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Bangladesh Activities


Fall Webinars: Disaster Management

Join the South Asia Institute for three interactive webinar events with Harvard University Fellows on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

 

South Asia is particularly vulnerable to disasters, from terrorist attacks, to floodings, to earthquakes that can affect large populations. In order to address these humanitarian crises, the fundamentals of mass casualty management are critical.These interactive webinars will highlight the work being done to systematically improve the response to emergencies in urban settings.

How to participate:

PREPARE: Visit SAI’s website to find articles and readings to prepare for the webinars.
WATCH: One the day of the webinar, watch live on SAI’s website
INTERACT: Tweet your questions and join the conversation on Facebook

Twitter: @HarvardSAI, #SAIWebinar
Facebook: Harvard SAI
Web: southasiainstitute.harvard.edu
Email: sainit@fas.harvard.edu


INCIDENT COMMAND
Wednesday, October 1
Shawn D’Andrea, MDInstructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
This seminar will teach incident command, which is a simple organizational structure that allows a coordinated thoughtful response when the needs of the crisis overwhelm the resources.
8:30 AM in Cambridge, 5:30 PM in Pakistan, 6 PM in India, 6:30 PM in Sri Lanka & Bangladesh

MASS CASUALTY TRIAGE
Wednesday, November 19
Usha Periyanayagam, MD, International Emergency Medicine Fellow, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School
When there are many injured people in an incident, non-medical personal might be needed to begin care of patients. This seminar will teach triage, a simple way to determine the priority of patient treatment, and the basics of treatment of patients.
8:30 AM in Cambridge, 6:30 PM in Pakistan, 7 PM in India, 7:30 PM in Sri Lanka, & Bangladesh (* Please note the time variation due to US Daylight Saving Time)

 

PLANNING AND PREPAREDNESS
Date/Time TBD
Mass casualty responses work best when there is a well-rehearsed plan. This seminar will cover planning for a disaster, preparatory drills, and debriefing, drawing from the experience of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

 

 

If your school or organization has video conferencing capabilities and you would like to host a site for this webinar, email us! Host sites will have the opportunity to ask the professors questions in real time. We welcome participation of sites throughout South Asia.

Made possible with generous support from the Pakistan Higher Education Commission.

    January public health courses in India and Bangladesh

    The Harvard School of Public Health will be offering two courses for students to travel to South Asia in January.

    Deadline to apply: Friday, September 19, 11:59 PM

    Application available via the GHP Field Trip iSite.

    Note: These courses are open to all Harvard students, although HSPH students are given priority.Once their application is submitted, applicants will have the opportunity to apply for funding through a SAI Winter Grant.

    GHP 298:  Field Trip to India

    January 5-23, 2015
    Richard A. Cash, MD, MPH

    The purpose of this course is to expose public health students and practitioners to the issue of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and to examine the potential policy and programmatic responses that can stem the rising trend of NCDs in LMICs, where most of the global NCD related morbidity, mortality and disability currently occurs. The course includes field visits to various institutions that are dealing with NCDs in India, comprising both governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as community and institution-based health organizations.  In addition, participants also have a field visit to community-based NCD project sites to learn about innovative implementation research strategies to address NCDs.  Faculty is comprised of PHFI, GOI, WHO, NGO’s, World Bank and others.

    “Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control”

    Course at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Delhi

    Click for full schedule and details (PDF).

     

    GHP 540 Field Trip to Bangladesh

    January 5 – 23, 2015
    Focus on Climate Change
    On Site Course Leader:  M. Omar Rahman, MD,MPH,DSc, Harvard University

    Students will have the opportunity to study public health issues at three different institutions: Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), the James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) at BRAC University, and the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research (ICDDR,B). All these institutions have had an excellent record of innovative, cutting edge public health research and practice. BRAC is the world’s largest NGO (and ranked #1) and the ICDDR,B is one of the premier research institutions in the developing world renowned for its demographic surveillance system in Matlab and applied research including the development of ORT.

