis. Malhotra wanted to write articles on the religious aspect and send it to his native country India because India has several ethnic and religious groups. Lastly and most importantly, Malhotra wanted to see if SUNY could set up a program with a university in Russia. He did partly succeed by meeting with university professors in Moscow and discussing about developing a program that would open up communication channels between the two institutions.
For the program to Russia, Malhotra outlined three proposals. First, he wants to set up an exchange between faculties of the SUNY system and Moscow University. Second, some of SUNY's undergraduates would study abroad in Russia and Russian students would study at a SUNY school. Third, 10-15 students of SUNY would study in Russia, but there would be no reciprocation. In the end, 15 hours of semester credits would be awarded to the students. Malhotra also said that the SUNY program would include India, where the SUNY students at Russia would fly to their final destination, India. This is the first and only program ,that goes there and Malhotra has been the Director of the SUNY India Program since 1980. Professor Victor Nemchinon is the section head of the Russian Humanitarian University in Moscow and will assist Malhotra. Malhotra is hoping that by next year he can get this program started, and believes that this program will benefit humanity. "We want to set up these programs to enhance multi-culturalism where different cultures of the world are rivers failing into the ocean of mankind."
Malhotra. also wants to begin a program with The People's Republic of China. After spending two weeks there, he discovered that Chinese philosophy is very different from the Americans. Malhotra said that while the U.S. perceives the world as divided, the Chinese have a clear-cut view that there is China and the West. He also said that at the present time, China is looking for economic cooperation among nations but is not willing to cooperate politically. He added that the Chinese are aware of the crisis in Russia and although freedom is present in Russia, there is it shortage of food and shelter. The Chinese believe that freedom without the things needed to survive is useless.
Malhotra is convinced that setting up this program will enable the two countries to understand each other's cultural philosophy and the political and the econon-dcal levels. He added that Americans are familiar with the hate-campaigns against China and that we must face reality by educating those who are ignorant. He has three propositions for the China program. First, Beijing University and SUNY Oneonta will exchange professors. Second, six to eight undergraduates from O-State will fly to China. (The students will pay a certain amount of money and O-State will utilize it to transport them to Beijing). Then, Beijing University will supply the students with room, board and education. This program would be for six weeks and students would learn the Chinese language, philosophy, culture and art. In exchange, O-State will get four graduate students studying English. They would pay for their expenses arriving here, but once at O-State, the school would provide for them. The third proposal is for 15 SUNY undergraduate students who would be flown to Beijing University during the summer for six weeks, studying from a broad range of subjects, but there would be no type of an exchange. Malhotra is hoping to get this program started in the summer of 1995.
Malhotra said that he has informed Allen Caswell, the Director of International Studies at O-State, of his plan and that Caswell would pursue this with administration officials. Malhotra is also awaiting letters from China and Russia to confirm their interest in this program.
ONEONTA - Cedric Page's career has taken him all over the country. But the opportunity to work at a job that was a perfect match for his main interest in life - service - and the opportunity to get closer to home have brought him to Oneonta.
On Oct. 5, Page took over as director to the Center For Social Responsibility and Community at the State University College of Oneonta.
Before that, the Syracuse native was a geography professor at two Colorado institutions and worked for the state of Washington's Higher Education Coordinating Board.
He saw the director's job at the center as a perfect match to be involved in his passion and be close to his family.
As the center tries to elevate itself to nationally recognized status, Page seems to be a perfect fit, officials at the college said.
With contacts in Colorado and the state of Washington, Page said he hopes to incorporate his duties to the community with an expansion of the center's reach across the country.
"The first week I was here, I talked to a lot of people from places like Seattle and Denver," Page said. "I have colleagues all over the country and I asked if they would be interested in having an intern from the college. This creates another dimension for the center, it creates a national focus and will give our students something challenging to look to.
"A way I would like to put my fingerprint on what the center does is in getting a national reputation," Page said. "I want us to be a broker for utilizing the student-learning and student-driven model. It will be crucial in creating students who have a true value in service."
Tasks like that are what SUCO wanted Page to do when the college brought him here, said Anne Cairns Federlein, the provost and vice president for academic affairs.
"We are most fortunate he joined our community," she said. "He was the kind of person we were looking for."
Page said he has also been in discussions with SUCO faculty members to have them bring service learning projects into their classrooms.
"I am encouraging them to use us as a way of finding placements for their students," Page said.
In the future, Page said, he would like to see the center also try to balance a local and national focus with some international programs.
