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News Category: News

‘Altered State: Painting in Myanmar in a Time of Transition’ on display at Harvard

‘Altered State: Painting Myanmar in a time of transition’ will be on display at Harvard until February 22, 2016 in the CGIS South Concourse, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA The exhibit is curated by Ian Holliday,Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The University of Hong Kong and is cosponsored by the Asia Center.

At the opening reception on February 11, Holliday explained that after years of censorship and and oppression, Myanmar is beginning to embrace freedom of expression. All of the paintings are by artists who work in Myanmar, giving the audience a unique window into a country that has been closed off for so long.




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    Rich People Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and their Mega Firms

    The Peterson Institute released its new study, Rich People Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging-Market Tycoons and their Mega Firms, by Caroline Freund, on February 11, 2016. Freund presented her innovative take on corporate innovation, growth, and inequality, which combines insights from new trade research, growth theory, and an original dataset of global business founders and billionaires. Tyler Cowen of George Mason University, and Tarun Khanna, Director, South Asia Institute, and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, provided comments.

    In Rich People Poor Countries, Freund examines how a large and expanding group of businesspeople from developing countries have accumulated billion-dollar fortunes to uncover the type of activities that are well rewarded in different corners of the world.  She classifies the world’s billionaires on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list as company founders, executives, financiers, politically-connected, or inheritors. Two important findings are: (i) a rising share of the global superrich are from emerging markets, and (ii) the fastest growing group are company founders. Linking the individual-level data with data on the largest global companies, she shows that these captains of industry are propelling poor countries out of small-scale production and agriculture and into a future of multinational industry and service-based mega firms. The making of extreme wealth is a very positive sign for a country’s modernization when it is associated with the creation of large and fast-growing firms, especially those closely integrated into the globalized economy. Freund also explores differences across regions, highlighting East Asia as the most dynamic region and the Middle East and North Africa as being trapped in a business model reliant on bequests and political connections. This story of emerging-market entrepreneurs and the global businesses they create dramatically illuminates the process of industrialization in the modern world economy.

    Watch the video:

      Highlights from the Harvard India Conference

      Caj4f1CXEAAsYTzThe conference, held on February 6 and 7 at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, was organized by students at Harvard’s graduate schools and brought together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists, and many other leaders to engage in a conversation about India’s path to global leadership.

      Visit our blog for highlights.


        SAI and Tata Trusts host workshop on science and technology-based social entrepreneurship

        Tarun Khanna speaks at a session

        Tarun Khanna speaks at a session

        From February 2 to 4, 2016, the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI), the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and the Tata Trusts hosted a capacity building workshop on the theme Science and Technology-based Social Entrepreneurship in India’. The event brought together 25 organizations from 14 states at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. These organizations have been doing noteworthy work on issues like improving access to electricity in rural areas, providing access to education to underprivileged communities, improving sanitation, and developing tech solutions to maximize social impact.

        Through the project on ‘Livelihood Creations in India through Social Entrepreneurship and Skill Development’, SAI and the Tata Trusts have previously hosted workshops on Rural Livelihoods in the Indian Crafts Sector in Gandhinagar Women’s Empowerment in Mumbai.

        The session onSuccessful Entrepreneurship,’ was led by Tarun Khanna, Faculty Director, SAI and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, Amuleek Singh, Founder and CEO, Chai Point, and Varun Aggarwal, Cofounder and CTO, Aspiring Minds. Khanna discussed the Harvard Business School case study on Aspiring Minds, an organization that uses machine learning and other advanced algorithms to scientifically assess the potential match between a job seeker and open positions in organizations. He probed Aggarwal with many questions that are faced by start-ups.

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          Dhaka Art Summit: Connecting Bangladesh and the world


          Tarun Khanna speaks to a crowd at the Dhaka Arts Summit.