    In Bangladesh there will also be a comprehensive orientation to introduce students to health and development in the Bangladesh context conducted by Professor Omar Rahman, former Associate Professor of Epidemiology at HSPH and currently Vice Chancellor and Dean of the School of Public Health at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB). Based at IUB, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development’s (ICCCD) aim is to develop a world-class institution that is closely related to locate experience, knowledge, and research in one of the countries that is most affected by climate change.

    ICCCD has had approximately 60 students from a wide range of countries and institutions including the US, UK, France, Sweden, and Germany. ICCCD has developed a web portal (The Communications and Knowledge Management Programme) for research on climate change in Bangladesh, with frequent updates including blogs and articles. The website has a large network of alumni from courses and programs, coordinates the Asia Pacific Forum (L&D) hosted on Asia Pacific Adaptation Network, and publishes articles, policy briefs, and papers.

    The Centre has designed and established a field program in the south of Bangladesh through which researchers and interested individuals can visit climate change affected sites. They can learn about how local communities are trying to adapt to the detrimental changes brought on by climate change. The impacts of climate change are varied and as a result affect people’s livelihoods and health, amongst other things.

    Click for more details.

      Tarun Khanna discusses emerging economies in Dhaka

      On August 19, Professor Tarun Khanna spoke on Developing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Emerging Economies. The event was a joint initiative of the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) and BRAC University, Dhaka.

      Professor Khanna spoke at the BRAC centre, Mohakhali, where the audience comprised distinguished Bangladeshi academics, entrepreneurs and university students.

      Professor Khanna’s talk focused on the importance of developing ecosystems and the critical role played by entrepreneurs in furthering a nation’s economy. “Entrepreneurs in emerging markets must compensate for limitations of the environment in which they find themselves,” Professor Khanna asserted.  He also added, “the same limitations, however, can be sources of opportunity.”

      Illustrating this point, Professor Khanna spoke about two entrepreneurial ventures initiated by his former students at Harvard Business School- Chai Point and Aspiring Minds. Chai Point outlets are tea shops in Delhi and Bangalore which source the best tea leaves from across India and adhere to the highest hygienic standards when preparing tea.

      Aspiring Minds, on the other hand, assesses work-readiness through a standardized test called AMCAT (Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test.) During his talk, Professor Khanna also highlighted the importance of students and young entrepreneurs having an ‘entrepreneurial bent of mind.’ and ‘not being risk averse.’

      Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice-chancellor of BRAC University and Professor Rezaur Rezzak, Director of BRAC University’s Centre For Entrepreneurship Development (CED) were also present and addressed the audience.

      -By Reeti Roy, India Research Center, Harvard Business School

      Media coverage:

      Harvard Professor Stresses the Centrality of Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Bangladesh
      Time Watch

      Discussion on entrepreneurial ecosystem
      Daily Sun

      Harvard scholar talks on developing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bangladesh
      Prnewbd.com

        Sir Fazle Hasan Abed shares lessons from BRAC’s success

        Sir Fazle Hasan Abed delivers the Mahindra Lecture

        “Hope is an element in which people take action, and energize themselves out of poverty,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, at the South Asia Institute Annual Harish C. Mahindra lecture on April 24, 2014 at the Charles Hotel. BRAC is the world’s largest NGO dedicated to development and fighting poverty, and Abed’s lecture provided the 150 attendees with an enlightening account of the extraordinary accomplishments of the global organization.

        Abed was introduced by Martha Chen, Harvard Kennedy School, who explained that BRAC is the only NGO from a developing country that has “gone truly global,” with a presence in 12 countries in Asia and Africa. With a goal of alleviating poverty, BRAC delivers microfinance, health, education, agriculture and livestock services based on an integrated approach that proved to be a success story in Bangladesh.

        Martha Chen, HKS

        Born and raised in Bangladesh, Abed was working as an accountant when the 1971 Liberation War broke out and deeply impacted his future. After advocating for his home country in London, he returned to Bangladesh after liberation, and launched relief and rehabilitation efforts for refugees. He founded BRAC with the goal of alleviating poverty by helping the poor develop capacity to manage their lives. This model has been successfully implemented in other developing countries around the world.

