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Harvard College Pakistan Weekend

The inaugural Harvard College Pakistan Weekend (HCPW), titled Ensuring Economic Progress in the Pakistan of the Future, took place on April 19th and 20th, 2014 with approximately 200 people in attendance. The successful event, held at Harvard Law School, was a manifestation of the hard work by the Harvard College Pakistan Students Association (HCPSA), and was co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute.

The conference followed a busy schedule; the first day was filled with keynote speeches by Aly Jeddy, Partner at The Abraaj Group, Shujaat Nadeem, Chairman of Samba Bank, Pakistan, and Humayun Akhtar Khan, Former Commerce Minister of Pakistan, among others.  Panels focused on education policy and the energy crisis. Breakout-style interactive discussion sessions with experienced panelists from Pakistan and the United States also gave students the opportunity to interact with experts.  The second day focused mainly on law and technology, dealing with pertinent issues that have arisen over the last few decades.

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    4/21: Conversation with Pratap Mehta in the Indian election

    Monday, April 21 @ 12:30 pm*

    Barker Center 133, 12 Quincy Street

    RSVP required by Sunday, April 20, to 

    The Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard presents a News Flash lunchtime discussion with Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, Visiting Professor of Social Studies

    on  the 2014 Indian General Election

    *Please note 12:30 pm start time.

      SAI Annual Symposium

      South Asia Regionalism: Workshops on Shared Challenges and the Way Forward

      SAI’s annual symposium will take the form of workshops to highlight’s SAI’s ongoing multi-year interfaculty research projects.

      April 24 & 25, 2014

      Charles Hotel, Kennedy Room, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138


      Mahindra Lecture: Sir Fazle Hasan AbedFounder and Chairperson of BRAC

      April 24, 2014 5:00pm – 6:30pm
      Reception to follow

      Sir Fazle Hasan Abed is the Founder & Chairperson of BRAC. BRAC’s primary objectives emerged as alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor. Under his leadership, in the span of only four decades, BRAC grew to become the largest development organisation in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of its interventions.


      Symposium Workshops: 

      Mobile Technology
      April 24, 8:30 am – 11:00 am
      How can mobile technology be used to enable economic and social mobility for those most in need? Discussions will examine how mobile technology can be used to promote access to improved services such as healthcare, banking, and education.

      Disasters and Mental Health
      April 24, 11:15 am – 1:45 pm
      What are the best practices in urban disaster planning and response, and how can trauma care be implemented effectively in dense urban settings? Goals are to outline a plan for a needs assessment in urban areas, explore innovative undertakings to promote access to mental healthcare, and discuss the need for training of health workers.

      The Contemporary South Asian City
      April 24, 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
      To what extent do local and global innovations in environmental sustainability, building materials and other technologies stand to redefine patterns of development? How have cities in the region remained mindful of the past through conservation and other means in the face of relentless growth? And what are the unique characteristics that define and differentiate the contemporary South Asian city in juxtaposition with other regions in Asia and beyond?


      From SAARC to Slums: Urban Water Challenges in South Asia
      April 25, 8:30 am – 11:00 am
      This workshop will seek to harness the intellectual strength of experts working on issues related to water in South Asia, in order to establish a sustained platform for the ongoing study of complex and inter-related issues around water use and management. By doing so, linkages will be created between existing streams of research to create synergy and maximize impact on issues related to water, including energy, agriculture, food security, and climate change.

      Religion and Secularism
      April 25, 11:15 am – 1:15 pm
      What are the forces contributing to the rise and consolidation of religious nationalism in contemporary South Asia?  How might incidents of communal violence be connected to secular legal frameworks and the politics of caste and tribe?  Why do communal conflicts often entail violence against women?  This panel will explore these questions through close, ethnographic examinations of communal violence in Gujarat (2002) and Orissa (2008).

      Informal Workers, Enterprises, and Cities: Addressing Informality in South Asia
      April 25, 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
      Should South Asia pioneer an inclusive approach to informality that encourages economic diversity and combines formal-informal, traditional-modern economies in innovative ways? This session will explore current and future work of Harvard faculty, students and other leading


      Click here to see the full schedule and to register.

        Podcast: Teaching India in the classroom, Part 2

        Harleen Singh, Brandeis, delivers the keynote address

        On April 4, 2014, teachers from across Massachusetts gathered for the sixth annual Educators for Teaching India (EFTI) Conference at Harvard, hosted by SAI in partnership with EFTI, The Winsor School, Phillips Academy and The Groton School. The conference brought together high school and middle school educators from both private and public schools who are interested in teaching courses about India and South Asia. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Women in India: Negotiating Tradition and Modernity.’

        In the interactive workshops, teachers were able to engage with experts on a wide variety of topics related to women in India, including peer pressure on street children, women and leadership in India, female identity in Hinduism, the influence of the education system in reducing gender violence, and female infanticide India.