Page cited Ashok Malhotra's "Learn and Serve in India" as one example of the types of programs with which he hopes the center can collaborate.
"For students to experience something like that in a volunteer capacity, that will enrich their education," Page said.
Page said his goal is to provide students with an understanding of what service to the community means.
"If we can get students to understand the value of service, provide the orientation they need and with work with the academic departments, that is what we are here for," he said.
A State University College at Oneonta philosophy professor said he will work toward attracting new manuscripts on Asian studies and philosophies during his term on the ASHOK MALHOTRA SUNY Press.
Ashok Malhotra already has a manuscript to review, although his three-year post doesn't officially start until July 1, with his first meeting in September.
When Malhotra started teaching more than 20 years ago, he had to turn to India and China for books, but now texts may be more readily available through the SUNY press. "Asian philosophy and Asian studies are becoming more popular in this country," he said.
Malhotra, who joined SUCO in 1967, said he was pleased to be appointed to the 12-member board. He'll be responsible for reviewing up to 15 manuscripts a year on philosophies of Eastern cultures and comparative philosophies.
The State University of New York press operates under the authority of the SUNY chancellor and is administered by the SUNY provost. The press is funded by grant money as a department of the SUNY Research Foundation.
The editorial board has 12 members drawn from SUNY's 64 campuses and appointed by the SUNY Chancellor, upon the recommendation of the provost. Members serve three-year terms, and four new members are appointed annually. They receive no compensation but are reimbursed for expenses to attend meetings.
William D. Eastman, director of SUNY Press, said the trend in scholarly publishing is toward concentrating in certain areas. For the SUNY Press, areas of strength are education, women's studies, Jewish studies, Middle East studies, political science, philosophy and religion. Malhotra's specialties are Indian, Chinese and Japanese and Asian studies.
"He's just the sort of person we need on the board," Eastman said of Malhotra.
Malhotra said he will help attract manuscripts when he attends philosophy conferences, and he'll have to defend proposed books before colleagues at the board after they have been reviewed by editors and other readers. The board and Eastman also will have to agree on publishing a book, he said.
Malhotra said a strength of the press is its willingness to be competitive and publish books by authors worldwide, as shown by it record - 40 percent of the manuscripts by SUNY faculty, and 60 percent from researchers and professors from all over the world.
The press was founded in 1965, and published two books in its first year. By the end of June, the press will have published 119 books. Growth has leveled off, said Eastman.
Malhotra said the press publishes four kinds of books.
The criteria for choosing a book to publish includes three guidelines - significance of topic, usefulness, and quality "brilliant enough to inspire and create a different ways of looking at the universe," Malhotra said. Keeping prices down will be key to the success of the press, he said.
"Find a good, saleable book - that is the goal of the press," he said.
Malhotra originally is from Punjab, a northwestern state in India. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy from the University of Rajasthan and a doctoral degree in philosophy from the University of Hawaii. He has written a book, "Sartre's Existentialism," and numerous articles.
A television series carries words of wisdom from a local college professor.
Ashok K. Malhotra, professor at the State University College at ASHOK K. MALHOTRA Oneonta, is helping Warner Bros. Television turn the philosophical ideas of Tao into everyday English for "Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues. "
A two-hour pilot for the series premiered at the end of January, Malhotra said.
In "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine, uses his training as a Shaolin priest and kung fu master to help his policei detective son Peter Caine, played by Chris Potter, fight crime.
In the father-son relationship, the elder shares "pearls of wisdom" With the younger gener
ation, Malhotra said. Carradine played the lead role in the original "KungFu" series years ago,
Malhotra said Ken Parks, an attorney for Warner Bros. Television, is a SUNY graduate who wanted to find a consultant associated with the New York schools, and the Warner Bros. research department contacted him last summer.
"They want to be sure they're picking up the gist of this philosophy," Malhotra said. "They said, 'Put it in simple English.'
For example, Warner Bros. sent him this phrase: -A brave soldier is not violent. The good fighter doesn't lose his temper. " Malhotra rephrased it to say: "A courageous fighter stays away from violence, and a skillful soldier stays away from anger. "
The producers did a good job weaving the philosophical ideas into the scripts, he said.
But like many television shows ratings count. According to Malhotra, Warner Bros. officials said critics planned the drama, but because viewers "loved it," the show will go on. Malhotra said he will meet with Parks in March to discuss further work.
The philosophical ideas are simplified, Malhotra said, designed to be understood by viewers with an eighth-grade education or more. He is careful to say his role is that of consultant, not scholarly translator.
