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New gift to support students studying India at the University of Washington

June 14, 2021

Bronze W in spring on University of Washington campus

Learning about India just became a little easier for students at the University of Washington, thanks to a recent gift of $100,000 to the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies from longtime UW donors S. Rao and Usha Varanasi. Both are also UW alumni.

The fund, to be known as the S. Rao and Usha Varanasi Endowed Scholarship for Studies of India in the Jackson School, will allow in the coming years greater opportunity for the study of India by students in any discipline, with a focus on support for undergraduates.

S. Rao and Usha Varanasi

S. Rao and Usha Varanasi

“We are fortunate to have grown up in two major democracies, India and the United States, but we feel that the understanding of strengths and similarities between our two beloved countries is often superficial,” said the Varanasis about their purpose of the gift. “Our endowment is an encouragement to students to learn about India from renowned teachers and experts because knowledge deepens empathy.”

Awarding of the scholarship will be done through the South Asia Center, housed at the Jackson School. Students with demonstrated interest in India through coursework, study abroad, language training, honors thesis research or other initiatives will be eligible to apply for the S. Rao and Usha Varanasi Endowed Scholarship for Studies of India in the Jackson School.

“This generous gift to the Jackson School is an immense investment in future generations and is a model for supporting students committed to international education,” said Jackson School Director Leela Fernandes. “In-depth study of specific cultural and national contexts is crucial for students who will be navigating and leading in a world that faces complex global political and economic challenges.”

The history of the University of Washington’s interest in South Asia, its languages, history and peoples, and India in particular, dates back to the origins of the Jackson School in 1909. Today, over 2,000 undergrads enroll each year in area studies and language courses taught by South Asian studies program faculty. Across the UW students can take classes on India’s contemporary politics, culture, development, public health, history, religion, environment, social movements, as well as courses in Hindi, Urdu, Bangla and Sanskrit.

About the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
The Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington is a nationally recognized leader in advancing the understanding of and engagement in world issues. Founded in 1909, it is one of the oldest and largest schools in the country to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in global, regional and area studies. Its location in Seattle, a global hub of commerce, philanthropy and progressive policy, provides a diverse and dynamic environment that helps connect scholarship with what the world needs.