        Chen explained that it was Abed’s corporate management background that was crucial to this strategy’s success; Abed’s ability to analyze and develop models that can then be then replicated on larger scales was essential in expanding BRAC’s work outside of Bangladesh. Moreover, Chen said Abed’s moral compass “keeps him focused on the poor and disadvantaged” and has been the driving force in BRAC’s growth over the last four decades.

        Abed began his lecture by sharing statistics related to development in South Asia, highlighting that Bangladesh has experienced an extraordinary turnaround because of BRAC’s efforts. The numbers on life expectancy, infant mortality, fertility rate, under-five mortality, and child survival all show that Bangladesh has experienced the most dramatic change compared to other South Asian countries.

        Poverty in Bangladesh was “intense” when BRAC started, and at the beginning Abed set out to work on many issues “at the same time, with the same sense of urgency”: health, drinking water, hygiene, sanitation, and family planning. He said that he is proud of the progress made in Bangladesh, but there is still work to be done.

        Abed explained that maternal mortality and child health have always been vital issues, saying “a woman giving birth to a child and dying – there is not a greater tragedy than that.” BRAC University is working to train midwives, and Abed said he would like to have 10,000 midwives throughout the country to help reduce the death rate. Another initiative to help children was to go directly into the community and teach members how to create oral hydration therapy at home to prevent diarrhea. A campaign for immunization of the country’s children was also launched under his leadership.

        Throughout his lecture, Abed’s experience in business and management was evident in his innovative approaches to these social problems, as well as his deep understanding of the needs of his people. BRAC has given out $1.5 billion in small loans, mostly for $100 to $150 per person, which he said has been helpful especially for empowering women. BRAC’s bank became the largest lender to small and medium enterprises after Abed found that BRAC was not doing enough for these types of businesses, where many jobs are created. Turning to working with the ultra-poor, Abed realized that microfinance did not reach the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh. BRAC set up a program that gave them a stipend, “held their hand,” and nurtured them until they could get on their feet and then use microfinance. This model has helped 180,000 people get out of poverty.

        BRAC has also worked on education, especially for girls, which has helped empower mothers and reduce child marriage. Abed noted that this day was the 1 year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. This tragedy prompted BRAC to work to implement new safety regulations to help improve the quality of life for factory workers, especially women.

        Abed took time to answer questions from the audience, ranging from climate change, teacher retention, to genetically-modified seeds. On a question about the role of government, Abed explained that because government does not usually reach the village level, NGOs fill the role of working in villages. Abed sees development as a joint effort between businesses, the public sector government, and NGOs.

        Read more about the Annual Mahindra Lecture.

        Click here for a full video of the event.

        See the gallery below for photos of the event.

          Register for the 2014 Mahindra Lecture

          Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRACwill deliver the annual Mahindra Lecture on April 24, 2014, ‘Poverty and Development in South Asia.’ 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.

          Thursday, April 24, 2014 5:00 pm
          The Charles Hotel
          1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138

           

          Sir Abed was recently named one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Forbes magazine: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/leadership/2014/03/20/worlds-best-leaders.fortune/32.html

           

          Click here to register.

           

            BRAC: Innovation Fund Challenge

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

             

            In Bangladesh, BRAC sees a tremendous opportunity to use mobile money to innovate, better serve clients and become more efficient.

            Have a great idea on how mobile money can be used by BRAC in Bangladesh’? Share it!

            Up to six of the best ideas will be implemented at BRAC in 2014. Can’t think of an idea now? Browse through other people’s ideas, vote and comment—maybe an idea will come to you!

             

            Project background

            In Bangladesh, approximately half of the adult population is unbanked. Over the past three years, a mobile banking industry has emerged to meet these individuals’ needs, and has already reached 13 million users. As Bangladesh is urbanising rapidly, young adults working in the city send money home to their families through mobile money. In 2013, over USD 500 billion  was transacted via mobile money.

