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Somerville College, Oxford, celebrates sustainability partnership with India

Somerville College, Oxford, celebrates sustainability partnership with India

The University of Oxford’s Somerville College Choir and key representatives from the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) are on a three-city tour of India this week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the sustainability partnership.

Besides an outreach initiative, the visit which covers New Delhi, Goa and Mumbai includes an event on artificial intelligence (AI) with Oxford Vice-Chancellor Professor Irene Tracey.

William Dawes, Director of Chapel Music, Somerville College, said: “Following our successful tour in 2018, we are thrilled to be able to return and to celebrate this auspicious year for the college’s historic and ongoing connection to this country.

“We are excited to perform at some of the country’s most prestigious venues such as the NCPA, and it is a particular joy that will be able to share our music and experiences with local children through our collaboration with the British Council and with Magic Bus.”

The OICSD was established in 2013 as a unique Oxford-India partnership and a research centre in the UK devoted to sustainable development in India. It is dedicated to creating “brain grain” for India through a scholarship programme supporting future leaders in law, public policy, environment and health. Since 2013, it has appointed 50 scholars, including the UK’s first fully funded scholarship for Indian students from Dalit, Adivasi, Bahujan and first-time learner backgrounds, named after pioneering educationalist Savitribai Phule.

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Jan Royall, Principal of Somerville College, said: “I am delighted to return again to India to mark ten brilliant years of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development. I am proud of each and every one of our talented Indian scholars. It is my hope that through our journey, and in sharing their work and enjoying beautiful music from our choir, we can continue to forge and strengthen the relationship between India, Somerville, and Oxford.”

The college highlighted its “significant historic links to India” as the college of Cornelia Sorabji – the first woman to practise law in India and the first Indian woman to study at any British university. This year marks 130 years since Sorabji left Oxford and 100 years since she became the second woman in history called to the English bar – making it an auspicious year in which to renew and strengthen the ties between Somerville and India. Somerville’s other Indian alumnae include the world’s first female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi; Uma Das Gupta, biographer of Rabindranath Tagore; Raddhabai Subbarayan, the first woman to sit in the Rayja Sabha; and Bengali actress Moon Moon Sen.

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The India tour, which began last week, is funded through philanthropy from the college’s benefactors and alumni in India and the UK to make it possible for all choir singers to take part, regardless of their financial circumstances.

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