Click to Subscribe & Stay Informed via Email!

News Category: News

The City and South Asia Podcast: The Season of Migration in the City

How should we plan and perceive the urban?

In this podcast, Namita Dharia, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, and Graduate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, talks about the life of a migrant worker in urban India and how the construction industry is addressing issues of child labor and women’s safety.

Namita spent over a year at a construction site in India working on an ethnography of the real estate and construction industry in India’s National Capital Region, and is the author of “The Season of Migration in the City” in SAI’s publication The City and South Asia.

Read the full article:



The City and South Asia Podcast: Floating on Waste Islands

    Innovative healthcare solutions

    Tarun Khanna speaks to the group

    On Tuesday, February 24, SAI traveled to the Bay Area for a roundtable discussion on ‘Innovative Solutions to India’s Healthcare Problems.’ In collaboration with USAID and the South Asian Healthcare Leadership Forum (SAHLF), the event explored the current ecosystem surrounding India’s healthcare system, and avenues that should be further explored for identifying worthwhile investments in healthcare.

    SAHLF is a new group that was started on the East Coast, with a goal of bringing together and organizing the growing South Asian health care leadership community, and developing a collective agenda for what the community can execute together.

    The 35 event attendees came from various backgrounds, including practitioners and Harvard alums who are working on innovative healthcare projects. The event was hosted at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park, California by Sumir Chadha, Managing Director at WestBridge Capital and the newest member of SAI’s Advisory Council.

    Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute, and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, started the event by speaking about SAI’s interdisciplinary work in South Asia, including several projects related to health, such as Primary Care Delivery, Innovation of Medical Devices, and Mobile Technology and Development in South Asia.

    Continue reading →

      The City and South Asia Podcast: Floating on Waste Islands

      Malé, the capital of the Maldives

      For many, the Maldives is a tropical paradise, offering a peaceful getaway for tourists from all over the world. However, on a deeper level, the processes of urbanization, globalization, and climate change have made traditional methods of waste management difficult for this pristine island nation.

      The situation has gotten so bad that some villages have begun to create new islands with the waste. For example, waste from Malé, the capital of the Maldives, is transferred to the waste island of Thilafushi, an island created entirely by dumping garbage in the ocean.

      In this podcast, SAI talks with Krishna Matturi, a recent graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Executive lead and cofounder of FEEDBACK in Boston, and author of ‘Floating on Waste Islands’ in SAI’s publication The City and South Asia. Matturi spent time in the Maldives as a researcher looking at the “unique culture of waste” in the country, and its possible solutions.

      Read the full article:



      -Meghan Smith

        Update from the Harvard Club of Nepal

        Members of the Harvard Club of Nepal

        The Harvard Club of Nepal (HCN), a group of Harvard alumni, has recently been reactivated. The group’s goal is to serve as an interactive platform for proactive discussions on topical issues of national and global importance, as well as to promote professional networking among the alumni community in Nepal.

        HCN has just launched its Talk Series, to take place in Kathmandu on the 10th of each month, with a prominent speaker who will give a talk on an issue of contemporary interest and significance.

        On February 10, 2015, HCN hosted its first talk in the series, about the current constitution-making imbroglio in Nepal.

        Two newspaper editors (both member of HCN) Prateek Pradhan of Nagarik vernacular daily and Subhash Ghimire of Republica English daily presented their views on the current political situation, and discussed the role that media could play in resolving the chaos of constitution-making. Bhojraj Pokharel, Coordinator of HCN and former Chief Election Commissioner, moderated the program.

        Continue reading →

          Nutrition’s future leaders

          Emerging demographic, economic and dietary factors suggest that a large burden of preventable illness is poised to develop in India requiring training for a new cadre of Indian nutrition scientists. There is a great need for nutrition researchers in the country, but few training programs exist.

          In response to this critical gap in training, the Bangalore Boston Nutrition Collaborative (BBNC), a collaboration between St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore (SJRI), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and Tufts University, was initiated in 2009 to build capacity and to provide research training for young professionals in the fields of nutrition and global health from India and other countries in the region.

          SAI supports the project, as its goals align with SAI’s own vision of interdisciplinary collaboration to seek innovative solutions to critical issues in South Asia.

          The Collaborative recently wrapped up its sixth annual course in January2015 in Bangalore. The intensive 2 week course provided up and coming Indian faculty and graduate students with skills needed for research careers in public health and nutrition.

          Continue reading →

            Virtual tour: Temporary Landscapes of Religion in South Asia and Latin America

            The exhibition Temporary Landscapes of Religion in South Asia and Latin America, which is now on display at Harvard, looks at ephemeral urbanism of various religious festivals in Latin America and South Asia.

            In partnership with the Harvard David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the project is led by Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Planning and Design and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, GSD, and curated by Felipe Vera, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Chile, and Jose Mayoral, GSD.

            About the exhibit:

            Religion, a taxonomy of the ephemeral city, is constituted by cases in which the urban space is modified, totally transformed or even created in order to facilitate the practice of faith. These cases present thoughtful strategies for ephemeral configurations deployed to celebrate religious beliefs. Some of the cases in this exhibition go as far as generating temporary megacities from almost nothing, such as the ephemeral constructions set up for the Qayllur Rit’I and the Kumbh Mela.

            Others convert streets into open temples, such as the light constructions made annually to host the Durga Puja in Calcutta, while others transform massive regional infrastructure into a procession path, as in Lo Vázquez, Chile. Among others, the cases shown in this exhibition help us challenge the pace at which the generic city is progressively constructed, showing us how the intensity of the events stretches the physical and symbolic boundaries of the everyday functional spaces.

            The exhibit will be on display until July 2015 in CGIS South, Second and Fourth floors, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA, open to the public Mondays through Thursdays 7am to 9pm, and Fridays 7am to 7pm.