When students ask Malhotra what philosophy is good for, he replies: "It's good for nothing ... It's good for everything." Studying different philosophies makes an individual a better human being, which is especially important in today's multicultural communities, he said.
"Philosophy will give you a democratic mind," he said. "Philosophy teaches you how to be able to live an effective life, a good life, a meaningful life.
For the "Kung Fu" show, Malhotra said he originally was asked to check translations and find out the origins of about 15 philosophical lines. The lines were from "Tso Te Ching" by Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu.
Malhotra said coincidentally, when Warner Bros. officials called him last July, he had just finished a chapter on Tsoism for a book he and SUCO Professor Douglas Shrader are writing, called "Pathways to Philosophy." In reviewing the lines, Malhotra consulted at least 15 translations of Tso Te Ching, and notes from his own university days.
According to legend, Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu was disheartened at the ways of man, and he wrote his philosophy in 81 verse-like chapters.
Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius, wrote Tso Te Ching in about 600 B.C. While Confucianism is concerned with dayto-day rules of conduct, Taoism is concerned with a more spiritual level of being, according to one translation.
Malhotra said consulting for "Kung Fu" is exciting. He is taking a philosophical approach to this television work.
Lately people have proclaimed that John Glenn is the last American hero.
I am not sure what they mean by that. But I have a few people to nominate for that title of hero.
I nominate Joe. He retired from teaching a few years ago. He has taken on a new career: helping others. He cuts up, splits and hauls firewood to old folks. He rakes and mows on their properties. Whatever they need doing, he will do.
I nominate Harry. His wife suffers from Alzheimer's. While he can, he takes her to lunch. He takes her on trips, to all the places they went when she knew where she was. He is willing to deal with the furrowed brows, the impatience of strangers to whom she babbles. Politely, he talks with her. Though she cannot make sense of what he says. He listens to her. Though he cannot make sense of what she says. He calms her when she lashes out from her befuddlement.
Dutifully, he cooks and launders and cleans for her. Patiently, he guides her inside when she feels like strolling to Chicago. Tenderly, he eases her out of her winter coat in her bedroom in July. He keeps her from harming herself. Much as she did their children when they were babies. A hundred times a day he tries to guide her back onto the tracks. When the sad truth is that there are no tracks for her any more.
I nominate Ashok for herodom. He is a professor who takes his students for semesters in his homeland, India. A few years ago, he organized them and others to build a school for untouchable children in an Indian village. They were wandering the streets, wretchedly poor. They avoided the government school where kids of higher castes humiliated them.
Ashok helped organize his students to physically build the school for the untouchable kids. He inspired them to line up hearing and eye exams for such kids, the first they had known. Today he raises money to pay for teachers for the school. "Imagine!" he tells me. "Only $1,000 will pay for a teacher for an entire year. Think how much good that $1,000 does.'
I nominate friends of ours who work long hours, in their 70s, for nonprofits. They give generously to them. They sit on their boards. They connect them to others who can help. One volunteers for hospice duty with dying patients. They pay for college for neighbor kids and never speak a word of it. They fund people in businesses the banks won't lend to.
I nominate a couple who spend their retirement producing newsletters for organizations that cannot afford to write their own.
I nominate the men and women who volunteer to coach kids in their sports. And the men and women who give of themselves in the Big Brother and Big Sister programs. And my college roomie, who pays his way to Mexico to dig water wells by hand for people in remote villages.
I nominate the people who look after crippled spouses. They sacrifice their own freedom to spare their mates from nursing homes.
I nominate the people who drive friends and strangers to and from their chemo treatments.
I nominate Jimmy Carter and thousands more, for giving of their time to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
I nominate Val. He gave up marriage to look after his ailing mother for years.
You know people like the ones I have described. We are blessed with many. They are heroes or heroines to me because they give, and their giving exacts a price from them. The price is often the time they might have spent pursuing pleasures. Or the money their generosity has denied them or taken from them. The price may be the weariness that comes from looking after others.
The heroes to me are those who shun glory, publicity, credit. They give the time, give the money, give the solace, give the comfort, give the helping hand and expect and ask for nothing in return.
ONEONTA Next time you're in India and missing the comforts of Oneonta, take a trip to the Indo-International School and home might not seem so far away.
A picture of Oneonta hangs in the first room of the school, and don't forget to check out the colorful mural painted by students from the State University College at Oneonta's Learn and Serve in India program.
