The following letter was published in SAI’s Year in Review 2015-2016.
This has been a year of firsts for the Harvard South Asia Institute. Since its establishment as an Institute by the University in 2013, SAI’s programs have continued to grow in scale and impact, across Harvard and South Asia, in addition to receiving attention from educational institutions across the United States and Europe.
In 2015, SAI’s Arts Initiative was launched to align with Harvard President Drew Faust’s commitment to strengthen the foundational role of the humanities on campus. The Initiative is supported by a newly formed Arts Advisory Council whose members (from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom) are committed to spreading global awareness of South Asian art. During the recent Fall and Spring semesters, emerging artists from India, Nepal, and Pakistan visited SAI for two weeks each to showcase their work, engage with faculty and students, attend classes relevant to their areas of interest, and visit Harvard and Boston area museums and libraries. This small but promising beginning has already opened up many avenues for scholarship.
Also in its first year, the multi-phased project, ‘Livelihood Creation in India through Social Entrepreneurship and Skill Development,’ funded by the Tata Trusts, brought together seven faculty from five schools across Harvard. The focus of the project is to leverage research at Harvard to further livelihood creation in a developing country. In the experimental phase, the Harvard team ran three year-long pilot projects centered on the handicrafts and handloom sectors, empowerment of women, and science and technology-based interventions for poverty alleviation. Given the initial impact of the program, including identifying exciting new sites for faculty research and Harvard student engagement, we now have a roadmap for expansion of this effort over several years. Hopefully, we will also kindle enthusiasm for this work in other countries in the region.
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