Yale University and India
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Taking its name from a US-born British merchant who made a fortune in Madras (Chennai) and was involved in slave trade from India, the storied Yale University is drawing attention to its origins after agreeing to rename one of its colleges named after a former US vice-president who was also a slave advocate.
Yale University president Peter Salovey announced on Saturday that scrapping the name of Calhoun College and renaming it in honor of Gra ce Murray Hopper, a 1934 graduate and US Navy rear admiral who made pivotal advances in computer science.
“The decision to change a college's name is not one we take lightly ,“ Salovey wrote in an email to the campus community . “But John Calhoun's legacy as a white supremacist and a national leader who passionately supported slavery as a `positive good' fundamentally conflicts with Yale's mission and values.“
The announcement brought renewed attention to the name of the university itself and how it came to be founded.Elihu Yale was a Boston-born Briton who who was sent by the East India Company to India in the 1680s, long before the US was even founded. Basing himself in what is now Chennai during the Aurangazeb era, he amassed a fortune, cheating his employers and Indians, while going on to become the governor of Fort St George.
The East India Company eventually cottoned on to his rackets and he was packed off home in 1699 after some two decades of rapacious excesses in India, but not before he became known as a slave trader who decreed that every outbound ship from Madras would be packed with 10 slaves.
In between his savage capers in India, Yale gave about £800 through auctioned goods to a group of ministers trying to set up a college in Connecticut, and in return was honoured with the college being named after him, never mind his unsavory reputation that included hanging a stable boy to death because he stole a horse.
Yale is not the only institution facing a naming crisis. At Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown, Harvard among other schools, liberal students have demanded that the names of buildings, programs and legacies be reexamined to take into account modern sensitivities.Even Thomas Jefferson, among the country's Founding Fathers, has had his slave-keeping past scrutinised.