Click to Subscribe & Stay Informed via Email!

Mission

The Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. 

View the South Asia Institute video.

Upcoming Events


Tue, April 22, 2014 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S250

The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World

SAI Book Talk

T.V Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations, Department of Political Science, McGill University

Chair: Asad Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Social Anthropology Program, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Seemingly from its birth, Pakistan has teetered on the brink of becoming a failed state. Today, it ranks 133rd out of 148 countries in global competitiveness. Its economy is as dysfunctional as its political system is corrupt; both rely heavily on international aid for their existence. Taliban forces occupy 30 percent of the country. It possesses over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists’ hands. Why, in an era when countries across the developing world are experiencing impressive economic growth and building democratic institutions, has Pakistan been such a conspicuous failure?

In The Warrior State, noted international relations and South Asia scholar T.V. Paul untangles this fascinating riddle. Paul argues that the “geostrategic curse”–akin to the “resource curse” that plagues oil-rich autocracies–is at the root of Pakistan’s unique inability to progress. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the center of major geopolitical struggles: the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime is, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch the far-reaching domestic reforms necessary to promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions. Paul shows that excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan’s limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. Indeed, despite the regime’s emphasis on security, the country continues to be beset by widespread violence and terrorism.

START
Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 04:00pm

END
Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S250
Harvard University

ADDRESS
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Thu, April 24, 2014 - Fri, April 25, 2014  /  Charles Hotel

South Asia Regionalism: Workshops on Shared Challenges, and the Way Forward

SAI Annual Symposium

As part of its Annual Symposium, SAI is hosting a series of workshops on April 24 and 25 to highlight ongoing faculty research projects supported by SAI.

Thursday, April 24, 2014:

Mobile Technology, 8:30 am – 11:00 am

Disasters and Mental Health, 11:15 am – 1:45 pm

The Contemporary South Asian City, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Friday, April 25, 2014

From SAARC to Slums: Urban Water Challenges in South Asia, 8:30 am – 11:00 am

Religion and Secularism, 11:15 am – 1:15 pm

Informal Workers, Enterprises, and Cities: Addressing Informality in South Asia, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

 

More information.

START
Thu, Apr 24, 2014

END
Fri, Apr 25, 2014

VENUE
Charles Hotel

ADDRESS
1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Thu, April 24, 2014 from 05:00pm - 06:30pm  /  Charles Hotel

Poverty and Development in South Asia

SAI Mahindra Lecture

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed Founder and Chairperson of BRAC

Introduction: Martha ChenLecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; International Coordinator of the global research-policy-action network Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing

Sir Fazle was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He was educated both at Dhaka and Glasgow universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil, when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s war of independence. There, he helped initiate a fundraising and awareness campaign called Help Bangladesh.

When the war was over, he returned to the newly independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelter in India during the war, started returning to the country and their relief and rehabilitation called for urgent efforts. It was then that he established BRAC to rehabilitate the returning refugees in a remote area in north-eastern Bangladesh. He directed his policy towards helping the poor develop their capacity to better manage their lives. Thus, BRAC’s primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under his leadership, in the span of only four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.

Reception to follow.

More information here.

START
Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 05:00pm

END
Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 06:30pm

VENUE
Charles Hotel

ADDRESS
1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Tue, April 29, 2014 at 07:00pm  /  Harvard Book Store

Gandhi Before India

SAI Book Talk

Ramachandra Guha, Author and Independent Scholar

Pratap Bhanu MehtaPresident of the Centre for Policy Research; Associate Professor of Government and of Social Studies, Harvard University

Cosponsored with the Harvard Book Store

Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author RAMACHANDRA GUHA and President of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, PRATAP BHANU MEHTA for a discussion of Guha’s new book Ghandi Before India.

Here is a revelatory work of biography that takes us from Mohandas Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his upbringing in Gujarat, his two years as a student in London, and his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. Ramachandra Guha has uncovered a myriad of previously untapped documents, including private papers of Gandhi’s contemporaries and co-workers, contemporary newspapers and court documents, the writings of Gandhi’s children, secret files kept by British Empire functionaries. Using this wealth of material in a brilliantly nuanced narrative, Guha describes the social, political, and personal worlds in which Gandhi began his journey to become the modern era’s most important and influential political actor. And Guha makes clear that Gandhi’s work in South Africa-far from being a mere prelude to his accomplishments in India-was profoundly influential on his evolution as a political thinker, social reformer, and beloved leader.

Ramachandra Guha has previously taught at Yale and Stanford universities, the University of Oslo, the Indian Institute of Science, and the London School of Economics. His books include a pioneering environmental history, an award-winning social history of cricket, and the award-winning India After Gandhi.He writes regularly on social and political issues for the British and Indian press, including columns in The Telegraph and the Hindustan Times, and also for The New York Times.

