The founding committee members, Dr. Chandrika Rajagopal, Deepak Wadhwani, and Anu Reddy, held their first public meeting in June of that year to garner support from the Pittsburgh Indian community and present their concept for the future Indian Nationality Room. The committee was inspired by the ancient Nālandā University, a Buddhist monastery and an eminent institution in India from the 5th through 12th centuries CE, which they chose to represent Indian culture and heritage in their nationality room. Nālandā was an international center of learning in Asia, providing free education to those students fortunate enough to pass the rigorous entrance examinations. Mr. Wadhwani, an architect with Renaissance 3 Architects in Pittsburgh, volunteered his time and labor in designing the Indian Nationality Room.
The proposed classroom was modeled from a monastery courtyard at Nālandā, featuring ornate stone columns, soft rose bricks, and replica sculptures. After determining their objectives for fundraising and planning, the Indian Nationality Room Committee presented $5,000 and a signed statement of intent to the University of Pittsburgh. During this "Declaration of Gift" Ceremony in July 1993, the committee formally announced its plans for the Indian Nationality Room; they were then permitted to select a space in the Cathedral of Learning.
Fundraising events planned by the Indian Nationality Room Committee included several traditional Indian dance performances and Indian classical music concerts. Additionally, the committee held multiple dinner-dances around the Pittsburgh area. Notably, the "We Love India Ball" in February 1994 raised $160,000 toward the project's goal of $400,000. The committee also established special recognition levels for donors, designated after five "Famous Diamonds of India." The original notion of having construction completed by the 50th anniversary of Indian independence in August 1997 could not be met. However, by 1998 they were able to select contractors and begin construction on the classroom. The Indian community was the first to raise the entirety of funds for design and construction in 7 1/2 years -- the fastest of all Nationality Room Committees to reach their objective. Trips to India by Deepak Wadhwani, Maxine Bruhns, and Anu Reddy resulted in the selection of artifacts for replication. Ms. Reddy also had several pieces of artwork commissioned by Indian artists for the classroom.
By the fall of 1999, construction was almost completed and the Dedication Day confirmed for January 9, 2000.
For more information on the history of the room and committee, please visit: Guide to the Indian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1991-2011 UA.40.11.2 | Documenting Pitt
The Indian Room Committee encourages younger people of Indian origin to help carry on the mission of the committee in preserving and improving the Indian Nationality Room; Providing scholarships to University of Pittsburgh students who are interested in exploring aspects in India in various fields (Arts, Culture, Science, Medicine, etc.); Promoting and sustaining events such as India Day and Open House. We believe that the future lies with the younger generation, and look forward to a mutually beneficial interaction with them as we would like them to eventually become members of our committee.