Birmingham: Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri has inaugurated a new Guru Nanak Chair, supported by the Indian government, at the University of Birmingham to enable research around the teachings of the founder of the Sikh religion.
The minister announced the new Chair to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, during a visit to Birmingham where delivered an Annual Lecture on the Contemporary Relevance of Guru Nanak’s Teachings.
The lecture has been organised by the India Institute of the university on Friday.
“Based on the aspirations and sentiments of the British Indian community to support research and dissemination of the Guru’s teachings to academic courses, I’m very happy to formally announce the setting up of the Guru Nanak Chair, supported by the government of India at the University of Birmingham,” said Puri.
“I believe that the Guru Nanak Chair will enable further research on how best the message of Guru Nanak can be shared with the larger community in the UK and beyond, and how mankind can benefit from this message which has an eternal value to make our world a better place, he said.
The minister, who is in-charge of the civil aviation and housing and urban affairs, said he was confident that the new Chair will comprehensively help to disseminate the teachings of Guru Nanak, the basic tenets of the Sikh religion he founded and effectively help spread the message of universal peace and brotherhood.
The Chair is part of a series of events being held at the University of Birmingham to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and was finalised following talks between its Chancellor, Indian-origin peer Lord Karan Bilimoria, and the Consul General of Birmingham Dr Aman Puri.
According to details confirmed so far, the Indian government is set to contribute 100,000 pounds towards the new Chair annually for five years the first tranche of which will be made on November 12 to coincide with the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak.
The figure will be matched by the university and at the end of the first five-year period, the university’s contribution is expected to go up further with the aim of making it a Chair in perpetuity.
“The government of India will support the Chair for the first five years and then the university continues. The university has matched the government of India’s commitment, with another three-fold investment into making the Chair run in perpetuity,” said Professor Robin Mason, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.
“This is a true reflection of the partnership between Birmingham and India, and the UK and India,” said Lord Bilimoria.
Puri delivered the second annual lecture of Birmingham University’s India Institute, the first presented by external affairs minister S Jaishankar, and spoke at length about the urgent need to adopt Guru Nanak’s teachings in our daily lives.
He said: “Today, anti-social elements want to strike a chord of communal tension through radicalisation. New age technologies like social media make this easy as they prey on unsuspecting individuals.
“In such a challenging period, where the lines between opinions, facts and fiction are blurring, introspection and meditation are a source of strength, tolerance and clarity. As we celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of our first Guru, it is my hope that this occasion reminds us all that his teachings be followed both in letter and spirit.”