Dr. T. M. A. Pai, the founder of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, was a staunch believer in the importance of the humanities. He wrote that “the craze for medical and engineering education must not come at the cost of vital subjects of arts, literature, and philosophy.” It was this vision that led to the creation of the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities (MCPH) in February 2010. The institution later changed its name to Manipal Centre for Humanities (MCH) in May 2018.
The task of designing and setting up the institution was given to Dr. Sundar Sarukkai – the Founding father of the centre– a prolific and highly-regarded author in the fields of logic, philosophy of science and phenomenology, as well as former Dean of the School of Humanities at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
Initially, MCH offered a single program: Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Humanities . It counted only six students, including one international student, and three faculty members: Dr. Sundar Sarukkai, Dr. Meera Baindur, and Dr. George Varghese.
The history of the MCH has been one of strong growth. Currently, there are two distinct MA programs – English and Sociology. However, the interdisciplinary spirit has been preserved in the numerous courses that all three programs share. This approach was retained in the design of the BA (Humanities) program that started in August 2017.
In 2014, MCH moved to a new building – a beautiful Kerala-style construction with a commanding view of Manipal Lake. The new MCH building houses six classrooms, a two-story library, and the state-of-the-art Gangubai Hanagal Auditorium, as well as a conference room, a common room, and offices for faculty, staff and PhD students.
The number of students and faculty at the MCH has increased steadily over the last five years. Today there are ten faculty members and over ninety students, a faculty-to-student ratio that ensures students get the best academic attention and guidance possible.
Since moving to the new campus, MCH has hosted several prestigious national and international academic events such as "Deleuze Studies in Asia", "Dharma and the Past: Engaging with Prof. Romila Thapar", "Non-legal State Practices in India", "Rethinking Svaraj", "Dhvani: Conversations on Women, Writing and Freedom", "Caste, Experience, and the Poverty of Education: Perspectives from South India", "Dharma and Jainism", "MCH Film Appreciation Workshop", "Injustice and the Self in Dalit Writing", "Literature and the Making of a Vernacular Nation".
In 2016, four new Centres were set up within MCH to encourage research and activities in specific areas of interest -- the Hebbar Gallery and Art Centre, Centre for Women's Studies, Centre for Cultural History, Centre for Religious Studies. MCH is also home to the Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Indian Literature (2017-2019).
Many of our students come from some of the best educational institutions in India, such as St. Stephen’s College (University of Delhi), Christ University, Mount Carmel College (Bangalore University), Sophia College (University of Mumbai), Jadavpur University, Stella Maris College (University of Madras), Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
MCH has also admitted students from the following international institutions: University of Adelaide (Australia), La Trobe University (Australia), St. John's College (USA), Hood College (USA), Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Peru), Universidad de Piura (Peru) and Université Catholique de l’Ouest (France).
Conversely, MCH alumni have been admitted into doctoral programs in prestigious international institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania (USA), University of Chicago (USA), Columbia University, University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA), University of Toronto (Canada), University of Kent (UK), University of Groningen (Netherlands), University of Western Ontario and Australian National University.
Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Indian Literature (June 2017- May 2019)
Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) set up the Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Indian Literature in 2015 to promote and support projects in contemporary Indian literature. In June 2017, the Chair was awarded to Novelist and Associate Professor at Manipal Centre for Humanities (MCH) Dr. Gayathri Prabhu.
The vision of the Chair for 2017-2019 was to support literary activities that synthesize different narrative traditions within national and international frameworks that are contemporary and cosmopolitan. From June 2017 to May 2018, the Chair set up four initiatives: the Writer-in-Residence program, Manipal Writers Workshop, Book Completion Fellowship, and the Manipal Young Writers Publishing Grant. In January 2019, the Chair inaugurated the Manipal Arts Initiative. The Chair extended its support to writers through residencies and fellowships till May 2019.
The Writer-in-Residence program at Manipal Academy of Higher Education is given in recognition of a writer’s accomplishments and to expose the local community to their work. From 2017-2019 the chair hosted reputed writers such as Kiran Nagarkar, Perumal Murugan, Easterine Kire, K R Meera, Rakhshanda Jalil, and Vivek Shanbhag.
Kiran Nagarkar is one of the most revered living writers of modern Indian literature. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Ravan and Eddie, Cuckold (for which he won the Sahitya Akademi Award), God’s Little Soldier and The Extras, a sequel to Ravan and Eddie.
Perumal Murugan is one of India’s most reputed contemporary writers and among our foremost literary craftsmen. His Tamil novels, Koola Maathaari, Nizhal Mutram, and Madhorubagan have been translated into English as Seasons of the Palm, Current Show, and One Part Woman, all to popular and critical acclaim. He has received awards from the Tamil Nadu government as well as from Katha Books. Seasons of the Palm was shortlisted for the international Kiriyama Award in 2005. In 2017, the English translation of his novel Madhorubagan won the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize.
Easterine Kire, born in Nagaland, North-east India, has a PhD in English literature from Pune University, India. Kire’s first book of poetry (Kelhoukevira,1982) was the first book of English poetry to be published by a Naga. Kire was awarded the Governor’s medal for excellence in Naga literature (2011), and in 2013 Catalan PEN, Barcelona honoured her with the Free Voice award.
K.R. Meera is a multi-award-winning writer and columnist who has published more than a dozen books including short stories, novels, and essays, winning some of the most prestigious literary prizes including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for short story and novel, the Vayalar Award and the Odakkuzhal Award. In 2015 she won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Aarachar (Hangwoman).
Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, critic, and literary historian. She has published over 20 books and written over 50 academic papers and essays. She was awarded the Kaifi Azmi Award for her contribution to Urdu and her translation The Sea Lies Ahead won the KLF Peace Prize awarded by the Karachi Litfest and the German Embassy. She received the First Jawad Memorial Prize for Urdu-Hindi Translation.
Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short story collections, three novels, and two plays. Vivek was the founding editor of the literary journal Desha Kaala. His critically acclaimed novel Ghachar Ghochar was published in English translation and is translated into 17 other languages worldwide. Ghachar Ghochar was among the best ten books of 2017 listed by NY Times as well as The Guardian.
Book Completion Fellowship
Recognizing that writers are often forced to shelve or put into hibernation their book projects due to lack of time, space and sustained writing routine, the Book Completion Fellowship was set up to facilitate development and completion of ongoing writing projects of merit.
Writers who have visited Manipal under the Book Completion Fellowship include Novelist and short story writer Mahesh Rao, writer and comic journalist C G Salamander, comic creator, visual artist and Founder/Editor of Brainded India Appupen, journalist, writer, and translator Suneetha Balakrishnan; and writer TS Goravar.