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News Category: News

The Passing of an Idealist

APJ Abdul Kalam, right, with Tarun Khanna, center, and Harvard president Drew Faust, left

By Tarun KhannaDirector of the South Asia Institute & Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

This post was originally published on Linkedin.

The passing of the 11th President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, has triggered an outpouring of affection. The so-called “missile man,” named after his former career as a scientist and researcher involved with India’s space and missile programs, was popularly also called the People’s President.

This outpouring prompted me to reflect on the two recent occasions I had to meet the man. The first was in the fall of 2011 at Harvard, when the South Asia Institute invited him to give our annual Mahindra Lecture to the community. Above is a photograph of the President meeting Professor Drew Faust, the President of Harvard (and I’m, rightly, in the background!).

During this visit, I remember several interactions between President Kalam and varied audiences at Harvard. We had asked whether he’d be willing to speak more than once, and I remember that he accepted with alacrity, none of the fuss that seems to come with celebrities. There was a public talk to the Cambridge community, the highlight of the visit available here.

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    Harvard For Nepal online photo exhibition

    As part of SAI’s Harvard For Nepal initiative, SAI has launched an online photo exhibit to document the country’s reconstruction process.

    We invite Harvard affiliates to submit photos taken while in Nepal by emailing Meghan Smith,, or on social media using the hashtag #HarvardforNepal.


      Reflections on India’s future

      By Kathleen Molony, Director, Fellows Program, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

      The Fellows of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) concluded their year at Harvard with a one week trip to India in May 2015. As the largest research center within Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Weatherhead Center annually invites outstanding senior-level practitioners of international affairs to the University.

      While at Harvard, Fellows pursue a research project, among other scholarly activities. As part of their experience, the Fellows Program occasionally organizes an international study trip for the purposes of introducing the Fellows to an important and influential country. This year’s choice of India was a logical one, given the presence of a Fellow from India, Shreyas Navare. Harvard’s South Asia Institute and the Mumbai-based Harvard India Research Center helped plan the trip.

      The official meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi included a briefing on US-India relations with Walter Douglas, head of public affairs for the US Mission India; a conversation with Mr. Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Joint Secretary (Americas) Ministry of External Affairs; and a briefing from UK High Commissioner to India and 2006-2007 WCFIA Fellow Sir James Bevan.

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        Update on SAI’s mobile technology summer program

        During this 8-week summer program in India, Harvard College students are exploring the potential of mobile technology to enable economic and social mobility. They spent the first few weeks of the summer program in Ahmedabad and Delhi, where they visited organizations that are using the technology in innovative ways, and learning from experts from a variety of fields.

        Visit our blog for more!

          SAI welcomes new Program Coordinator

          SAI is excited to welcome Diana Nguyen to the SAI team as our Program Coordinator! Diana will work with the team in Cambridge to provide support for SAI’s many faculty and student programs, and assist with SAI’s grant applications process.

          Diana graduated from Harvard College in 2015 concentrating in Government with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights and a citation in French. At the college she was heavily involved in various projects related to the Asian Pacific Islander American community, from supporting the efforts to establish the Harvard Students for Myanmar to advocating for more Asian American Studies courses. She is originally from Southern California and enjoys listening to podcasts and hosting small get togethers.

            Saving a culture, book by book

            Maung Nyeu holds up the storybooks he has published for children in rural Bangladesh

            Storybooks can capture a child’s imagination, teach moral lessons, and provide hours of entertainment. Maung Nyeu, Ed.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has demonstrated that storybooks can do something else: preserve a culture.

            Through his work with Our Golden Hour, which he launched in 2012, Maung has become an advocate for bringing culturally relevant storybooks to children in his native Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, and will continue this summer with support from a SAI summer grant.

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              Update from the Harvard Alumni Group in Nepal: Improving institutions

              Krishna Gyawali, right

              The Harvard Alumni Group of Nepal held its monthly meeting on June 10, 2015 in Kathmandu. Mr. Krishna Gyawali, a member of the alumni group and former secretary of the Government of Nepal, gave a talk on “Implementability of Plans and Reforms in Nepal’s Political Economy Context.”

              Gyawali, drawing from his extensive experiences in government, focused on government and governance. He discussed four basic contexts through which to view government: the political economy context, institutional capability context, behavioural context and the way forward.

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                Contribute to the Harvard For Nepal online photo exhibit

                Harvard for Nepal is a university-wide initiative launched by the Harvard South Asia Institute that aims to unite Harvard in response to the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April 2015.

                In order to continue to bring attention to the country’s needs, SAI is building an online photo exhibit to document the reconstruction process. We invite Harvard affiliates (faculty, students, alums, staff, fellows) to submit photos taken while in Nepal.The Flickr album will become public once we have a sizable collection.

                Our hope is that this archive can grow throughout the reconstruction process and shed light on the important work that Harvard affiliates are conducting on the ground.

                You can submit photos directly to us by emailing Meghan Smith, Please include the location the photo was taken, your affiliation, and any other background information or story. Please also share photos on social media using the hashtag #HarvardforNepal.

                Nepal Research and Reconstruction Fund

                  Call for applications: Program for Emerging Artists from South Asia











                  About: The Harvard University South Asia Institute’s Arts Initiative welcomes applications from emerging artists in South Asia to come to Harvard University to participate in discourse with students and faculty on critical issues.

                  The Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. SAI’s Arts Initiative serves as a resource across all disciplines to explore critical issues of South Asia through the lens of art and design.

                  Two artists will be selected for the academic year, including one fall artist and one spring artist. Selected artists will be invited to Harvard University in Cambridge, Ma for four days (a mutually convenient time will be decided upon by the selected artist and SAI). While our visiting emerging artists are on campus, SAI will support events and exhibits organized in collaboration with specific Harvard departments and faculty, and aligned with undergraduate course-content within Harvard.

                  In addition of $1,000 USD of discretionary funds for the artist’s exhibit related costs, the costs of each artist’s economy travel, accommodation for 4 nights, and meals will be provided.

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