British journalist to open URI colloquium on India

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Sept. 15 lecture to be podcast, streamed live for computer viewing

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 4, 2009 – The author of the bestseller, In Spite of the Gods, the Strange Rise of Modern India, will open the University of Rhode Island Honors Colloquium, Demystifying India.

Edward Luce, who spent four years as New Delhi bureau chief for the London-based Financial Times and is currently the Washington bureau chief, will speak Tuesday, Sept. 15 in Room 271 of the Chafee Social Science Center, 10 Chafee Road, URI Kingston campus. Luce’s lecture, “India and the World,” and the subsequent 12 Honors Colloquium speaking programs and cultural events are free and open to the public.

University of Rhode Island faculty marketing couple, Ruby Roy Dholakia and Nikhilesh Dholakia, and Engineering Professor Arun Shukla, who were born and raised in India, are the colloquium coordinators. The colloquium, “Demystifying India, reflects the coordinators’ goal to throw more light on conventional perceptions about India.

“We have found that many people don’t know much about India, the largest democracy in the world, home to many ancient religions, a new country, but an ancient civilization,” said Ruby Dholakia, professor of marketing in URI’s College of Business Administration. “You cannot be a knowledgeable student or a successful business professional if you are ill informed about other countries, especially ones that have so much influence on the world economy, like India and China.”

The colloquium will explore India’s impact on business, literature, art, apparel, political and social movements and the environment. In addition to the Tuesday evening lectures, the URI campus will host an Indian film festival, a gallery exhibit on Indian textiles and a gallery exhibit on South Asian art. For the first time, the Honors Colloquium will offer the lectures to those who can’t get to the Kingston Campus through live streaming video and podcasts. You can access the podcasts and streaming video as well as the entire schedule by going to the website

“We wanted the inaugural session to provide a more macro perspective on India, to understand India as one nation in an inter-connected global world,” Ruby Dholakia said. “Luce, who has worked as a journalist in several countries, can provide that perspective. His book, of course, is considered a must read among many who know India to be complex on so many dimensions – economic, political, cultural, etc. We feel that he would be able to start us on the path to understanding India in much more detail when subsequent speakers will address specific topics such as India’s colonial past, Gandhi’s contributions, India’s economy, India’s material, cultural or business traditions and practices.”

According to a review in The New York Times, Luce, has written a book that “offers an Imax view of a nation so enormous that embraces every possible contradiction. The blend of anecdote, history and economic analysis makes ‘In Spite of the Gods’ an endlessly fascinating, highly pleasurable way to catch up on a big story.”

A bestseller in India, the book was praised by a review in Business Week, saying “vivid anecdotes make (the book) a pleasure to read.”

Between 1993 and 1994, Luce was the Geneva-based correspondent for The Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom. He then moved to Manila to be the Philippines correspondent for the Financial Times between 1995 and 1997, he was the Financial Times’ capital markets editor, based in London.

Between December 1999 and January 2001, Luce was the speechwriter for Larry Summers, treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

He graduated in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University in 1990 and completed a post-graduate diploma in newspaper journalism from City University in London in 1993.

Major sponsors are: URI Honors Program; Office of the Provost; and the URI colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration and Engineering.

Sponsors: URI College of Human Science and Services, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, Division of University Advancement, Office of the Vice President for Administration, Office of the Vice Provost for Information Technology Services, University College; URI Diversity Week-Multicultural Center, URI Women’s Studies Program, and The Anthony J. Risica Lecture Series on Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Additional sponsors: The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, Kabob N Curry and The Village Inn and Professor G.S. Verma and Mrs. R. Verma.

For further details about the colloquium, including an updated schedule and information on parking, go to or contact the URI Honors Center at 401-874-2381 or As a public health precaution, The University is asking those with influenza-like symptoms on the day of the event not to attend and to watch the streaming live video at