            BRAC sees a tremendous opportunity to use mobile money to innovate, better serve clients and become more efficient. With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab is establishing the BRAC Innovation Fund for digital financial services.  In the context of Bangladesh, the rapid adoption of mobile money creates exciting opportunities for new approaches in poverty reduction. As an organisation, BRAC hopes to improve operational efficiency, decrease costs, and make services more accessible to clients. Through a portfolio of diverse pilots, BRAC will experiment with mobile money to improve its existing programmes and establish new ones.  The project will run from September 2013 to August 2016, with the first set of pilots launching in June 2014.

            Through this initiative, BRAC hopes to accomplish the following objectives:

            • Increase the adoption of digital financial services at BRAC, particularly in service delivery
            • Increase the adoption of digital financial services by BRAC’s clients
            • Contribute to the global discourse on digital financial services

            BRAC Innovation Fund Challenge

            There will be two  rounds, one in 2014 and one in 2015. From March to May 2014, the Social Innovation Lab will hold the first round for BRAC programmes to generate ideas about how mobile money can be incorporated into existing initiatives or new pilots. The most promising will receive support from the Innovation Fund.

            On the challenge web site, anyone will be able to submit ideas. We are hoping this will spark conversations and introduce new ideas that may be implemented at BRAC.

            Click here for more information.

             

              Engineering Education in the 21st Century

              What role does engineering education play in our modern society? According to Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, engineering is crucial to a well-rounded society.

              On Thursday, February 27, SAI hosted its first webinar of the semester, titled ‘Societal Grand Challenges and the role of Engineering Education in the 21st Century’ with Professor Narayanamurti, who described engineering as “the ultimate liberal art” because of its role as a linking discipline.

              Using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), 15 sites in South Asia were able to participate live and interact with Narayanamurti. Viewers were also able to watch the webinar live on SAI’s website, and submit questions via Facebook and Twitter.

              Narayanamurti started by describing the importance of engineering at leading universities like Harvard, saying that “we want renaissance engineers who not only know how things work, but how the world works.” He explained that all of the major accomplishments throughout history have happened because of engineering, and the economic impact of engineering is huge. “Engineering underpins the economy,” he said.

              Explaining the role of engineering as a linking discipline, Narayanamurti said, “engineering is not applied science; it is science that is applied engineering.” He made a strong case for a well-rounded education in all fields, and said that we must encourage students to learn the creativity and innovation of entrepreneurship.

              Another ‘grand challenge’ of engineering education is getting women involved, which Narayanamurti explained is vital for societies. He explained that women’s access to science education is more of a challenge in the developing world, but not one that cannot be overcome. Having women leaders in all fields is an important step: “Can women be renaissance engineers? Yes!” he said. “We need more women role models so that it is an accepted reality.”

              15 sites from South Asia participated in the webinar

              Narayanamurti spent time explaining what skills are vital to engineering education. From teaching his own class, he has learned that creativity, as well as analytic and problem-solving skills, are essential. Since Harvard has a strong global presence, it can serve to be a leader for this sort of education.

              Throughout his presentation, Narayanamurti emphasized the importance of merging the study of engineering with biology, by combining the perfection of biology with the creativity of engineering, because “nature perfected how human beings and the living world were created.” Technology is evolving to become more human-like, which means merging biology with engineering is more important than ever.

              After his presentation, Narayanamurti took questions from students and education leaders at the participating sites, as well as questions on social media from viewers in Pakistan, India, and Australia.

              The universities participating live were: Bahria University Islamabad, Bahria University, Karachi, Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Attack, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi,  Institute of Space and Technology Islamabad, Kinnaird College For Women, Lahore College of Women University, Lahore, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences Islamabad, University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, University of Malakand, and University Of Sargodah, Sargodah.

              Mariam Chughtai, Ed.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education, moderated the discussion, and Meena Hewett, Executive Director of SAI gave an introduction. Erum SattarSJD Candidate, Harvard Law School, tracked the discussion on social media.

