Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Summerhill, Shimla, is housed in what used to be the Vice Regal Lodge - the summer palace of the Viceroy of India. In keeping with its colonial origins, the building is a grand colonial structure, complete with manicured gardens outside, wood panelled walls inside, wall-to-wall carpeting everywhere and a grand staircase which leads to the upper floor where the offices are located.

The Institute is primarily a social sciences institute, set up by the second President of India, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, and has a large number of visiting fellows in disciplines ranging from political science to philosophy who are encouraged to come and use their time there to study and write a book or monograph or treatise. However the present Director is a very charming forward looking person who would like to bring the social sciences and humanities closer to the sciences (remember C. P. Snow's Two Cultures ?) and therefore encourages scientists to organise meetings there. Thus a meeting on Gravity was held last year and we are organising a meeting on Particle Physics Phenomenology during the teeth-chattering cold of December. Our interaction with the Director and staff there was extremely positive and they are keen to provide all the local facilities needed to host a meeting. They prefer if some general talks are given which are understandable by the social sciences Fellows of the institute. With a guest house capacity of about

35, small meetings are easy to arrange.

The place literally oozes history. Thus, one can see the table where the partition papers were signed during the tripartite conference between the Congress, the Muslim League and the British Government. (The table is also in two parts joined together!) An earlier meeting called by Lord Wavell in the same place and attended by Nehru, Patel, Azad, Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan and others had ended in failure, making India's partition a certainty and there is the historic conference room where this and many other meetings among the various delegates of the political establishment took place in pre-independence India.


Venkataraman said...

Very nice. I have added this to my 'must see before I die' list.

Anant said...

OLO: the pictures are so good that one suspects that you have taken them. What are you doing at the IIAS? Yhs

Rahul Basu said...

Anant: The pictures are of course mine - I would not put others' pictures on my blog without due credit! As the post says, we are organising a meeting there and had gone there for organisational matters.

Anant said...

Now I see that you are organizing a meeting in December in teeth-chattering cold! Have a great stay.

Chandrika Shubham said...

Its so beautiful, so calm and so perfect to study. I liked pics as well as discription.