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News Category: News


Seed for Change Q+A: Torr Energy


Torr Energy presents their idea at SAI's original pitch competition

Torr Energy presents their idea at SAI’s original pitch competition

This is the first in a series of profiles on the student finalists in SAI’s Seed For Change Competition. On May 6, finalists will pitch their ideas to a judging panel for the chance to with a $40,000 grant to implement their idea in India.

May 6, 3:15PM: Seed For Change Finalists Presentations

Soujanya Ganig, Ed. M Candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education and SAI Student Coordinator, recently spoke with Kasey Wang, Harvard Law School student, about Torr Energy, a for-profit company that uses a series of technologies and a unique model to produce and sell low-cost waste-derived solid fuel in remote areas.

SAI: Can you tell us how you first developed the idea for Torr Energy?

Kasey Wang: Clean energy is something that I am passionate about. My father had worked on hydroelectric power with China’s Three Gorges Dam and also on solar power in the United States. Later, when I worked in Congress, I saw how the BP Oil Spill of 2010 harmed the people and environment in its vicinity, and I worked on wave energy and other replacement energy initiatives. This concern about energy and the environment encouraged me to apply to an Energy Ventures class, where I met Kevin, and through him, my other teammates Swati and Zach. Kevin had first conceived of the beginnings of Torr Energy when he visited India and saw the immense amount of waste lying around. I look forward to continuing to work with my teammates to harness renewable energy from agricultural waste in India to improve the lives of those who need it the most.

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    TedX: Lessons from Kumbh Mela – Worlds Largest Gathering of Humanity


    Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann professor at Harvard Business School, delivered the following TEDx talk in Mumbai in December about SAI’s project on the Kumbh Mela.

    A diverse group of scholars and practitioners from Harvard University travelled to the 2013 Kumbh Mela, the largest collection of humanity on the face of the earth, with the idea that this 1400-year-old event could teach us something about contemporary challenges. The lessons learned at the Kumbh Mela and the flexible, minimalist platform that it was set up on, provided practical insights to current challenges around the world, such as the present refugee crisis.

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      Student voices: Nepal’s electricity crisis


      This is part of a recurring series in which we share reports from Harvard students who have traveled to South Asia with support from a SAI grant during the winter session.

      Click here to read more reports from students.

      shresta

      Cars line up on the wrong side of the road for petrol on a long-awaited Monday morning

      By Anne Shrestha, MPA-ID ’16 Harvard Kennedy School
      Research work for Second Year Policy Analysis: Electricity Crisis in Nepal

      Going home this time was difficult but important. Difficult because the state of Nepal –post-earthquake, amidst a worsening trade blockade that has already lasted four months –was palpably crippled and painful to acknowledge, especially considering the government’s woeful response to both the disasters, both the natural one and the one of its own long-time making. This time was important because it made for a good time to search for answers and speak with experts regarding my paper on failures in hydropower development and the electricity crisis in Nepal. But more importantly, experiencing this allowed me to be on the inside of the crisis; it added weight to my understanding in ways that no amount of news could.

      Continue reading →

        Seed For Change Q+A: The Craftsmen


        This is the first in a series of profiles on the student finalists in SAI’s Seed For Change Competition. On May 6, finalists will pitch their ideas to a judging panel for the chance to with a $40,000 grant to implement their idea in India.

        May 6, 3:15PM: Seed For Change Finalists Presentations

        Soujanya GanigEd. M Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education; SAI Student Coordinator recently spoke with Aaron David Mendonca of The Craftsmen, a small forest enterprise facilitator that creates new value chains, provides year-round employment, and trains communities in sustainable harvesting practices.

        Aaron David Mendonca presents at the Seed For Change initial pitch event in March.

        Aaron David Mendonca presents at the Seed For Change initial pitch event in March.

        SAI: Can you tell us how you first developed the idea of The Craftsmen?

        Aaron David Mendonca: For a while now I have been thinking about how as architects we are taught to design centers of concentration – buildings and cities – but not the vast backgrounds that support them. We tend to focus our design efforts on places towards which materials and energy flow and concentrate but not the places from where such resources are subtracted. So, with wood construction in mind, I began an accounting exercise to test the mathematics of purchasing the materials to build a building versus investing in the land from where those materials might originate. Thus I began to gauge the state of Forest Practice in India and the policy that aims at conservation. And, In the process discovered how mechanisms of cooperation lead to regulation and restriction. I became aware of the ways in which top-town forest management efforts had become counter effective through the undue pressures they exert on forest dwellers. It was clear then that forest stewardship might be approached through livelihood creation so that forest communities could be economically empowered to steward their dynamic, far from equilibrium ecosystems.

        The Craftsmen essentially converts collector economies into craftsmen economies towards year round economic activity that engages modern sensibility with age old sensitivity.

        Continue reading →

          SAI hosts visual artist Milan Rai


          Milan Rai, left, with Jinah Kim

          Milan Rai, left, with Jinah Kim

          From April 10-15, SAI hosted Milan Rai, a visual artist from Nepal, at Harvard, as SAI’s fourth Visiting Artist of the year. Rai’s White Butterfly project is a demonstration of how the role of art can take different turns when shared across social media, connecting people and communities to effect social change and awareness. Those connections became an unexpected source of support and real change in rapid response to the earthquake disasters in Nepal this year, initiating funding projects for immediate relief to provide sanitation facilities, toilets rebuilding a school and relocating an entire village.

