Trehans donate $1 million to Kennedy Center for promoting Indian art, culture

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The India Fund will promote arts and artistic exhibits showcasing the history, traditions, literature, music, dance and culture of India. 

Ranvir Trehan. Credit: care.org.

Well-known Washington-area entrepreneur and philanthropist Ranvir Trehan and his wife, Adarsh, have donated $1 million to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The gift from the Trehans and the Trehan Foundation will be utilized as seed money for setting up an India Fund at the center for hosting performances and promoting Indian art forms through 2025.

The Trehans, who live in McLean, VA, have supported a number of institutions and causes in the United States and India, including University of Michigan, their alma mater; the American India Foundation; and CARE, which fights poverty in 94 countries. The Trehan Foundation, which was launched in 2003, works in the areas of international development, with a special focus on fighting global poverty, and performing arts.

Their donation to the Kennedy Center was first reported by India Abroad.

The agreement was signed November 14, in the presence of Indian Ambassador to the United States Navtej Sarna.

“The India Fund will exclusively be used to create and present at the Kennedy Center performing arts, artistic exhibits and/or festivals showcasing the history, traditions, literature, music, dance and/or culture of India,” Ranvir Trehan, who is also a member of the Kennedy Center’s Board of Trustees, told the weekly newspaper.

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“The intent of the India Fund is to be ‘country focused’ on India the current nation-state of India and the programming is intended to utilize established and/or emerging artists, singers, musicians or other performers or performance creators who are either citizens of India or whose ancestry is from India,” he added.

The Maximum India Festival held by the center in 2011 was a huge success mainly due to the donations from board member Romesh Wadhwani, the Trehans and several businesses. But, the center has not been able to conduct India-oriented programs since then.

Trehan said that “there is a need and desire for sustained India programming at the Kennedy Center for many years to come and I see this as a broad-based effort by individuals both in the Indian-American community and others interested in Indian culture from foundations and MNCs.”

This is the second donation of at least $1 million to a US institution by the Trehans to support an India-related initiative. In 2007, they donated $1 million to the University of Michigan to encourage collaborations between the University and India.

“The result may be several events every year or even a mini-festival or a substantial festival like Maximum India.  The Kennedy Center may choose to cooperate with performing arts centers in other cities on this effort,” he said.

The “country focused” India Fund will be utilized to perform and promote arts, artistic exhibits and/or festivals showcasing the history, traditions, literature, music, dance and/or culture of India. Established or emerging artists, singers, musicians or other performers or performance creators who are either citizens of India or whose ancestry is from India will be invited to the center for exhibiting their skills.

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“The Kennedy Center is a place, first, to be providing both programming that is well known and programming that is less well known, so that it becomes more well-known and it has a larger stage,” Deborah F. Rutter, the center’s president, told India Abroad.

This is the second donation of at least $1 million to a US institution made by the Trehans to support an India-related initiative. In 2007, they had donated $1 million to the University of Michigan to encourage collaborations between the university and India.

“We feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to the University of Michigan and hope this gift will help U-M help others,” Ranvir Trehan said at the time, crediting the university for his and his wife’s success.

Adarsh Trehan; photo credit: University of Michigan

At Michigan, he earned a master’s in operations research. Adarsh Trehan graduated in political science from the university’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The couple gave another $125,000 to Michigan in 2014 to fund launch the Trehan Family Ford School Fund to support the Ford School Centennial Reunion celebration

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Adarsh Trehan, who retired as senior program analyst from the  US Department of Commerce and Veteran Affairs, is a member of the Ford School Committee, a voluntary leadership panel that helps the school with fundraising and reviews its goals, programs and plans.

Trehan, a well-known technology entrepreneur, came to the United States in 1964 to study at Michigan. Prior to coming to the US, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. He also has an MBA from the University of Dayton.

Trehan first came into prominence in the 1980s, when he ran the information and communications systems at MITRE Corporation. In 1987, he founded SETA Corporation, a high-end technology IT and communication consulting firm. The company was sold to Apptis Holdings, Inc., a services and tech deployment company, in 2004.

From 2005 to 2011, he served as the vice chairman of Apptis.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the 2014 American Bazaar Philanthropy Dialogue, Trehan discussed his philanthropic initiatives. After essentially exiting from “the business world in 2005… I felt like it was time to give back, he said. ” We created a foundation and started do things that interested us… The first interest was girls and women… Girls, education, health, development, women, maternal health.”

(This post has been updated.)

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