There's also the sign on the new six-room building that lists the Ninash Foundation of Oneonta as one of the school's supporters, and SUCO philosophy Professor Ashok K. Malhotra said he couldn't be happier.
In January, after three years in a horse stable, the school for underprivileged children moved into a new building following seven months of construction.
"It's a miracle," said Malhotra, who started the Ninash Foundation in memory of his wife, Nina, to finance the school. "We had the right ingredients."
Those ingredients, Malhotra said, were land donated by Prince Raghuvendra Singh and his wife, Princess Ganga Singh, the local royal family; a $25,000 donation from a French businessman; and "the spirit of Oneonta."
Jim Belleau, owner of Acorn Productions, a small film company in Oneonta, traveled to India with Malhotra to document the school's opening.
"The amount of poverty we were surrounded with made you feel like a fat American," Belleau said. "The feeling of giving something back was overwhelming."
Eighteen SUCO students accompanied Malhotra on the trip during the school's December-January intersession and each donated $20 for school supplies. Coupled with $900 from the Ninash Foundation, they bought enough crayons, notebooks, pens, pencils and furniture to last 150 students a full school year.
The school is located in Dundlod, a small town of about 10,000 people that lies in the northern part of India, about 250 miles south of Delhi in the state of Rajasthan.
High poverty and low literacy levels in Dundlod made it a natural choice for the school, Malhotra said.
The building measures about 150 feet by 180 feet and includes three flush toilets something Dundlod residents were unfamiliar with.
"We had to teach them how to use the toilets," he said.
The school's opening garnered a flurry of media attention and Malhotra returned to Oneonta with several requests to build schools on the Indo-International model, he said.
The next step for the school is to add a library that the school and community will be able to use, Malhotra said. Other plans include adding three more classrooms and an administrative office.
ONEONTA ? Ashok K. Malhotra's accomplishments in the field of philosophy and his dedication to improving the lives of impoverished children in India have earned him a "distinguished alumnus" award from his alma mater, the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.
Malhotra, a philosophy professor at the State University College at Oneonta, will receive the award in July at the East-West Center International Conference in Hawaii, an event that will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the center.
Congress established the center in 1960 to foster mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States and the Asia-Pacific region.
Malhotra earned his doctorate from the University of Hawaii in 1969.
"Only people who are very and creative and who have done something very significant and meaningful for humanity, and have tried to cement different people and different nations together get this kind of award," Malhotra said. "I hope people follow my example."
Malhotra does not know who nominated him for the award, he said, adding, "It's really heartwarming."
A recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, Malhotra has taught philosophy at SUCO for more than 30 years. He directs the college's Learn and Serve in India program, through which he has led more than a dozen trips to India.
Center to honor three alumni
Saturday, March 25, 2000
people will receive the 2000 East-West Center Distinguished Alumni Award at the
center's international conference here in July.
recipients are Santiago R. Obien, executive director, Department of Agriculture,
Philippines Rice Research Institute, Philippines; Choko Takayama. deputy mayor
of Naha City, Okinawa; and Ashok Malhotra, professor and chair- man, Department
of Philosophy, State University of New York at Oneonta.
award recognizes significant contributions to the promotion of better relations
and understanding among the people of Asia, the Pacific islands and the United
States, significant career achievements, and continuing support for the center's
served for many years as head of the Philippines Rice Research Institute,
helping the Philippines produce more of its staple food. He also served as
president of Mariano Marcos State University.
served in the Okinawa governor's office. He also led the Okinawa East-West
Center Association chapter when it sponsored the Okinawa Regional Conference in
1993. He holds a permanent role in the "ALOHA Committee," which
promotes exchanges between Okinawa and Hawaii.
was honored for his work in
philosophy both as a teacher and researcher, with his work focused on improving
the lives of poor, uneducated children. He is the author of seven publications
on Indian philosophy and won the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in
teaching. He established the Indo-International School in India, a primary
school for underprivileged children in Rajasthan.
award, which includes $1,000 each in cash, was established by an endowment fund
donated by the late Dai-Ho Chun, director of the center's former Institute of
The international conference in July will draw more than 500 alumni delegates who will be attending the East-West Center's 40th anniversary celebration.
October 25, 2000
By Cindy Budka
Thursday, October 26, Dr. Ashok Malhotra will be giving a presentation about the
Indo-International School and the Learn
and Serve in India program that he helped to create.