          During his time at Harvard, Rai gave a public talk about the project and spread his white butterflies around campus. Rai also visited the courses ‘Introduction to Social Movements’ taught by Jocelyn Viterna, FAS, ‘Himalayan Art,’ taught by Jinah Kim, FAS, ‘Landmarks of World Architecture’ taught by Joseph Connors, FAS, ‘Social Change in the Digital Age,’ taught by Jesse Littlewood, HKS, ‘Muslim Devotional Literatures in South Asia’ taught by Ali Asani, FAS, and ‘Art, Design, and Learning in Public Spaces,’ taught by Steven Seidel, FAS. He also visited Harvard’s museums, and several in the Greater Boston area.

          SAI’s Visiting Artist Program brings emerging artists from South Asia to Harvard’s campus, to engage with Harvard students, faculty, and community members.

           

          Click here to view photos from Rai’s visit.

           

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            Student voices: The exhilaration of breaking news


            This is part of a recurring series in which we share reports from Harvard students who have traveled to South Asia with support from a SAI grant during the winter session.

            Click here to read more reports from students.

            Shaiba Rather, Harvard College ‘17
            Internship with NDTV in India

            This winter break, I was as up to date on the news as I ever have been and probably ever will be. As a research intern for New Delhi Television (NDTV), I read every Indian national paper, Kashmiri local papers, and even top US headlines. NDTV demanded that I constantly be informed of India’s happenings; it was challenging but surely rewarding. NDTV put me in an environment where my team members urged be to desire to know more.

            The command center from which the editing staff would piece together the final show layout

            The command center from which the editing staff would piece together the final show layout

            I spent my month working behind Barkha Dutt, not only one of NDTV’s lead anchors but also one of the program’s editors. Ms. Dutt is best known for her coverage of the Kargil War and her frequent shows on Kashmir. Ms. Dutt has not only received numerous accolades as the Best Talk Show host but also earned a civilian honor from the government of India. To even start to work on her show, “The Buck Stops Here,” was intimidating to say the least.

            To my relief, Ms. Dutt greeted me with a smile and a hug, transforming a TV legend into a friend. We shared our achievements and ambitions and then it was off to work. My primary role was as a research assistant. My job was to always make sure Ms. Dutt could do her job. After reading any and every newspaper I could get my hands on for the day, I would prep Ms. Dutt with the days happenings. We would quickly determine what the show’s focus for the evening would be, and then everything was a blur from there. People would carry two phones at a time and call whomever they could, trying to find the perfect panelists. We’d brainstorm clever show titles and impactful sub-titles. It was a crazed last second dash but by 9pm every Tuesday and Thursday, we’d have a show.

            Continue reading →

              2016 Student Summer Grants


              Richard_Tyler_3SAI offers a variety of learning opportunities in South Asia for Harvard students through its grants program. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for research grants to support independent research and thesis field work. SAI has partnered with over 50 organizations in South Asia to offer internships to Harvard students.

              SAI has awarded grants for summer research, internship, and language study in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka during the summer.

              Learn more about SAI grants.

               

              Graduate Internship Grants

              Yoko Okura, MPP, HKS 2017
              Enhancing community capacity in resilience in the recovery process of Nepal

              Graduate Language Study Grants

              Lee Ling Ting, PhD, FAS 2021
              AIIS Summer Language Program (Sanskrit)

              Iris Yellum, PhD, FAS 2017
              Tamil Language Study at American Institute of Indian Studies in Madurai, Tamil Nadu

              Sonali Dhingra, PhD, FAS 2019
              Funding for Odia (Oriya) Language Program at AIIS Summer Program 2016 Continue reading →

                FXB Center Report on Rescue & Reintegration of Trafficked Children in India


                FXB reportFrom the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights:

                India’s Approach to the Rescue and Reintegration of Trafficked Children Marred by Poor Coordination, Lack of Accountability

                Boston, MA – Labor trafficking is a gross violation that affects hundreds of thousands of Indian children each year. Despite the Indian government’s considerable attention to the problem, the rescue and reintegration apparatus is beset by a range of problems that can leave children at risk of further harm, according to a new report published today by Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.

                “Lack of accountability, a lack of coordination between the different agencies, lack of training, lack of support for those working in both the raid contexts where children are initially found and in the home context to which children are returned” are the overarching problems, said Jacqueline Bhabha, research director at the Harvard FXB Center and the project’s principal investigator.

                The report, “Is This Protection? Analyzing India’s Approach to the Rescue and Reintegration of Children Trafficked for Labor Exploitation” provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of the Indian government’s efforts to rescue and reintegrate trafficked children into families and communities.

                [Read the full report.]

                [View a video on the report.]

                Continue reading →

                  April 25-29: South Asia Week at Harvard Kennedy School


                  The annual South Asia Week, co-sponsored by the Future of Diplomacy Project and the South Asia Institute, will feature an influential array of regional practitioners and experts on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This year’s South Asia Week will take place from April 25-29 and will include a simulation exercise. Check back on this page closer to the date formore details.

                  Ambassador Meleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations
                  4/25 – 12:00pm, Nye A

                  Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin of Bangladesh
                  4/26 – 12:00pm Belfer Center Library;

                  Cameron Munter, Former US Ambassador to Pakistan,
                  4/26 – National Security Crisis Simulation 6-9pm; Fainsod (students selected by application)
                  4/27 – Career Event with Diplomacy PIC 8:30am  Nye C

                  Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookings Instistute Senior Fellow
                  4/27; (private event for 8 students)-9:00am Littauer 150

                  Helga Schmid – Deputy Secretary General for the External Action Service
                  4/27 – 4:00pm Belfer Center Library

                  Richard Olson, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
                  4/28;  8:30 – 10:30 Allison Dining Room Chatham House Rules

                  Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
                  4/28 4:00pm CGIS Knafel K262 Bowie-Vernon at Harvard College