          Meena Hewett, Executive Director of the South Asia Institute (SAI), and Tarun Khanna, Director, SAI, and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, attended the Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) last week, the world’s largest non-commercial platform for South Asian art.

          The event, held from February 5 to 8 at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, served as a platform to bring together over 300 artists, curators, writers, and art professionals for exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions about art in the subcontinent.

          Meena Hewett spoke to a crowd in the Rewind exhibit area about how SAI’s mission of serving as a platform to bring people together to discuss issues critical to South Asia is similar to the goal of the Summit. SAI recently launched its Arts Program, which aims to connect faculty, students, institutions, art experts, and administrators interested in South Asian art.

          SAI’s Visiting Artist Program brings up-and-coming artists from South Asia to Harvard for 2 weeks to participate in discourse with students and faculty on critical issues. In the fall, SAI hosted Indian artist Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, who draws upon contemporary visual arts media, archival documentation and historical artifacts to document, represent and critique urban flows, and Pakistani artist Basir Mahmood, whose work weaves together various threads of thoughts, findings, and insights into poetic sequences and narratives.

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            Delhi Notebook: How the wedding syndrome could fix India

            1c3bc5aa-7e28-4346-9811-c59cb96e4461In a recent column for The Financial Times, ‘How the wedding syndrome could fix India,’ Victor Mallet writes about how the Indian government manages one-off events but not longer-term projects, and cites SAI’s recently- published book on the Kumbh Mela.

            “It is the same Ganges on whose sandbanks the usually inept Uttar Pradesh government built a fully serviced temporary city for tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims attending the 2013 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad to bathe in the river’s waters. The festival was arguably the largest-ever gathering of humans on Earth.

            So remarkable was the achievement that it is the subject of Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity, a book featuring research from Harvard University’s South Asia Institute.”

            Click here to read the full article.


              Student Summer Grant Deadline: February 17

              The deadline to apply for a SAI Summer Grant is approaching! Research, internship, and language study grants are offered to Harvard University graduate students and Harvard college undergraduate students (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) to be used over the summer.

              Learn more about the following opportunities:

              Deadline to apply: February 17, 2016.


              Seed for Change Competition

              Can you impact India? SAI’s new competition will award  grant prizes of up to $50,000 to interdisciplinary student projects that positively impact societal, economic, and environmental issues in India.

              Learn more (Deadline: Feb. 17).

                “It’s time to raise our voices”

                IMG_8058 - CopyBy Soujanya GanigEd. M Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education; SAI Student Coordinator

                “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust.”

                These were some of the last words of Rohith Vemula, a “lover of stars, science, and nature,” who was an Indian PhD student at the Hyderabad Central University at the time of his death. His suicide on January 17, 2016 sparked protests and outrage from across India and gained widespread media attention as an alleged case of discrimination against Dalits and backward classes in India.

                On Wednesday, February 3, the Harvard University South Asia Institute organized a discussion on the issues surrounding Rohith’s death to express solidarity with student and faculty protesters at Hyderabad University. The discussants were Abha Sur, Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, MIT, Banu Subramanian, Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, UMass Amherst, and Suraj Yengde, Associate, Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University. The discussion was chaired by Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at Harvard University.

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                  SAI hosts women’s empowerment workshop

                  Shashank Shah, right, speaks at the inaugural session.

                  Shashank Shah, right, speaks at the inaugural session.

                  From January 28 to 30, the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) and the Tata Trusts hosted a capacity building workshop on women’s empowerment that brought together 50 organizations from 13 states across India at The Retreat Convention Center in Mumbai. These organizations have been doing groundbreaking work on issues like improving access to secondary education for young girls, addressing gender-based violence, promoting gender equitable norms, and economic empowerment through home-based industries.

                  The three day residential workshop was designed with inputs from knowledge partners and advisory board members to provide functional training, evolve strategies, showcase best practices, discuss scaling, deepen and maximize impact of these organizations, and formulate possible next steps they can take together as an alliance of organizations.

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