Indo-International School was started in 1996 by Malhotra and SUNY students to
help the underprivileged children of India. It was recognized as a 'model of
gift of service to humanity' at the 1999 Parliament of World Religions in Cape
Town, South Africa and has been growing by leaps and bounds. The children,
remnants of the "untouchable" class of India's former caste system, have
who has been a professor of philosophy at Oneonta State College for more than 30
years, has made more than a dozen trips to India since 1979 through the Learn and Serve in India program that he helped to start. He also
created the Ninash Foundation in 1996, in memory of his wife Nina, a former
kindergarten teacher. It is through the Ninash Foundation and the Learn
and Serve in India program that the Indo-International School was created.
and raised in Ferozepur, Punjab, India, Malhotra earned his bachelor's and
master's degrees from the University of Rajasthan in India in 1961 and 1963. He
received his doctorate in western philosophy from the University of Hawaii in
1969, before coming to Oneonta to help start the philosophy department at OSC.
Learn and Serve in India program in
November 1996, Malhotra and a group of OSC students created the Indo-International
School in a one-room schoolhouse in the small village of Dundlod, Rajasthan, in
north-central India. In July of 1997, the school moved to the former stable of a
17th century fort, provided by the royal couple of Dundlod, Raghuvendra and
Ganga Singh. Quickly expanding from just 50 students to more than 160, the need
for a new building arose. The land was provided by the royal couple, and a
French benefactor, who after visiting the school while on a safari, donated
$25,000 to build a new six-room building. With the help of the Ninash Foundation
and other donations, another $30,000 was provided to the school in the form of a
trust fund, so that money would always be available to pay the five teachers.
The new school was completed by Malhotra and the students of the Learn and Serve in India 2000 group, and was inaugurated on January
plans to expand the school, starting in 2001, will include a library, a health
center, and a well for the host town. The elementary school will be expanded to
a full high school, including a vocational center, to provide the women of the
village with a place to come to and get training for better jobs. while at the
same time getting an education.
Ninash Foundation and the Indo-International School hope to build one school a
year in other parts of India. Three other Indian states have expressed interest
in having the new school. After appearing on the ABC World News Now program in March of 2000 to further raise awareness
of the Indo-International School, Malhotra was invited to speak before the Dutch
Parliament in Amsterdam about the school.
will be giving a presentation about the school and plans for the future on
Thursday, October 26 at 7 p.m. in Morris Hall. The presentation will include a
video on the new school, and information about the next Learn and Serve in India program for the inter-session of the 2001-02
school year. Students, faculty, and community members are all invited to join
the Learn and Serve in India program.
For further information, you can contact Dr. Malhotra at 432-0496 or 436-3220,
e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
go the Ninash Foundation Web site at www.ninash.f2s.com.
Cindy Budka is president of the Philosophy Club.
in India takes a step onto the Web
The Daily Star
Wednesday, January 31, 2001
By Matthew Falconer
Malhotra, a State University College at Oneonta philosophy professor who heads
the foundation, traveled earlier this month with SUCO President Alan B. Donovan
and other Oneontans to the Indo-International School for lower-caste children in
the desert village of Dundlod to dedicate a library and send the first e-mail
from the school.
library contains 2,000 books, newspapers and a stereo. The Internet connection
is the first of' its kind in the northern state of Rajasthan, where Dundlod,
population 10,000, is located. Rajasthan has one of the lowest literacy rates in
has led more than a dozen trips to India since he helped found the school in
1996. Local photographer Jim Belleau documented the last three excursions.
said the size and scope of the school has increased each time he has visited.
The list of accomplishments from this trip is long, he said:
vocational center with sewing machines for 50 women was inaugurated.
arranged to buy 45,000 square feet of land near the school so it can expand
to include a high school, park, guesthouse, computer center and art, music
and dance studios.
Mayor Kim Muller and Sudha Sharma, mayor of Dundlod, have issued
proclamations declaring the two towns sister cities. Muller
received the first e-mail sent from the library.
It contained a copy of Sharma's proclamation.
and socks for 160 children, five teachers and 20 workers at the school were
bought and distributed.
Indian government became involved in the project. A member of parliament,
Shish Ram 0hla, promised 100,000 rupees, or about $2,150, to build a road
leading to the school.
India chapter of' the Ninash Foundation was set up in New Delhi, India. The
foundation, created by Malhotra in memory of' his wife, Nina, supports the
school through an endowment.
Ninash Foundation will open an art school for 10 to 15 children under the
leadership of artist Pushpendra Singh. The school will teach children the
art of restoring glass paintings in ancient monuments.
further enhance cooperation between Oneonta and Dundlod, Malhotra met with
the royal couple Raghuvendra and Ganga Singh and planned to adopt a ward
of Dundlod where 537 extremely poor people live.
