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News Category: News

Mass casualty triage

Mass casualty incidents, from terrorist attacks, floodings, earthquakes to bus accidents, are chaotic. With proper knowledge about the principles of triage, even those with no medical training can help.

Mass casualty triage was the topic of SAI’s second webinar of the semester, on Nov. 19, on disaster management with Dr. Usha Periyanayagam (@uperiy), MD, MPH, International Emergency Medicine Fellow, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School.

Eight universities from three countries in South Asia participated in the interactive session, using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), with a participation of around 100 students in South Asia, with many more watching online.

Watch the presentation.

Dr. Periyanayagam has worked with SAI and the Aman Foundation to improve disaster response in Karachi, and has extensive experience in emergency settings around the world.

During the webinar, Dr. Periyanayagam explained that “triage” is not treatment – it is a method of sorting injured people and deciding who gets treatment first. “The goal of triage is doing the greatest good for the greatest number – it’s not doing everything you can for every patient,” Dr. Periyanayagam explained. She cited the 2013 Boston marathon bombing as an example of triage working correctly – of the 250 who were injured, no one who was transported to hospital died.

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    SAI hosts Grants Open House

    Vineet Diwadkar, GSD, talks about his “Modeling Mumbai” project

    On Wednesday, November 19, SAI hosted its annual Summer Grants Opportunities Open House at Harvard. For students with an interest in pursuing opportunities in South Asia, this event was a unique chance for them to engage with previous grant recipients, internship site representatives, and SAI staff, to learn more about potential possibilities for in-region experiences.

    The event kicked off with Program Manager Nora Maginn walking students through the nuts and bolts of applying for a SAI grantDivya Sooryakumar, HGSE, SAI Student Services Intern, then shared some examples of the diverse internship site opportunities available to students, ranging from engineering and design internships to curriculum design projects.

    The attendees then had the opportunity to hear from three internship site representatives: Ryan Draft from the Harvard-Bangalore Science Initiative, Shaun Jayachandran, Founder of the Education Non-Profit Organization, Crossover Basketball, and Myriam Zuber of the FXB Center, a human-rights advocacy campaign.

    The highlight of the evening was hearing from three 2014 grant recipients, Brenna McDuffie, Ian Maccormack and Vineet Diwadkar, who shared their diverse experiences from a SAI grant. Brenna, a senior at Harvard College, spent her summer in a Hindi immersion program in Jaipur, Rajasthan and was able to push her language skills to the next level. Ian Maccormack, a PhD candidate at GSAS shared his journey through Northern India and Nepal to recover ancient Buddhist texts for his dissertation research. Vineet Diwadkar, a master’s candidate at GSD, shared his project, “Modeling Mumbai”, an examination of the inherent tension between low-income housing and the demand for real estate in Mumbai.

    All of the grant recipients repeatedly highlighted the value of the opportunity to be in the region enriching their respective fields of study, research and projects. The event highlighted the diversity of projects, approaches, and interest areas that SAI supports.

    Read: SAI 2014 Student Grant Report


    -Divya Sooryakumar, HGSE, SAI Student Services Intern

      Shaping problem-solvers

      This article originally appeared in the Harvard Gazette

      Course spans disciplines to address social, economic challenges in South Asia


      By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

      Photo courtesy of Ann Wang/Harvard Gazette

      “The existing system in many developing countries is not working for the masses, so almost by definition you need entrepreneurship,” Tarun Khanna said of the social and economic issues facing India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other nations of South Asia.

      Khanna, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and the director of Harvard’s South Asia Institute, leads the Gen Ed course “Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems.” He was speaking just outside Sever 113, where his students were working furiously on plans for improving maternal mortality in one of two places — India’s state of Uttar Pradesh or the Pakistani state of Punjab. A few minutes earlier, they had been presented with two scenarios and a sheet of relevant data, and then given half an hour to brainstorm solutions.

      The scenarios weren’t Khanna’s, but those of Sue J. Goldie, the Roger Irving Lee Professor of Public Health and the director of the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator at Harvard. Goldie is one of a handful of co-instructors who have joined Khanna this semester to lend their expertise in key fields.

      While Goldie has addressed health issues, the Graduate School of Design’sRahul Mehrotra has discussed challenges stemming from urbanism; Conor Walsh, an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has looked at technology; andParimal Patil, a professor of religion and Indian philosophy and the chair of theDepartment of South Asian Studies, is in the middle of four weeks of teaching about solutions enabled by the arts and humanities.

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        2014 Student Grant Report

        SAI offers research and internship grants to Harvard graduate students and Harvard college undergraduate students (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) to be used during the summer and winter sessions.

        In 2014, SAI awarded 46 grants to students to do a variety internships and research projects in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Grant recipients represent the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College, Graduate School of Design, Divinity School, Kennedy School, Medical School, and School of Public Health.

        In the SAI 2014 Grant Report, students reflect on their experience and what they learned.