              Click here to view all tweets from the discussion on Twitter.

              Click here to view a recording of the whole webinar.

              Click here to learn more about SAI’s upcoming webinars.

              SAI’s webinars are made possible with the support of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).

                Preserving a culture through language

                Harvard is a long way from rural Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh, but that hasn’t stopped Maung Nyeu, currently an Ed.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, from trying to make a difference for children there.

                SAI talked with Nyeu about his work with Our Golden Hour, a nonprofit working to improve educational opportunities for indigenous children in Bangladesh and to preserve indigenous culture through education.

                The tumultuous history of Bangladesh means that for many children, getting a good education is not a reality. Chittagong Hill Tracts is a mountainous, rural area where many indigenous people live; a population that is distinct in language, culture, and religion from the majority of the Bengali population.

                Increasing militarization in the region has led to traditional farmlands being given to incoming Bengali settlers, and according to Amnesty International, tens of thousands of people are landless because of the failure of the Bangladeshi government to uphold the legal rights of the lands in this area and not recognize indigenous people. As a result, many people are internally displaced.

                This has led to violent clashes between local people and Bengali settlers –  a life of massacres, village burnings, and girls being sold into the sex trade, hardly the environment that ensures a quality education for many children. More than half of the residents have no formal schooling.

                Children in Chittagong Hill Tracts

                Moreover, one of the biggest problems blocking children from attending school is a language barrier. As a result of the government’s one-language policy, most of the instruction is in Bangla, which most children in Hill Tracts do not know. Unable to keep up with an education in a language that is not native to them, many children drop out.

                Nyeu himself grew up in Hill Tracts, and was able to break the cycle by being educated at American universities, first getting a degree in engineering, and then an MBA from the University of Southern California. He knew first-hand the obstacles facing children in the area, and set out to make a difference: “I realized that, these children, growing up without any education, their future is robbed of them without any fault of their own. They are victims,” he says.

                After his education in the US, he returned to his home region and built the Padmau Residential Education Center, which provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged children so that they can go to school in their own indigenous language. He says that the demand for an education was so high, that he had to turn some students away because of a lack of resources. He launched a nonprofit, Our Golden Hour, and continued to look for ways to help children in Hill Tracts.

                He recognized that many students were missing out on a quality education because the government was not providing adequate schools in rural areas, which forced children to go far from their family for an education. Nyeu focused on building more schools for children in younger grades close to rural villages, so that students do not have to leave their homes and families or walk long distances to get an education.

                Through his work with this school, he developed a deeper understanding of the challenges facing children in the region. He realized that the language problem was not only hurting kids in their education – it was a barrier to preserving their culture.

                Nyeu realized that not only are children not being instructed in their native language, they are also being taught with content that is not culturally relevant to their own indigenous culture. “When we lose a language, we don’t just lose what we speak,” Nyeu says. “There is also all of the wisdom that is passed down through generations.”

                An example of a children’s book that was translated to English

                While talking to locals about this problem, he found that it was a concern for many people. He recalls one woman telling him, ‘‘Language isn’t just a tool for communication – it’s how our ancestors speak to us. It’s how we learn meaning in the world.” Without a space where their culture and language is nurtured, Nyeu said that these people are gradually losing their culture.

                Nyeu then realized that his education initiatives could help solve this problem. He launched the Oral History Project, which is working to solve this problem by ingeniously making children ‘co-creators’ in their education, which is also a focus of his dissertation research at HGSE.

                His method asks teachers to give their students an assignment: Interview their grandfather, grandmother, or an elder and ask them to tell the student a story, which they share at school. Someone records the presentation, and travels to the nearest town with computer access and sends the video to the team at Harvard.

                Nyeu then translates the story into English, and works with a children’s book author and illustrator to create a beautiful, colorful children’s story that goes back to the classrooms in Bangladesh. This allows teachers to instruct students about their own culture, in their own language. These are stories that have been passed down orally for hundreds of years, and are for the first time printed in books.