Ninash Foundation will improve the ward through the supply of food, education
and teaching of personal and social hygiene.
Singhs operate the Kila of Dundlod, a 17th-century fort that now is a hotel.
They have taken on the role of benefactors of the school.
Singhs are descendants of India's royal class. Although India is a
democracy, the caste system still lingers. The school serves children in
the "underprivileged, untouchable" class. Before it arrived, many of
them earned pennies a day picking up cow dung that is mixed with hay and used
they start their day off with exercise, meditation, yoga and a hygiene check and
spend the day learning math, science, English and Hindi.
also are focusing on developing children's self-confidence to help them break
from the oppression of the caste system and better integrate themselves into
the sister-city partnership Malhotra said, he hopes to build relationships
between the children of Dundlod and Oneonta.
said the Ninash Foundation is working with a member of the Dutch Parliament to raise $250,000 to complete the expansion on of
its work in India, the Ninash Foundation also contributes money to Center Street
Elementary School's music program and awards annual scholarships to Oneonta
more information, call 432-0496, or visit www.ninash.f2s.com.
1996, Dr. Ashok Malhotra, 11 students, and two professors from Oneonta State
College traveled to India as part of the "Learn and Serve in India Program".
Growing tired of simply touring India and leaving no mark, Malhotra and
his students decided to undertake a project in the desert village of Dundlod.
caste system in India was outlawed in 1952 when India became a Democracy.
However, as we have seen time and time again throughout our own history, old
habits and traditions die hard. The
same goes for India. The
"untouchables", as they are referred to, are at the bottom of India's
social ladder. Even in 1996 in the
village of Dundlod, the untouchables were shunned by other villagers.
Due to an overwhelming amount of segregation and distancing by the other
people of Dundlod, they were not allowed to attend any schools within their
Malhotra and his students entered this village, they found 50 untouchable
students who not only wanted to go to school, but would have put all they had
into it if given the opportunity. It
was here that Malhotra and his students began their legacy.
woman in the village had donated a building to the cause.
Though rundown and old, Malhotra, his students, and the children of the
village worked feverishly to create a suitable educational environment.
The Indo-International School was born.
schoolhouse was closed and locked after the first year due to jealousy and
social problems in the village. However,
the hopes and dreams of the students were still very much alive.
after the first school was closed, the royal couple of Dundlod donated the
former stable of an old fort in the village.
The students attended classes regularly in these humble surroundings.
Malhotra returned to India, he made a promise to the children.
"I will build you a school", he told them.
with assistant director Linda Drake, Malhotra created the Ninash Foundation.
This Foundation, created in the memory of his wife Nina, was established
to "Promote literacy among children and adults throughout the world".
the charitable donation of $25,000 and a donation of land by the royal family, a
new Indo-International school was built on January 15, 2000.
These donations were enough to build a building with six classrooms and
related facilities. A playground adjacent to the school was built as well.
donation of $2,500 will build a classroom, $500 will pay the annual salary of a
teacher, and $200 will support a child through an entire year of education",
Ninash Foundation, using contributions from all of its supporters, managed to
raise $30,000 to help sustain teachers' salaries indefinitely.
new school building stands as a testament to the fact that people can and do
make a difference", said Malhotra.
Ninash Foundation continued its hard work and on
January 2, 2001, Malhotra, Drake, OSC President Donovan, Achim Koeddermann, Douglas Shrader, and four members of the local community returned to the Indo-International school. Their agenda was to create and open the Vidya Memorial Library, the Tara Vocational Center, and establish the fist Internet connection in the area of Rajasthan.
Ram Ohla, Member of the Parliament of Jhunjhunu, and Donovan sent the first
January 5, the Ninash Foundation was set up in New Delhi.
This branch will serve as the India chapter.
January 11, the Tara Vocational Center was opened for some 50 women of the
Dundlod community. It contained
numerous sewing machines and other essential equipment.
the same day, one of the most important contributions to the school and the
community was made?the Vidya Memorial Library was opened.
Costing only $2000 the library contained some 2,000 books, a stereo set,
newspapers, numerous board games, and more.
The overall goal for the library is to own 10,000 books.
Other highlights included the purchase of shoes and socks for 160
children, 20 workers, and five teachers.
to adopt ward number 16 in the Village of Dundlod are currently underway.
