Maharaj Kaul (1940 - 2009), a UC Berkeley alum, was tireless campaigner against injustice and for peace, founder of groups such as India Relief and Education Fund, and Coalition Against Communalism, and long-time supporter of Institute for South Asia Studies (ISAS) at the University of California, Berkeley. P. Sainath, the 2007 winner of the Ramon Magsaysay award for journalism, literature, and creative communication arts and good friend of Maharaj Kaul wrote the following about him:
[...] Maharaj, the greatest of the left-wing organizers amongst Indians on the West Coast that people like me ever knew. For the two decades I knew him and for probably twice that time, the home of Maharaj Kaul in Fremont, CA, was sanctuary point for every (mostly broke) progressive author, scholar, poet, journalist, film maker or political activist from India visiting the United States [...] The man from Kashmir who took a PhD in civil engineering from Berkeley in 1972 (after being on that campus through historic times), was one of the most indefatigable political activists the Indian community in the United States has ever thrown up. At Berkeley, he helped found the South Asian Students Association and co-edited its monthly publication Spark. From his time in Berkeley till last September 30, there was no major political activity, agitation or movement that he did not engage with, or participate in, or fight for – or against. How he managed, alongside all this, to prepare multiple computer programs, turn out highly technical papers for international journals, write journalistic pieces in community papers, and publish political books, booklets and pamphlets [...]
(excerpted from "One of the Greatest of the Left Wing Organizers" - Memories of Maharaj, by P Sainath for Counter Punch. For the rest of the article, please see here.)
ISAS, together with the family of Maharaj Kaul, has established the Maharaj Kaul Memorial Fund at UC, Berkeley. The dual purpose of this fund is to provide support for:
- The Maharaj Kaul Memorial Lecture - an annual lecture series on the theme of social justice (on hold since 2016).
- The Maharaj Kaul Memorial Grants for Travel & Research - support for graduate fellowships.