START
Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 07:00pm

END
Tue, Apr 29, 2014

VENUE
Harvard Book Store

ADDRESS
1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Thu, May 1, 2014 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S153

Modern Ethnicities and Ancient Graves: The Deconstruction and Re-Analysis of the Protohistoric Cemeteries and Ethnic Origin Stories in Pakistan

South Asia Without Borders Seminar

Muhammad Zahir, SAI Aman Fellow; Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, Hazara University, Pakistan

Chair: Richard Meadow, Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory, Harvard Peabody Museum; Senior-Lecturer, Harvard Anthropology Department

The protohistoric cemeteries in northwestern Pakistan, commonly known as the Gandhara Grave Culture of Pakistan, have primarily been explained in terms of migrations and as an expression of particular ethnicities (e.g. Aryans) by a select group of archaeologists since early 1960s. The deconstruction of these archaeological traditions exposes their inner inconsistencies, circular arguments and shows that the past explanations of these cemeteries were more relevant to the academic and political environments of the main researchers than to the cemeteries or presumed ethnicities.

The re-analyses and interpretations of these protohistoric cemeteries show these cemeteries as part of burial traditions that transcended different geographical regions, ethnic groups and archaeological cultures, from the beginning of second millennium BC to the end of 1st millennium AD.  However, the Aryans’ story, as imagined to have been supported by hard evidence from these cemeteries, is so often repeated in the archaeology of Pakistan that it has become an archaeological factoid, which is transmitted without any questioning in research publications and research theses.  This, in turn, has supported the identification of their biological and cultural successors in different modern ethnic groups in Pakistan, for example the Pathans, and has become an integral part of their origin stories.

START
Thu, May 1, 2014 at 04:00pm

END
Thu, May 1, 2014 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S153
Harvard University

ADDRESS
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Mon, May 5, 2014 - Wed, May 7, 2014  /  CGIS South

Design for Urban Disaster: Response – Resilience – Transformation Conference

Cosponsored with Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Oxford Brookes University School of Architecture; Harvard University South Asia Institute; Habitat for Humanity; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

www.designforurbandisaster.com

 

Mon, May 5, 2014 from 06:00pm - 07:30pm  /  CGIS South, S030

The Past Before Us: Historical Traditions of Early North India

SAI Book Talk

Romila Thapar, Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

The claim, often made, that India—uniquely among civilizations—lacks historical writing distracts us from a more pertinent question, according to Romila Thapar: how to recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways very different from European conventions. In The Past Before Us, a distinguished scholar of ancient India guides us through a panoramic survey of the historical traditions of North India. Thapar reveals a deep and sophisticated consciousness of history embedded in the diverse body of classical Indian literature.

START
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 06:00pm

END
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 07:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S030
Harvard University

ADDRESS
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Mon, May 5, 2014 from 06:00pm - 07:30pm  /  CGIS South, S030

The Past Before Us: Historical Traditions of Early North India

SAI Book Talk

Romila Thapar, Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

The claim, often made, that India—uniquely among civilizations—lacks historical writing distracts us from a more pertinent question, according to Romila Thapar: how to recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways very different from European conventions. In The Past Before Us, a distinguished scholar of ancient India guides us through a panoramic survey of the historical traditions of North India. Thapar reveals a deep and sophisticated consciousness of history embedded in the diverse body of classical Indian literature.

START
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 06:00pm

END
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 07:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S030
Harvard University

ADDRESS
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Announcements


SAI Annual Symposium

SAI’s Annual Symposium, ”South Asia Regionalism: Workshops on Shared Challenges and the Way Forward’ will take the form of workshops to highlight’s SAI’s ongoing multi-year interfaculty research projects. April 24 & 25, 2014, Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA.

    Job opportunity: [HYP]e Delhi

    [HYP]e aims to broaden access to the top American universities by providing motivated Indian students an extraordinary learning experience with the best tutors in the world. This is a job for creative thinkers and brilliant communicators.

      Harvard College Pakistan Weekend

      SAI supports a number of student organizations at Harvard through grants for programming on issues relevant to South Asia, including the Harvard College Pakistan Student Association, which is hosting a conference at Harvard in April on economic issues related to Pakistan.

        ‘A pool for do-gooders’ by Tarun Khanna

        Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute & Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, wrote an op-ed in The Indian Express about corporate social responsibility, arguing that targeted investments should be driven by a knowledge of how CSR fits into company strategy.

          Contribute to Story South Asia

          Story South Asia, is a media startup focused on South Asian, and they are looking for contributors to write opinion pieces about South Asia. They are looking for opinion-editorials, travel pieces, book reviews, columns, interviews with pertinent people from the region,and blogposts.

            Brandeis seeks lecturer for South Asian Studies Program

            The Programs in Religious Studies and South Asian Studies at Brandeis University seek to hire a Lecturer to teach a course on Hinduism or Religions in South Asia—or another related course in the instructor’s specialty—in the fall of 2014. Candidates must have a PhD or be an advanced doctoral student and have previous teaching experience