Some 537 individuals from the underprivileged class live in this section.
The idea is to provide food and education for women and children on
matters such as hygiene and nutrition.
the biggest goal of the Ninash Foundation is a plan to extend their school.
The present Indo-International School occupies one Biga of land, which is
slightly less than an acre. The new
plans call for the purchasing of 15 more Bigas.
This new land will provide building space for a new high school, a
computer center, a vocational center, and art, dance, and music studios.
The remaining inside area will be planted with grass, trees, and other
forms of agriculture. The middle of
the courtyard will contain a fountain and a walkway. This atmosphere is intended to provide a better learning
environment for its students.
Ninash Foundation is growing at an astronomical rate. With expansions into New Delhi, and the Netherlands, the goal
for the Ninash Foundation is to raise $250,000 during 2001.
recent earthquake that has decimated India has brought more immediate goals to
the Ninash Foundation. Malhotra has
taken measures to try to raise $10,000 to aid those victims. "Parentless
children, husbandless wives, and others will need help", he said.
this $10,000 Malhotra hopes to be able to purchase 500 tents, shoes, and socks
for 1,000 people, and food, clothes and medicine for a month.
are 5,500 students on this campus. If
each was to give only two dollars, we can make a huge difference."
calls on the help of clubs and organizations affiliated with the OSC campus.
Last year alone the marketing club raised $1,200 in four hours at their
story of the Ninash Foundation is one of magic. From its humble beginnings to its wonderful growth, the
Foundation has accomplished more in five years than many foundations similar to
it ever have.
you are interested in contributing to the Ninash Foundation earthquake relief
fund or Indo-International School, contact Malhotra at 432-0496 or send
donations to the Ninash Foundation, 17 Center Street, Oneonta, NY 13820.
group to aid in relief
The Daily Star
Thursday, February 8, 2001
By Matthew Falconer
- A local non-profit organization with ties to India is accepting donations to
help victims of the devastating earthquake that has injured, killed or destroyed
the homes of nearly 700,000 people.
Ninash Foundation of Oneonta would like to raise $10,000 to help the quake
victims, said Ashok Malhotra, head of the organization.
the present exchange rate of 46.43 rupees to the dollar, U.S. currency has
enormous buying and helping power in India, said Malhotra, a philosophy
professor at the State University College at Oneonta.
said $10 will buy shoes and socks for five people and $100 will purchase five
good-size tents that will temporarily house between five and 10 people.
goal is to buy 500 tents," Malhotra said.
than 600,000 people were left homeless, 66,768 were injured and more than 17,000
have been killed since the 7.7 magnitude quake struck 13 days ago. The death
toll is expected to rise to 30,000 when all the rubble is cleared.
is asking student groups and the
local community to contribute as much
as they can. He plans to wire donations to India, where the Ninash Foundation
has two offices, one in the northern village of Dundlod and one in Delhi.
foundation funds a school for poor children in Dundlod. In January, the mayors
of Dundlod and Oneonta signed declarations making the two sister cities.
Foundation's Dundlod office has already sent 600 rupees to a soup kitchen in the
quake zone, Malhotra said, but more is needed.
may be sent to the Ninash Foundation, 17 Center St., Oneonta, N.Y., 13820.
box is also set up inside Principally Prints, located in the Oneonta Theater
building at 49 Chestnut St., where people may drop off donations during normal
business hours, said Jim Belleau, the shop's owner.
donations still sought
The Daily Star
Tuesday, March 20, 2001
- The Ninash Foundation of Oneonta is still accepting donations to help victims
of the January earthquake in India that has left 600,000 people homeless.
Malhotra, founder of the organization, said people have donated about $2,760 so
far. He plans to travel to India on April 5 and would like to bring $5,000 with
him to rebuild houses in the village of Bhuj. A brick and mortar home that will
comfortably house four people can be built for $1,000, Malhotra said.
a professor at the State University College at Oneonta, also said he is
exploring the possibility of building an elementary school in the village based
on the Indo-International School he helped create in another part of India.
Donations may be sent to The Ninash Foundation, 17 Center Street Oneonta, N.Y.
the Easter break (April 6-16, 2001), Professor Ashok Malhotra went to India
where he visited six villages affected by the earthquake. The earthquake that
hit Gujrat on January 26, 2001, has left more than 600,000 homeless. Though the
initial support of various national and international agencies has provided
temporary shelter to the people, nothing has been done so far to build permanent
houses for 600,000 victims of the quake.