        Examples of testimonials:

        “I can confidently say that this internship has brought me a long away, from my theoretical conception of environmental policy from Harvard courses, with a deeper understanding of the profession,  practice, and substance of environmental law and policy.”

        -Sabrina Ghouse, Social Studies & Environment, Harvard College 2015; Internship with United Nations Development Programme

        “My visit has allowed me to think more broadly about the relationship between private enterprise and urban planning and design in the context of developing countries.”

        -Justin D. Stern, PhD Candidate, Architecture & Urban Planning, Graduate School of Design; Research: Between Industrialization and Urban Planning: Tata Steel and the Two Faces of Jamshedpur

        “What was originally meant to be a preliminary research trip, morphed into a rather substantial research, far exceeding my expectations.”

        -Lydia Walker, PhD Candidate, Department of History, GSAS; National Separatist Movements in the Early 1960s in South Asia and Southern Africa

        “When my friends and coworkers asked me why I was so delighted to be in the city despite the monstrous heat, I’d say in absolute earnest that I have a big crush on Delhi: on its long afternoons working out some idea for a paper with friends over chai; on its lecture- and music- and addafilled evenings. I hope to return to Delhi after graduation for continued study and research”

        -Reina Gattuso, Literature and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard College 2015; Lokniti Program, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

        “Working with my other lab members, I was able to learn about science and the culture of India simultaneously. In between performing behavioral tests and analyzing our data, we would chitchat about everything from the must-see attractions in India to the country’s education system.”

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          If Ebola comes to India

          This article was originally published in the Indian Express

          By Ashish K Jha, K.T. Li Professor of International Health, Harvard School of Public Health; Director, Harvard Global Health Institute, and Tarun KhannaDirector of the South Asia Institute &
          Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

          With the ongoing spread of Ebola in West Africa, it is becoming increasingly likely that the disease will make its way to India. So what should India do to prepare? The Union government has already taken several meaningful steps. It has designated hospitals in major cities as Ebola management centres and formed rapid response teams in every state, each of which will include physicians, nurses and epidemiologists. The state teams are being trained by the WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and will disseminate their training to local first responders. Also, the government has put in place screening protocols at international airports, established 24-hour Ebola helplines staffed by doctors and shortlisted the authorisation of 10 new Ebola-testing labs.

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            In Memory of John Briscoe

            John presents at SAI’s Symposium in 2011

            The Harvard South Asia Institute is saddened to hear the news that John Briscoe, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environmental Engineering and Environmental Health, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and SAI Steering Committee member, passed away on November 12, 2014.

            John was a passionate scholar with a deep dedication to water issues and development, especially in South Asia, and spent a great amount of time working in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. In April 2014, John was named the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his unparalleled contributions to global and local water management issues.

            “One of the things that we will remember most about John is the way he advised us to think of our work as not bound by borders, but rather that issue-based thinking can span geographies and regions to enrich learning and teaching. This is what John did with his water project, an issue with an immediate urgency for many parts of the world. His approach and perspective will live on in the way that SAI brings together faculty, students, and regional experts across disciplines and borders.”

            Meena Hewett, South Asia Institute Executive Director

            “John was an extremely dynamic individual who combined theory with practice and with a deep sense of the issues of water policy especially in the developing world. He was known world wide as ‘water Briscoe’ and the go-to person on matters of water policy. He was my office neighbor for 5 years and I saw first hand what a dedicated teacher he was. There were always dozens of students from different parts of the campus waiting to see him! A truly wonderful colleague and a very special friend! I will miss him greatly.”

            Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy and Professor of Physics, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

            “Professor John Briscoe was a teacher, a guide, a mentor, and a dear friend. To us, his students at Harvard, whom he led on field study trips of the Indus in Pakistan, he was ‘JB’. His warmth and care infected us and motivated many of us to do advanced studies in water management and development. He taught us to see that as bad as we thought things were, the glass was always ‘half full’. You will be missed John, and we will endeavor to build on your legacy, for those deprived of the full potential of their water resources.”

            - Erum Sattar, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School



              Educating India: One Meal At A Time

              Shridhar Venkat, CEO of the Akshaya Patra Foundation

              By Katherine Curtiss and Divya Sooryakumar, International Education Policy Ed. M Candidates, Harvard Graduate School of Education

              “Think about the last time you were hungry. How long did your hunger last and how did it make you feel?” said Shridhar Venkat, CEO of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, as he started his presentation by viscerally connecting the audience to the student beneficiaries of his foundation.

              On November 5th, 2014, in an event co-hosted by the International Education Policy Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard South Asia Institute, Mr. Venkat discussed the work of the internationally lauded Akshaya Patra Foundation that provides healthy and nutritious mid-day meals to students in the government-run schools in India.

              Hunger and malnourishment plague children across the country. With India home to 40% of the world’s malnourished children and 8.1 million out-of-school children, the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s mid-day meal intervention provides children enrolled in the government schools with at least one nutritionally sound meal per day.

