A full year of pandemic restrictions in education has been hard but I must congratulate our scholars and students for their focus and adaptability. All have done very well, mastering the mysteries of all things Hindu, and what were once the mysteries of Teams, Canvas, and Zoom. Our students have also done well academically – which is the great achievement.
I’m very happy to announce that we will start the next academic year with a new relationship with the Faculty of Theology & Religion and the University of Oxford. Beginning in October, two of our scholars, Dr Jessica Frazier and Dr Rembert Lutjeharms, will become Research Lecturers in the Faculty, positions funded by the OCHS. Both will share their time with the University and the Centre. It represents the strongest institutional tie that both our Centre and the Faculty will have with any other external body.
In spite of the difficulties of the year, education and publication went very well, as this report notes. Research also progressed, the only areas of our operation hindered being Library access and coming together for meals and discussion. Even with all the promise of technology there is nothing to replace the wealth of personal interaction.
As an unexpected benefit of shutdown around the world, we had an understandable rise in student numbers for our online courses – 2300 in total. While so many of us were bound to our homes in the pandemic we roamed the universe of the internet looking for education, news, and distraction. Our online experts adapted quickly and launched very successful virtual weekend schools and Zoom tutorials, making our subject widely available.
I would like to thank our scholars, students, and staff who rose to the occasion; to our patrons and friends who retained their commitment and maintained our efforts; and to the army of volunteers who have worked in Leicester, Birmingham, and London, and far afield in New York, Denver, and Gainesville, USA, and Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, India. We are your servants.
Shaunaka Rishi Das