UC Santa Cruz Celebrates the Inauguration of the Academic Chair in Sikh Studies

Professor Nirvikar Singh, the chair of Sikh and Punjabi studies at UC Santa Cruz, Mr and Mrs. Aurora with UC Santa Cruz chancellor George Blumenthal.

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On March 18th 2011, UC Santa Cruz celebrated the appointment of Professor Nirvikar Singh to the newly inaugurated Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies.

The chair–established through the Sikh Foundation by Hardit and Harbhajan K. Singh in memory of their son, Sarbjit Singh Aurora–supports research and teaching in Sikh and Punjabi studies from a multicultural and global perspective.

Professor Nirvikar Singh discussed the future of Sikh Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

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The Interim Dean of Humanities, William A. Ladusaw hosted the evening of the dinner celebration which was held at 7:30pm at the UC Santa Cruz Campus University Center. At this occasion, the daughter of late Sarbjit Singh Aurora spoke about the importance of Sikhism in academia. 

Kavaljeet, the 12-year-old daughter of late Sarbjit Singh Aurora poignantly recalled the memory of her father and said “I am glad that this endowed chair has been set up by my grandparents in memory of my dad so that students at The University of Santa Cruz will be able to learn about Sikhs, Sikh history and our culture.”

Sardar Hardit Singh Aurora- father of Late Sarbjit Singh Aurora.

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Sarabjit Aurora’s father Mr. Hardit Singh Aurora said, “We initiated this endeavor about ten years ago and are very glad that it has finally culminated at a fine institution such as The University of Santa Cruz. My son was a successful entrepreneur and a dedicated Sikh who was always eager to assist any child needing help in explaining about Sikhism in their respective schools.”

Hardit and his wife Harbhajan K. Singh made a gift of $367,000, through the Sikh Foundation, to fund this chair in Sikh and Punjabi studies at UC Santa Cruz.

Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, the chairman of the Sikh Foundation spoke about the role of Sikh Foundation is Sikh studies in the US. One of the points Kapany highlighted was that all four Sikh chairs have been designed to focus on different areas of Sikh Studies: UCSB on history & religion, UC riverside on Music and religion, Cal State East Bay on diasporic studies and now UC Santa Cruz on Economics.

Arvinder Kaur Aurora who is a successful entrepreneur and manages the business of her father Sardar Hardit Singh Aurora with Dr Narinder Singh Kapany, chairman of the Sikh Foundation.

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The Sikh Foundation established the Sikh Studies chair at UC Santa Barbara in 1998 and has also funded chairs in Sikh and Punjabi studies at UC Riverside and CSU East Bay. He also mentioned the proposals in the pipeline for UC Merced, and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. 

In 2007, at the time of the inception of this chair, Georges Van Den Abbeele, UCSC dean of humanities said “The gift will solidify UC Santa Cruz’s strength in South Asian Studies by creating an endowed chair that focuses on the world’s fifth largest religion, its history, and the history of the Punjabi area from which the Sikh religion arose.”

Professor George Blumenthal- Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz.

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The chair at UCSC supports research and teaching in Sikh and Punjabi studies from a multicultural and global perspective. Professor Nirvikar Singh will be the first scholar to hold the Sikh and Punjabi Studies chair at UC Santa Cruz. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and his BSc. and MSc. from the London School of Economics, where he was awarded the Allyn Young Prize, Gonner Prize and Ely Devons Prize.

His research includes work on healthcare systems in Punjab, the Punjab economy, and comparison of past conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir, Sikh literature as an agent of social change in the early 20th century, and analysis of the fundamental doctrines of Sikhism in historical context. Singh is also one of the leading scholars on India’s political economy, and has researched on topics such as federalism, governance, and macroeconomic policies.

Singh’s current research topics include entrepreneurship, information technology and development, electronic commerce, business strategy, political economy, federalism, economic growth and the Indian economy. He has authored over 100 research papers and co-authored three books: Joint Ventures, International Investment and Technology Transfer; The Political Economy of Federalism in India; and Waiting to Connect: India IT Revolution Bypasses the Domestic Industry. He has also served as an advisor for several startups and knowledge services firms in Silicon Valley and in India. Professor Singh teaches Economics courses at UC Santa Cruz.

Photos by Humanities, UC Santa Cruz.



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