                A wood carving of an indigenous language, which is brought to classroom in Bangladesh

                For example, Nyeu says that he now has a physical book telling a story that he heard countless times from his grandmother as a child. This is strengthening the culture for generations to come. “If the children grow up learning the language, learning to speak and write in the language, and developing a sense of confidence about their culture and language, after some years, they will become a teacher in our school, and they will educate the next generation of students,” he says.

                Through his work with Our Golden Hour, Nyeu is not only giving children of Hill Tracts a valuable education, he is saving their lives. The name for his charity reflects this idea: “In the ER, this is common knowledge among physicians: If someone has an accident, if you can bring the person to the emergency room within 1 to 2 hours of the incident, the probability of saving life and preventing long-term damage increases 70 to 90 percent,” he says.

                “For our children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, we saw that if the child doesn’t go to school within 5 to 11 years [of age], this is a window. So for our children, these 5 to 11 years, it is a Golden Hour,” he explains. “If we need to save them, this is why we need to bring them to school and get them an education.”

                Read more about Our Golden Hour here.

                  Call for papers: Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry

                  The organizing committee of the annual Harvard University Seminar on Bangladesh invites you to attend the International Seminar on ‘Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry’ on Saturday, June 14th, 2014 at Harvard University.  The day-long seminar is being organized jointly by South Asia Institute at Harvard, Harvard University Center for Environment and International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), Inc. and South Asian students and professionals at Harvard Medical School, HSPH, Harvard Law School and Harvard College.

                  The objective of this year’s seminar is to explore the linkages among development, garment sector and environmental health and safety issues in low-income economies, with a focus on Bangladesh.  It will highlight the actors and factors that impinge on this linkage at national and global levels. The deliberation will explore how the development partners can more effectively facilitate and assist in solving the key problems for sustaining the competitiveness of the Bangladesh garment industry. How to enhance the role of international community and experts for practical solutions will be a topic of discussion.

                  The seminar plans to bring together experts, industry people, NGO representatives and practitioners from development agencies and high level policy makers from Bangladesh and USA. Participants will include representatives from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), workers rights groups, international organizations such as the ILO, United Nations Agencies, and representatives from international financial institutions.

                  The organizing committee welcomes papers and presentations dealing with aspects of the global economy, garment industry, trade and development in the context of Bangladesh garments and apparel industry and the role of international community and development partners.

                  For further information, please contact:
                  Mohammed Iqbal Yousuf
                  Coordinator
                  Tel: 617-416-9036
                  E-mail:  mohammed_yousuf@dfci.harvard.edu

                    Professor Eck awarded Honorary Doctorate from SOAS

                    Diana Eck receiving her Honorary Doctorate from SOAS

                    On July 26,  Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity by the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, at its graduation ceremonies in London. She was introduced to the Faculty and students by Professor Gurharpal Singh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Professor in Inter-Religious Relations and Development. Her citation commended both her work on India and on the South Asian diaspora communities of America, especially the Pluralism Project and its focus on the challenges of religious diversity.

                    In  her address to the graduates, Professor Eck spoke about her own time at SOAS as a Fulbright scholar and a master’s degree student in the 1960s, recalling especially the life of the Common Room, with students from all over Asia, from the Middle East and Africa. She noted how much the world has changed in the decades since then, with the revolutions in communication and all that is signaled by “globalization.” In these years, SOAS has also grown into one of the premier centers in the world for the study of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

                    “But over these years, some things have hardly changed at all. Deep differences –economic, political, and religious—continue to fracture and divide the world, locally and globally. We understand one another too little. The globalization of our conscience and consciousness is still underdeveloped. Our ignorance and prejudice circle the globe along with our credit card numbers and our greenhouse gases.”

                    “It is this,” she said, “that makes your work as SOAS graduates essential to the world we live in today and more urgent than ever before. Diversity is just a fact, but pluralism is a creation. It is the achievement of a place like SOAS.  It is forged by the engagement across differences of cultures and continents that you have found here; it is forged by the energies on display in the SOAS Common Room, by the relationships you have made, and by the intellectual strengths you have found here. In the world in which we all live today, you are lucky to be graduates of this place. Negotiating difference, creating the infrastructure of pluralism, is both a global and local challenge.  It is your challenge as citizens of a fast-changing interdependent and complex world.

