The Samprajna Institute Newsletter - First Issue
Namaskara and Hare Krishna.
This is the debut of the Samprajña Institute’s first newsletter. In this issue, we report some of the important milestones passed in the Institute’s first year. Just a few days ago, the Samprajña Institute has made its first major press release, which was very successful in reporting our review and analysis of a book that has been very important to the Hindu community in the U.S. The details of our press release are reported below.
In September of this year, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service granted the Samprajña Institute its 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt status. Special thanks and appreciation is given to one of the Samprajña Institute’s supporters, and coming projects and our business model is also described.
Getting to where we are now has been hard but enjoyable, and we hope to share with you our future successes throughout the coming years.
With warm regards,
Krishna Kirti Das
The Samprajña Institute
First Major Press Release: “New Hindu Self-Identity Read in Invading the Sacred”
This is the headline in a USAsian Wire press release, announcing the Samprajña Institute’s review and analysis of the book Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. As per the news release:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—(U.S. ASIAN WIRE)— Samprajña Institute has just published a review of the book Invading the Sacred, which documents a decade-long controversy surrounding the misrepresentation of Hinduism by scholars connected with the American Academy of Religions (AAR) and its branch known as Religions in South Asia (RISA). The Samprajña Institute review, titled "Understanding and Misunderstanding Hindu Tradition," explains why this book signals a new intellectual movement within Hinduism and some of the challenges this new movement will likely face.
Invading the Sacred is important because it signals a new intellectual movement that is effectively creating a new Hindu self-identity. "Expatriate Hindus are a minority in their host countries," says Samprajña Institute President, Krishna Kirti Das, "so they cannot afford to ignore the negative things said about them in the halls of higher education. Furthermore, because they are trying to preserve their identities as Hindus outside of India, doing so necessarily implies understanding what it means to be 'Hindu' separate from Indian nationalism and politics. Our review explores the implications of this new search for self-identity. If this new intellectual movement carries over to India, it could eventually change Indian politics and culture in significant ways."
The entire press release can be found at the USAsian Wire site: http://www.usasianwire.com/release.php?id=1824383480, and the full book review, in both English and Hindi, can be found here: http://publications.samprajna.org.
USAsian Wire: Professional and Personal
The team at USAsian Wire, headed by founder Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, was professional and extremely helpful in guiding us through their press-release submission process. Ms. Yngonjo-Bowes helped us target US Indian news outlets and associations, and senior editor Sue Himmelstein helped immensely in improving our original draft. We recommend USAsian Wire’s services to any group who wants to get their message out to the Indian community in the United States. Ms. Yngonjo-Bowes and her team are exceptionally professional and personal.
IRS Grants 501(c)(3) status to the Samprajña Institute
On September 8, 2008, the IRS granted the Samprajña Institute 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. This is a very important milestone for the Samprajña Institute. “Donations and gifts to the institute are now tax deductible under IRS tax codes,” says Samprajña Institute President Krishna Kirti Das, “and that will help us raise funds for important projects in the coming year.”
The Samprajña Institute offers their special thanks and appreciation to Haripada Prabhu and Mother Phalini. Their support and contributions have made possible the Samprajña Institute’s first major press release and have covered the fees for the Institute’s 501(c)(3) status. Their contributions continue to support ongoing operations. From all of us at the Samprajña Institute, thank you!
Projects for the Coming Year
What does the Samprajña Institute do? The Samprajña Institute is a think tank that engages in public policy research. The Samprajña Institute specifically aims to find solutions to issues of interest to the public by exploring areas where social science and the ancient wisdom of the Hindu, or Vedic, tradition can work together for the benefit of all. Here are some of the projects the Samprajña Institute will be pursuing in the coming year:
- Ending Hindu / Christian Violence Over Conversion. The state of Orissa, India, recently saw a spate of deadly riots centered on issues of religious conversion. With the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 24th, 2008, by gunmen with ties to both Naxalite and Christian communities, a series of deadly, tit-for-tat riots between Christians and Hindus engulfed the Kandhamal district in Orissa. The incident soon gained national attention, with politicians calling for national anti-conversion laws. The Samprajña Institute will provide analysis and research on this issue with a view toward proffering a solution to the conversion issue.
- Varnashram in the Global Community. The world today has two dominant socio-political systems: liberal democracy and socialism. Significant about both of these forms of socio-political organization is that they are both primarily products of the Western intellectual tradition. Is there room in the world today for alternative socio-political systems that represent the highest ideals of justice and fairness yet are indigenous to non-Western cultures? Or, is the West truly “best”? The Samprajña Institute seeks to explore these questions with regard to India’s ancient social system, Varnashram, and will provide to the public in-depth analysis and discussion on this question.
- Other Projects. Other projects can be found on the Samprajña Institute’s website at http://samprajna.org/node/5.
How much do our projects cost? Surprisingly, not so much. Throughout history, India has been renowned as a center of learning. Taking advantage of our extensive contacts with India and its culture, the Samprajña Institute employs outsourcing as a part of its business model. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary of a sociologist is $60,290 USD per year. However, estimates for a sociologist of comparable seniority in India work out to little more than Rs. 3 lakhs INR, or about $7,000 USD per year, which is little more than 10% of the salary of a U.S.-based sociologist!
For just one-fourth the cost of a U.S.-based social scientist, the Samprajña Institute can keep two full-time social scientists producing quality research and reports all year around. On a project-by-project basis, this works out to between $ 4,000 - $6,000 per three-month project, which includes research materials, media publicity, translation into Indic languages, and all other necessary expenses. One- to two-month projects can work out to be significantly less, at about $1,500 to $2,500 dollars per project.
Of course, we don’t outsource our core competencies, which include expertise in areas of Indian ethics, values, culture, and religion. Our cutting-edge, our business advantage, lies not in outsourcing. Our cutting edge comes from how we combine external resources with core competencies to produce intellectual goods that shed fresh light on old problems of interest to the public.
It’s End of the Year, We Need Your Help.
The Samprajña Institute depends on your support to conduct quality, cutting-edge research in the area of public policy. Donations and gifts given before the end of the year can be deducted on 2008 U.S. tax returns. Please visit our website at http://samprajna.org for more information about how you can help.