ONEONTA, N.Y. -- When Nobel Committee members meet next month to choose this year’s laureates, one of the names in front of them will be that of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Ashok K. Malhotra. Best known for his humanitarian work in establishing the Indo-International Schools, five of them since 1979, Malhotra is a 2010 Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
In 1979, Malhotra established the SUNY Oneonta study-abroad program in India. Since then, he has led 17 groups with more than 300 students, faculty, and community members to India to build the Indo-International Schools, feed those in need, work with Mother Teresa, assist in medical clinics, and improve life for the poorest of the poor.
Since its founding in 1996, the original Indo-International School has grown from 50 children to 550, and 10 of its graduates already have gone on to college. Malhotra has led the establishment of Indo-International Schools in Dundlod, Rajasthan, Mahapura, Rajasthan, and Kuran, Gujarat, which now serve over 1,100 children and employ more than 40 teachers.
Much of the funding for the five schools comes from Dr. Malhotra’s Ninash Foundation, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization established in 1996 in honor of his late wife, Nina, to promote literacy among children and adults throughout the world.
“It is humbling,” says Malhotra of his nomination. “My journey, my life’s work, lifting up those in need and promoting understanding across cultural divides, has been its own reward. Merely to be considered for an honor such as this is deeply moving.”
Malhotra earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1969 after having come to the United States in 1963 as a student at the Center for Cultural and Technical Interchange between East and West in Honolulu. The East West Center featured him earlier this year in “Fifty Years, Fifty Stories,” a publication commemorating its 50th anniversary, noting that he has affected “change in amazing ways across borders, continents and oceans.”
In May, Malhotra returned to his alma mater to receive the University of Hawaii Distinguished Alumni Award. He also was recognized by both houses of the Hawaii State Legislature for his dedication to promoting cultural understanding.
A member of the SUNY Oneonta faculty since 1967 and a founding member of the college’s Philosophy Department, Malhotra has received several academic honors, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1994. In 2001 he was promoted to the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
Malhotra is the author of 13 books and many other publications. He has endowed four annual Seva Awards, two each at both SUNY Oneonta and the University of Hawaii. “Seva” in the Sanskrit language means “compassionate service,” and these awards recognize students and faculty dedicated to humanitarian efforts.
Since its inception in 1901, 90 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded. This year the Nobel Committee will consider 237 nominees and announce the winner on October 8.