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While Anirban Majumdar will never participate in the book drive that bears his name, it is helping to keep his memory alive in the Penn community.

Majumdar, a 25-year-old Engineering graduate student, was found dead on Nov. 18, his body floating in the Schuylkill River. The cause of death is still unknown.

Though Majumdar's friends and professors were initially reeling from the shock of his death, they were willing to listen to Engineering junior Mahendra Prasad's proposal to make Majumdar the namesake for the book drive he had been planning.

The book drive aims to collect 1,000 books by May. These books will be transported to India and distributed to needy libraries and schools in poor areas.

The vision of the book drive is to give more Indian children the academic background that Majumdar had, in order to enable them to study in the United States.

Computer and Information Sciences Graduate Chairman Val Tannen saw the book drive as a way to celebrate Majumdar, a native of Calcutta, India, and the hard work and ambition that brought him to Penn to pursue his doctoral studies.

"Anirban Majumdar was a very promising young scientist whose life and career ended tragically early," Tannen said. "The book drive is a way for our Penn community to keep the memory of Anirban alive."

Prasad said that he sees a natural connection between Majumdar's legacy and the concept for his book drive. Having visited India himself, has seen firsthand the need for academic resources that students there face.

"My personal library is larger than that of a town with a population of 40,000 in India," Prasad said. "I could tell how much these people are intellectually starved."

Prasad learned of the opportunity to ameliorate this type of intellectual starvation in India this summer when he met N.R. Narayana Murthy at an economics conference in Switzerland.

Murthy is the Chief Executive Officer of Infosys Technologies, a software company headquartered in Bangalor, India, that funds the Infosys Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization that has started over 6,500 libraries in rural India.

Murthy suggested that Prasad create a council of students called the Hope Consortium at Penn that would organize the book collection. The Infosys Foundation is currently sponsoring the consortium, and Infosys will handle the international transportation and subsequent distribution of books in India.

While the Hope Consortium is still looking for volunteers to complete the council and oversee the book drive, Prasad began collecting books last month. Thus far, he has collected and cataloged over 200 books with the help of Christine Metz, an administrative assistant in the Computer and Information Sciences Department. She is currently receiving books in Room 556 of the Moore School Building, located at the corner of 33rd and Walnut streets.

Prasad is looking for volunteers to be on the Hope Consortium council and for volunteers to help with collecting books, transporting them to storage and setting up more collection sites.

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