The Ninash Foundation of Oneonta, Malhotra adopted the village of Kuran in
Gujrat. Since this village of 1200 people was completely wiped out during the
earthquake, it needs to be rebuilt before the arrival of monsoon. During
February-March, through the generous donations from the Oneonta community,
Malhotra was able to raise $5000, which is being used to rebuild ten houses in
Kuran. Furthermore, since the elementary school building was also destroyed by
the earthquake, 150 children of Kuran were left without a school. Through The
Ninash Foundation, Malhotra provided financial support to build a six-room
building for the Indo-International Elementary School for the children of the
village. The new ten houses and the building for the elementary school will be
completed by the end of May 2001 and inaugurated by the President of India.
Jaipur, The Ninash Foundation is providing assistance to Mr. Pushpendra Singh,
an artist and cultural guide, who will be setting up the Indo-International Art
Restoration School by the end of this year. This school will help train children
and adults in the art of restoring glass paintings in ancient castles and
monuments. Mr. Singh is obtaining a piece of land for the school.
Money will be raised through The Ninash Foundation to support this unique
project that combines cultural presentation with artistic training.
spent two days in Dundlod, Rajasthan, where the participants of the SUNY
"Learn and Serve in India 2000" Study Abroad Program helped build the
first Indo-International School building. This year, besides opening a new
library, three more rooms were added to complete the present complex. The
new rooms will house a computer center, a vocational center and a classroom for
the second grade children.
this 12 day-trip, Malhotra was accompanied by Karen Huxtable and Keith Hunt from
NBC News, Utica (Channel 2). The NBC team taped the entire trip and will
broadcast it in ten. segments followed by a 30-minute long documentary. The
schedule of broadcasts is as follows
PM News: Channel
April 30, May 1-4, and 7-11 (10 segments)
30-minute long documentary: May 10, 5:30 PM
and photos from the broadcasts are also available on the web (under "local
news"): www.wktv.com. Malhotra
hopes to raise $40,000 to help build another 80 houses in Kuran. Hopefully, this
publicity will help raise the above amount through generous donations.
Donations to build houses for the earthquake victims can be mailed to: The Ninash Foundation, 17 Center Street, Oneonta, New York 13820. Telephone: 1-888-432-2676.
faculty earn awards
The Daily Star
Monday, May 7, 2001
ONEONTA?Six faculty members at the State University College at Oneonta have been named recipients of awards from the State University. They include:
Education Professor June Edwards, Communication Arts Professor Arthur Dauria and Associate Professor of Art Nancy Callahan received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Librarian Elaine Downing received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Librarianship.
Carol Blazina, assistant to the president, was named a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service.
Malhotra has taught Philosophy at SUCO since 1967. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Rajasthan in Indian and his doctorate at the University of Hawaii. A 1994 recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, he developed the College's study-abroad programs in India, and he has lead groups there 13 times.
He was a driving force behind the founding of the Indo-International School on the 1996 trip and he is raising funds for the construction of new schools and relief of earthquake victims in India.
He has published five books and is the recipient of the 2000 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the East-West Center, a national educational institution dedicated to promoting improved relationships among the people of Asia, the Pacific and the United States.
Edwards has taught at the college since 1992. She holds master's and doctoral degrees from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She was the recipient of the college's 2000 Susan Sutton Smith Prize for Academic Excellence.
Dauria, who is chair of the Communication Arts Department, has taught at the college since 1975. He holds a bachelor's degree in social science education and a master's and doctorate in speech communication, all from Penn State University.
Callahan joined the SUCO faculty in 1989. Her areas of specialization include silkscreen printing, watercolors, artists' books, drawing, design, and photography. She holds a bachelor's degree in studio art from SUCO and a master's of fine arts from Syracuse University.
Downing, assistant director for Bibliographic Services at the James M. Milne Library, has worked at SUCO since 1970. She holds a bachelor's degree from the State University College at Buffalo and a master's in library science from the State University College at Geneseo.
Blazina is assistant to the president and professor of physical education at SUCO, where she has worked since 1966. She serves as college spokesperson and has responsibility for coordinating the college's public relations and governmental relations efforts.
Author of "Ballroom Dance: A Step in the Right Direction", she has taught a range of dance courses at the college. She served for 18 years as the college's director of women's athletics and was coach of women's tennis and volleyball.
More than 30 other SUCO
faculty have been honored with the Chancellor's Award since the program began
in 1970. Malhotra is the college's 10th Distinguished
Teaching Professor, and Blazina is the third staff member to receive the
Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service.