                    Read more.

                     

                      Harvard South Asia Alumni Events

                      The South Asia Institute has held several alumni events this summer, connecting alums with current and incoming students and faculty in Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi, and Lahore. A snapshot of the events are below. Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the various locations.

                      Dhaka, Bangladesh

                      On July 17, SAI organized a casual dinner in Dhaka for local Harvard community with Professor Richard Cash, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health. Professor Cash is a visiting lecturer at the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University. Attendants included alumni Moushumi Khan (HKS), Francisco Flores (HSPH), and Hector Soliman (HSPH). Several current students are in Dhaka for the summer with exciting internships also were present, inclujding Fan Li (HLS), who working with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, and Eric Duniplace and Christine Simon (both HSPH) who are with the Population Council. Maria May, SAI’s consultant in Dhaka, was also present at the event.

                      Delhi, India

                      SAI, along with the Harvard Club of Delhi and the Harvard India Student Group, hosted One Harvard Young Harvard, an alumni and current student networking night on July 18th .The evening included presentations by Pravin H. Parekh, President of the Harvard Club of India, Nora Maginn, SAI Programs Manager, Ishani Mehta, President of the Harvard India Student Group and HKS student.

                      Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan

                      SAI, along with the the HBS Club of Pakistan and the Harvard Pakistan Student Group, hosted alumni dinners in Karachi and Lahore on July 2nd and 4th, respectively. As a special guest at the dinners, Meena Sonea Hewett, SAI Executive Director, met with more than 50 alumni and current students. Attendees included SAI summer interns along with other Harvard students in the country.

                       

                        Alumni Event with Richard Cash in Dhaka

                        Richard Cash (right) with students and alumniDhaka, Bangladesh

                        On July 17, SAI organized a casual dinner in Dhaka for local Harvard community with Professor Richard Cash, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health. Professor Cash is a visiting lecturer at the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University. Attendants included alumniMoushumi Khan (HKS),Francisco Flores (HSPH), and Hector Soliman (HSPH). Several current students are in Dhaka for the summer with exciting internships also were present, inclujding Fan Li (HLS), who working with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, and Eric Duniplace and Christine Simon (both HSPH) who are with the Population Council.Maria May, SAI’s consultant in Dhaka, was also present at the event.

                          Harvard South Asia Week, April 8-12

                          The India & South Asia Program at Harvard Kennedy School announces the Harvard South Asia week from April 8 to 12. Speakers include Cameron Munter, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Shyam Saran, Former Foreign Secretary to India, Rajiv ChandrasekaranSenior Correspondent and Associate Editor, Washington Post, Ashok GadgilUniversity of California, Berkeley, and Robert Blake, U.S. Assistant Secretary, South and Central Asian Affairs.

                          SAI will cosponsor the lecture with Ashok Gadgil on ‘Solutions for the Bottom 2 Billion‘ as part of our Social Enterprise Seminar Series.

                            Troublemakers: Entrepreneurial Approaches Against Corruption

                            What does the “business” of corruption-fighting look like? What are the key challenges and how does one measure successes? Corruption is the top issue in emerging market economies — and transparency is the most potent tool available to combat corruption. In a video conference with thirteen sites in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (see list below), Professor Karthik Ramanna of Harvard Business School described his recent work on how entrepreneurs in China, Russia, and India built organizations to combat corruption. These entrepreneurs have leveraged transparency in their anti-corruption businesses, although they differ in important ways in their reliance on the Internet, their use of anonymity, and their engagement with local political and cultural institutions.