              This mid-day meal is not only often incentive enough for out-of-school children to enroll, but is also equally important for low-income enrolled students who cannot afford a mid-day meal. The foundation operates with a vision that “no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.” Founded in 2000, the Foundation started serving 1,500 students in five schools in Karnataka and today serves 1.4 million students across 10 states. They are now aiming to feed 5 million students.

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                Contemporary South Asia Student Blog: Global Health, pt. 2

                This is the fourth blog post in a weekly series from students enrolled in the course ‘Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems’ co-taught by SAI Director Tarun Khanna. The course features several modules on issues facing South Asia: Urbanism, Technology and Education, Health, and Humanities.

                This week’s focus: Health, led by Sue Goldie, Harvard School of Public Health


                By Siddarth Nagaraj, MALD Candidate, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,Tufts University

                How does one create standards to assess the collective health of a society? We examined the difficulty of determining the usefulness of different data in our second week of lectures with Professor Sue Goldie of the School of Public Health. Traditional measures of public health are often standardized across countries and used to shape policy agendas at the national and international level.

                The widespread use of maternal and child mortality ratios in public health data collection has encouraged governments to prioritize efforts to lower corresponding figures within their domains, but the interpretation of these measures as key indicators of public health can limit one’s understanding of factors that must be taken into consideration when crafting an intervention.

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                  Capturing South Asia: Interview with Pablo Bartholomew

                  Bartholomew speaks about Indian photography at his seminar on Nov. 5

                  Indian photographer Pablo Bartholomew, whose career spans 40 years, has witnessed many of South Asia’s tragedies and triumphs – perhaps most famously the gas tragedy in Bhopal

                  Bartholomew was the first artist to come to Harvard as part of SAI’s new Arts Initiative, which brings experienced and emerging artists to Cambridge whose work focus is on social issues related to South Asia, with support from the Donald T. Regan Lecture Fund. His works have been published in the New York TimesNewsweekTimeBusiness Week, and National Geographic.

                  Bartholomow spoke at two SAI events during his week at Harvard. In a seminar on Nov. 4, ‘Anatomy of a Man-Made Disaster: Thirty Years Later, Remembering the Bhopal Gas Tragedy’, he spoke about his first-hand experience documenting the world’s worst industrial disaster. In A Personalized History of Indian Photography, 1880 to 2010,  Bartholomow took the audience on a photographic journey in which he shared a collection of Indian photographers who have influenced him.

                  Bartholomew’s exhibit Coded Elegance will be on display at Harvard until Jan. 31, 2015 (CGIS South Concourse, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA; Open to the public Mondays-Thursdays 7am – 9pm; Fridays 7am – 7pm.) Coded Elegance is a series of ethno-anthropological photographs of tribes and people of the hills and valleys of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur, taken from 1989 to 2000.

                  READ: Audience reactions to Bartholomew’s photography.


                  During his visit to Harvard, SAI sat down with Bartholomew to discuss his photo exhibit, the aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy, how photojournalism is changing, and how his South Asian heritage has influenced his work:

                  Bartholomew’s photo from Bhopal won the 1984 World Press Photo of the Year.
                  All rights reserved, Pablo Bartholomew

                  SAI: You said in your seminar on Bhopal that you viewed the victims’ lack of compensation as a “collective failure of the media.” What would success have looked like to you?

                  PB: Well, success for Bhopal would have been ten times, or a hundred times the volume of money, and the money actually reaching the victims and cutting out all the fraud, red tape, and all the corruption. That’s one part of it. The other, if there was a lot more money and a vision, then the cleanup, which is equally important, could have been completed at a very early stage.

                  Right now they don’t know what to do with all the chemicals sitting in there. It could have environmental consequences and health issues. There is talk about creating a dump to get rid of the chemicals – but where is that dump going to be? How is it going to be contained? So it’s one of those industrial issues, a modern contemporary issue, that is the same thing as what’s happened in Japan [the earthquake in Fukushima].

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                    Expert Pushes for Cost-Effective Design in India

                    This article originally appeared in the Harvard Crimson.

                    By Caleb O. Shelburne, Crimson Contributing Writer

                    Photo courtesy of the Crimson / Jennifer Yao

                    Drawing from first-hand research, professor Vikram C. Bhatt discussed urbanization in India on Monday evening at the Center for Government and International Studies, advocating for a more innovative, cost-effective design strategy.

                    The lecture, sponsored by the South Asia Institute and India GSD, focused on concerns about urban design and the suggestion that certain aspects of the design of slums can be more efficient than planned housing.

                    Bhatt cited growing urban populations in India as a serious problem that has necessitated a unique design approach.“Governments must understand [that] the broad urban landscape of India has turned into slums,” he said.

                    A professor of architecture at McGill University, Bhatt argued that the traditional approach to low-income housing projects is too theoretical and overlooks the basic question of how inhabitants actually use space. In offering an alternative solution, Bhatt introduced the concept of a “jugaad” city. The term refers to innovative design hacks that solve technical problems with limited resources.

                    “They are very nimble, these groups of people,” Bhatt said. “An urban landscape is a mix of all these strands.”

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