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News Category: News

After Nepal quake, Harvard responds

This article was originally published in the Harvard Gazette on April 27, 2015

University mobilizes aid and medical help, tracks its visitors to area


By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer


With Nepal struggling to deal with the enormous calamity caused by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck north of Kathmandu Saturday, Harvard is mobilizing to help with technical and medical assistance and reaching out to faculty, staff, and students visiting the region.

Harvard’s Global Support Services (GSS), through its Harvard Travel Assistprogram, evacuated one University employee and one student who were traveling in the region together. Officials also contacted two other students to ensure they were safe.

“We could not have done this without the tremendous work of our IEMT [International Emergency Management Team] and network of Harvard contacts,” said Steve Taylor, associate director of safety and security for GSS, who led the response. “We ascertained that the two remaining students are staying outside of the impacted area, and we’re confident that they are in a safe place.”

Because of the hazardous situation, Taylor said officials are advising against travel to the region except for trained emergency-relief personnel. A high hazardous rating means that undergraduate students cannot travel to Nepal, and graduate student travel will require consultation with GSS to ensure students have the latest information and security resources.

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    SAI Year In Review 2014-15


    From the Director’s Letter:

    This year has seen unprecedented growth and new beginnings for the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI). Only two years into being formally elevated from an initiative to a university-wide research and academic institute, SAI has actively engaged over 500 regional stakeholders, and an equal number of faculty and students from Harvard’s twelve degree-granting schools, making it the hub of innovative programming, knowledge production, and research pertaining to a vast and complex region.

    Home to over a quarter of the world’s population, some of the most critical issues being debated on the global stage today find resonance in South Asia. As a result, the region is a laboratory for entrepreneurship, technological advancement, and cultural diversity.

    Click here to read the digital version of our Annual Report.

      South Asia Week 2015

      The Future of Diplomacy Project, in partnership with SAI, will be hosting its annual South Asia Week, beginning Friday, April, 24, featuring an impressive array of regional practitioners and experts on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.


      Friday, April 24, 2015 from 02:30pm – 04:00pm
      Allison Dining Room, Taubman Building, 5th Floor, Harvard Kennedy School
      Ambassador Jalil Jilani on US-Pakistan relations

      In this first public event of the Future of Diplomacy Project’s annual South Asia Week Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani discusses his country’s relationship with the United States and regional powers in a talk moderated by South Asia Institute Director, Professor Tarun Khanna, Harvard Business School.

      Ambassador Jilani assumed his responsibilities as Ambassador of Pakistan on January 2, 2014. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Ambassador Jilani served as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan from March 2012 to December 2013. He is a career diplomat and has also served as Ambassador of Pakistan to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union (2009-2012) and as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canberra, Australia (2007-2009).

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        David Bloom named Andrew Carnegie Fellow

        Congratulations to David Bloom, SAI Steering Committee member, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was named one of 32 inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellows, the Carnegie Corporation of New York announced on April 22, 2015.

        Recipients of the new annual fellowship supporting scholars in the social sciences and humanities will receive up to $200,000 each, which will enable them to devote between one and two years to research and writing. The anticipated result of each fellowship is a book or major study.

        Read the full announcement here.

          A powerful convergence

          Rahul Mehrotra, left, speaks about the Kumbh Mela exhibit to Harvard President Drew Faust, center, and Tarun Khanna, SAI Director

          The following article was published in the Harvard Gazette.

          Students, researchers share lessons from Kumbh Mela


          By Alvin Powell, Harvard Staff Writer

          Every 12 years, where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River in Allahabad, India, a city of millions appears, made entirely of just six things: canvas, corrugated metal, bamboo, nails, screws, and rope.

          It is a massive undertaking, one whose impermanence is underlined by the fact that the site is inaccessible just months before, claimed by the river during monsoon floods, and dismantled shortly after.

          The city is the site of the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu religious festival at which millions of pilgrims bathe at the confluence of two physical rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, and one spiritual one, the Saraswati.

          At the last Kumbh Mela, in 2013, among the pilgrims was a team of some 50 people — faculty, students, and researchers — from Harvard. The team was making an in-depth study of a gathering that is not only a remarkable religious experience, but also a remarkable exercise in urban planning, public health, government administration, security, and commerce.

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            South Asia: Local Solutions with Global Impact

            The South Asia Institute’s 2015 Annual Symposium, ‘South Asia: Local Solutions with Global Impact‘ was held at the Loeb House on April 16 and 17, 2015. The conference brought together scholars and practitioners for a series of workshops on SAI’s ongoing research projects.

            See a summary of the workshops below. Check back on our website for more in-depth summaries and videos of each panel.

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              Jayaprakash Narayan reconsidered

              By Ghazal Gulati, Ed. M Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education; SAI Student Coordinator (@GhazalGulati)

              On April 9, 2015, SAI hosted a student-organized seminar at Harvard on Jayaprakash Narayan, a complex and elusive political thinker from India. J.P., as he was popularly called, is most commonly known for being a catalyst during the 1975 Emergency and the events that followed.

              Throughout the discussion, the panelists aimed to explore the different facets of J.P.’s life in the 1950s and 60s that marked a shift in his intellectual trajectory. The event was chaired by Carolien Stolte, Niels Stensen Post Doctoral Fellow, History Department, Harvard University and Assistant Professor of History, Leiden University. The four speakers shed new light onto lesser known yet integral aspects of J.P.’s contradictory political and intellectual career.

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                2015 Student Summer Grants

                Ekta Patel, Harvard College '15, on a SAI grant in Surat, India

                Ekta Patel, Harvard College ’15, on a SAI grant in Surat, India

                SAI 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 35 grants for summer and research, internship, and language study in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

                Learn more about SAI grants.

                Graduate Language Study

                Joshua Ehrlich, History, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
                Mughal Persian language study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Lucknow

                Neelam Khoja, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
                Punjabi language study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Chandigarh

                Jason Smith, Religion, ThD, Harvard Divinity School
                Tamil language study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Madurai

                Tyler Richard, South Asian Studies, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
                Tamil language study, Field Study, Tamil Nadu

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