            Lo Vázquez, Chile

            Every year during the first week of December, tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims from Santiago, Chile and Viña del Mar begin a journey to the small town of Lo Vázquez to visit the shrine of the Virgin, a site where multiple apparitions have occurred. The major highway connecting both metropolitan areas to Lo Vázquez loses its functional role and gets reinterpreted as a religious path for pilgrimage.


            Lo Vazquez





























            Continue reading →

              Preserving and promoting South Asia’s past

              Zahir working in northern Pakistan.

              Since his time as a SAI Aman Fellow at Harvard last spring, Muhammad Zahir has been busy continuing his work on uncovering the archaeological past of Pakistan.

              He has worked with teams exploring early Palaeolithic sites in the Nefud Desert in Saudi Arabia and in the Soan Valley of Pakistan.

              Another project includes the documentation and preservation of the endangered archaeological heritage along the ancient Silk Roads network in Pakistan that ran along the Indus River.

              He has also teamed up with Prof. David Reich of the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, to develop a project to study ancient DNA from excavated graves in north-western Pakistan. If successful, the study would be instrumental in understanding modern and ancient ethnicities in South Asia.

              Most recently, Zahir has worked with the Japanese Centre for South Asian Culture Heritage (an umbrella nonprofit organization of Japanese archaeologists, conservationists, and art historians) and the Department of Archaeology at Hazara University, Pakistan, to develop a project for mutual cooperation and development of research projects and the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage of Pakistan.

              Continue reading →

                India’s path to global leadership

                The India Conference at Harvard, hosted by students at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, and cosponsored by SAI, is one of the largest India conferences in the US.

                This year’s conference will take place on March 7 and 8, 2015, and will bring together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists, and many other leaders to engage in a conversation about India’s path to global leadership.

                SAI spoke with Chandni Sachdeva, Harvard Business School, MBA Class of 2015, one of the organizers of the event, about the conference and its goals.

                SAI: The slogan for the conference is ‘India’s path to global leadership.’ Where did this idea come from?

                Chandni Sachdeva: Last year the conference focused on India’s prospects and paradoxes, which reflected more on the past. This year’s theme, ‘India’s Path to Global leadership,’ is more forward-looking and is inspired from the way we have seen the country evolve on many fronts, whether it be political, industrial, technology or e-commerce/retail.

                SAI: What obstacles does India face in reaching a position of global leadership?

                CS: The obstacles vary by industry and this is something that we will debate and discuss across the different industrial panels. Some of the common themes could be infrastructure, education, cultural mindset, and societal divide.

                SAI: Given that  65% of India’s population is 35 or under, moving forward, what are some issues that young people in India want to see addressed?

                CS: I think India’s burgeoning “under 35″ population is going to have less tolerance for injustice in society and corruption in government and organizations. It will also have higher demands in terms of job opportunities, healthcare, and access to consumer products.

                SAI: You have an impressive lineup of speakers. What will students take away from this conference?

                CS: The India Conference at Harvard attracts over 80 speakers including Kiran Bedi, Sajjan Jindal, Rahul Bose, and Shivshankar Menon, and over 600 attendees. It is a great opportunity to network with India-focused individuals in your industry of interest. There will be networking lunches and a cocktail reception.


                Learn more and buy tickets:

                  Summer Program: Mobile Technology and Big Data in India (New Deadline)

                  Use of Mobile Technology to Change Societies in India

                  Summer Program, 2015

                  The use of mobile technology is ubiquitous and fills the gap of information, communications, and access to social services for large populations. These technological devices are proving to be a powerful tool not just to promote economic growth in emerging markets, but to restructure societies and social relationships. India ranks second after China in the mobile phone market. Approximately 76% of the 1.25 billion people have access to mobile phones in India, and thus this device has huge potential to favorably impact the lives of many.

                  The program for Harvard undergraduate students, located in India, provides an opportunity to examine the use of mobile technology to deliver services in the areas of education, health, agriculture, and banking. Students will be given a background into the landscape of mobile technology in India, and be introduced to an analytic framework based on three major components – the technology itself, regulations and policy around the use of technology, and the individual users of the technology. Equipped with this background, students will conduct observations and interviews with those utilizing the technology and with those who are served by the technology.

                  This 8 week program will take place Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Delhi, hotspots for mobile technology innovation and policy.


                  Tarun Khanna, Director of the Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, HBS
                  JP Onnela, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, HSPH
                  Satchit Balsari, Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

                  Please note this program is only open to Harvard undergraduate students. 

                  The application materials are due Monday, February 28, 2015 (new deadline).

                  a)     Cover Sheet (click here)
                  b)    Statement of purpose describing your rationale for pursuing this project (750 words)
                  c)    Current one-page resume
                  d)    Transcript (Student Record is accepted)

                  The above materials should be emailed to Nora Maginn,

                  e)    Two confidential letters of recommendation to be submitted directly by recommender as PDF attachments to Nora Maginn,

                  Sample budget for Students

                  Learn more about SAI’s Mobile Technology project.

                    International Photo Contest Winners

                    Congratulations to Gillian Slee, Harvard College ’16, and Sara Melissa Theiss, Harvard College ’15, who were chosen by SAI as winners for the Office of International Education’s Annual International Photo Contest. Each year, undergraduates submit photos from their summer travels around the world, whether from study programs, grants, or internships, and SAI selects winners for photos from South Asia.

                    View past winners.

                    First Place: “Jeweled Intensity” by Gillian Slee, Harvard College ’16, taken in Jaipur, India






























                    Runner up: “Woman Making Pot of Food” by Sara Melissa Theiss, Harvard College ’15, taken in Sitapur, India