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.
It’s not too early to think about what you’ll be doing over Winter Session. Consider applying for a SAI winter grant. Deadline: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Application details: http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu/winter/
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.
Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan
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 Chandrasekaran, Senior Correspondent and Associate Editor, Washington Post, Ashok Gadgil, University 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.
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.
To follow the conversation on twitter, check out #SAItroublemakers.
The participating sites included:
BRAC University, Dhaka
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
American Center, Colombo
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: email@example.com 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
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.
After fifty years of development efforts, 80 per cent of states are still at low, stagnating or failing levels of capabilities. Why? What could be done better?
Professor Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School gave a public lecture at Brac Development Institute on Sunday, December 2, 2012.
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.
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.
Last week, SAI Regional Coordinator Maria May was one of 1,800 participants in the second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research held in Beijing, China. Much of the conversation centered on achieving universal health coverage, and both Bangladesh and India were highlighted for progress and innovation towards achieving this goal. Several Harvard faculty, including Drs. Peter Berman, Richard Cash, and Bill Hsiao presented on their research. One evening, the Harvard School of Public Health sponsored a alumni and faculty reception that approximately twenty people attended. Maria presented a poster on BRAC’s combination approach to community health workers. BRAC University was one of the co-sponsors of the event.
Learn more about the conference here:
Are you interested in providing an internship opportunity for a Harvard student?
Please considering becoming a SAI partnered organization to offer summer internships to Harvard undergraduate and graduate students. Organizations in various sectors, (health, government, education, microfinance, social enterprise, etc.) are welcome to fill out this survey. SAI will advertise these opportunities on our website, newsletter, and through outreach events on Harvard’s campus.
Please contact us if you have questions about the SAI Internship program!
To further its presence in Bangladesh, Harvard’s South Asia Initiative is working with BRAC, a Bangladeshi organization recognized as a leader the world efforts to alleviate poverty.
BRAC provides SAI with information from the frontlines, keeping it up-to-date on emerging issues and local dialog. In addition, the partnership facilitates connections between local organizations and Harvard students and faculty. BRAC organizes many events to catalyze exchange and bilateral learning between the Harvard community and Bangladesh.
In early March, members of Dhaka’s Harvard community met at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka. Shazzad Hoshen Khan, an emerging Bengali artist, was present to discuss his work on exhibition. Attendants included Ms. Ferdous Begum, former Director General for Bangladesh TV and several alumni working in development.
At left: Ms. Ferdous Ara Begum, HKS alumna, with her niece, joined Maria May, Harvard FAS alumna and SAI Coordinator, and Alayne Adams, HSPH alumna at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka.
SAI Associate Director Meena Hewett traveled to Bangladesh in January, 2012. She spoke at a Harvard Alumni Club Event on Friday, January 20, 2012, along with the Chief Guest of the gathering, Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Bir Bikram, Advisor to the Honourable Prime Minister.
The Daily News, Bangladesh, published this brief of the account, which was also covered on local television.