SOAS University of London

Beloved broadcaster Michael Palin supports new scholarship in South Asian Studies with a major donation

27 January 2016

SOAS Honorary Fellow Michael Palin CBE has donated a major gift worth £70,000 to the SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) in order to fund a full two-year scholarship for a student enrolling on the Institute’s MA Intensive South Asian Studies in 2016.

M Palin at Grad 2015
Michael Palin became a SOAS Honorary Fellow in 2008

Launched in 2014, the MA offers students the opportunity to develop fluencies in South Asia language and culture alongside advanced training in an academic discipline. Students learn a South Asian language and a relevant discipline at SOAS in their first year, and in their second year they spend a semester at a partner university in South Asia before returning to SOAS to write an extended dissertation.

Mr Palin’s donation will also support the digitisation and cataloguing of a collection of about 4,500 slide transparencies of sacred sites in Vrindaban and Braj, the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Uttar Pradesh (India). The photographs were taken by the late Dr Alan Entwistle (1949­96) during the mid­1970s, while he was a PhD student at SOAS, and are part of the SOAS Library collection.

SSAI Director Professor Michael Hutt said: ‘We are keen to create a deep and sophisticated understanding of South Asia in our students and SOAS’ resources in this field exceed those of any other British university. Michael Palin’s very generous gift opens a door for students who are unable to access this type of academic training on the grounds of cost. I am also delighted that the long lost Entwistle collection of photographs of Braj will now become accessible to students of devotional Hinduism and Indian religious history worldwide”

Michael Palin is a much loved British comedian, writer and broadcaster; he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from SOAS in July 2008.

More information on the scholarship, including eligibility criteria, will be available here in February.