                             

                            In China, Professor Ramanna talked about Caijing Magazine, which works within the Chinese elite to enforce accountability from a privileged near-insider position. Learn more about the case here. In Russia, Rospil.info is a crowd-sourced website that uses the anonymity of the internet to fearlessly enforce anti-corruption and whistleblowing with a much greater militancy. In just over a year, Rospil claims it has prevented $1.5 billion in bribes. Learn more about the case here. Finally, Profsesor Ramanna discussed the website ipaidabribe.com, based in India (though there are sites in several other countries). The website encourages people to report bribes they have paid or resisted paying.

                            Common themes from these three examples include the use of transparency as a tool against corruption, the Internet as a key vehicle for this transparency, and the deployment of transparency is contextualized by political/cultural barriers.

                            Professor Ramanna then opened the discussion to questions and input from participants on what entrepreneurial corruption-fighting in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka might look like.


                            Read the Harvard Gazette Coverage of this event.

                             

                            To follow the conversation on twitter, check out #SAItroublemakers.

                            The participating sites included:

                            Bangladesh:

                            BRAC University, Dhaka

                            Pakistan:

                            Foundation for Advancement of Science and Technology (FAST), Lahore

                            Higher Education Commission (HEC), Islamabad

                            Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore

                            Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi

                            College of Business Management (CBM), Karachi

                            University of Gujrat, Gujrat

                            COMSATS Institute of Science and Technology (CIIT), Lahore

                            University of Agriculture, Faisalabad

                            Karachi School for Business & Leadership (KSBL), Karachi

                            QuaId-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad

                            Forman Christian College University (FCCU), Lahore

                            Sri Lanka:

                            American Center, Colombo

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                              Invitation and Call for Papers

                              International Seminar on the Environment – Development Relationship in Bangladesh

                              Saturday, April 13, 2013 from 9 AM – 5 PM

                              Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA

                               

                              This event will explore how the development partners can more effectively assist countries like Bangladesh in their leap into the middle income status. Also how to enhance the role of international community in this endeavor will come up for discussion in the seminar. The organizing committee requests for your  attendance and welcomes papers dealing with all aspects of environment-development in the context of South Asia including a wide variety of topics like natural disasters, climate and weather, water sharing, public health, climate change refugees, government policies and the role of international organizations and development partners.

                               

                              To register or submit a paper, please contact Mohammed Iqbal Yousuf, Co-ordinator (E-mail:  mohammed_yousuf@dfci.harvard.edu or call 617-416-9036)

                               Organized by South Asian students and professionals at the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, and Harvard College

                              Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute at Harvard University

                                HSPH students in Bangladesh

                                On January 19th, SAI and Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) co-hosted an afternoon tea to introduce visiting Harvard School of Public Health students to Harvard alumni and local leaders in development and education.  The students shared their reflections on a very busy visit, which had included a few trips into rural Bangladesh for fun and to see some of the projects contributing to the country’s impressive gains in public health in recent years.

                                Local participants in the event included Professor Omar Rahman, Vice Chancellor of IUB and leader of the local HAA chapter, Ms. Nasim Ferdous, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Alliance for Women Leadership, Mr. Mosharraf Hossain, Country Director of Action on Disability and Development International, and Professor Fahima Aziz, Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women in Chittagong.  Several recent alumni, including Mridul Chowdhury and Rubayat Khan (HKS), also attended.

                                  TiE Delhi-NCR and Omidyar Network Host Affordable Healthcare Summit

                                  November 30, 2012 – Speakers include David Bangsberg, Director of International Programs at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of the International Program for the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research and Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health, Asif Saleh, Senior Director of Strategy, Communications and Capacity Division at SAI’s partner BRAC and BRAC International, and Maria May, Program Consultant, SAI Dhaka. Learn more here.

                                    BYLC Leadership Workshop Graduation Ceremony – Dhaka

                                    Participants of a three-day national workshop on leadership developed and offered by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), the country’s first leadership institute, and supported by the Canadian High Commission in Bangladesh, were awarded certificates at a graduation reception held at the Canadian High Commissioner’s official residence on Saturday, November 24, 2012. The event was organized by Harvard Kennedy School Alum Ejaj Ahmad. Click here for more.