        The following podcast is the second in a series from the conference. Check our website in the coming weeks for future podcasts.

        Woman and Leadership, Then and Now

        Presenters: Harleen Singh, Associate Professor of Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies, and South Asian Studies, Brandeis University and Thomas Lamont, Head of History Department, Groton School

        This workshop focused on the lives and impact of three Indian women who played crucial roles during different eras of modern Indian history; Lakshmi Bai (the Rani of Jhansi), who fought the British during the Uprising of 1857; Indira Gandhi, who was Prime Minister of India during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s; and Mayawati, who was recently the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. How these women gained power, wielded it, and lost it reveals insights into the role of gender and patriarchy in Indian society at different times in history.

        Note: The workshop starts at 6:37.


        Previous podcasts:

        ‘Women’s Rights and Gender Based Violence: The Influence of the Education System‘ Antara Lahiri, Harvard Kennedy School and Amy Enright, Rivers School

          Boston Water Consortium meets at Harvard

          The Water Group dinner on April 15

          Water issues are currently being studied from several angles in and around the Boston area, known as the “Capital city of South Asia water experts.” The SAI-supported interfaculty project on water brings people together to generate a forward-looking agenda on water and water-related issues.

          This multi-university Boston Water Consortium, which includes Harvard, MIT, Tufts and BU, organizes monthly roundtable discussions  to identify a common language around understanding the various issues related to water. Issues that are currently being studied include linkages to energy, agriculture, food security, climate change and urbanization.

          The group continues to meet to define its contribution to the on-going study of the inter-related issues arising from water use and management.

          The Boston Water Group held their monthly meeting  on Tuesday, April 15 at a dinner hosted by SAI and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The meeting was chaired by Peter Rogers, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering and Professor of City and Regional Planning, SEAS. 

          Members of the group include scientists and academics from a variety of disciplines including economics, engineering, human rights and law, among others. Faculty from Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Oxford, Suffolk, Tufts, UMass Amherst, UNC were in attendance, as well as members of the US Geological Survey, and NGOs with focus on water challenges throughout the world.

          Conversations included the upcoming workshop on Urban Water Challenges hosted by SAI, as well as the issues of framing access to water as a human right. It was noted by a participant that in order to solve problems related to water, it is necessary to have such dialogues that include depth of many disciplines. This group will also be hosting a workshop,From SAARC to Slums: Urban Water Challenges in South Asiaon April 25 as part of SAI’s Annual Symposium.

            Symposium preview: Urban Water Challenges in South Asia

            As part of its Annual Symposium, SAI is hosting a series of workshops on April 24 and 25, 2014, to highlight ongoing faculty research projects supported by SAI.

            From SAARC to Slums: Urban Water Challenges in South Asia

            Friday, April 25, 2014, 8:30 am – 11:00 am
            Kennedy Room, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge, MA 02138
            Register for this workshop.

            Faculty lead: Shafiqul IslamDirector, Water Diplomacy Program; Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering; Water Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

            In 2010, the United Nations proclaimed that the world met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water, five years ahead of schedule. They estimated that as of 2011, 768 million people, did not have improved sources for drinking water.

            With this metric, we have a success story to celebrate. But we may be celebrating too soon. Where do these people live who lack access to water, and why?  What does access mean? What is the difference between improved water and safe water? How does drinking water relate to our total needs for water access? And, more importantly, are water needs truly met for those who have access to improved water?

            It’s time to rethink how we measure – and sometimes mis-measure – development progress.

            Having access to drinking water equates 20 liters of water per person per day that can be obtained from a source within 1 kilometer from where it is used. Improved water is delivered to communities via infrastructure – like pipes or protected wells.

            Looking at 768M without access to improved water, 83% live in rural areas, creating the appearance that water access is predominantly a problem for rural Sub-Saharan Africa, India and China. However, in urban mega slums like Dhaka or Karachi, people pay exorbitant costs for access to water. The 768M statistic does not address the daily reality of water access in these slums.

            In the following section, SAI talks to workshop leader Shafiqul Islam about the goals of the April workshop.

            Q: What led you to get involved in this topic and research project? Why is it important for South Asia?

            Shafiqul Islam, center, at the SAI Water Roundtable Meeting in November

            A: Providing access to water for an expanding urban population within a stressed and aging water infrastructure creates unprecedented challenges. These challenges are further exacerbated in South Asia by dwindling supply and competing demands, altered precipitation and runoff patterns in a changing climate, fragmented water utility business models, and changing consumer behavior. While scientists and engineers have developed theoretical models of water systems, tools available to implement them have often led to science that is “smart but not wise” because we currently lack the calculus to integrate “scientific learning” with the “political reality” of water problems. Yet, replicable and predictable solutions demand such integration.

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              Podcast: Teaching India in the classroom

              On April 4, 2014, teachers from across Massachusetts gathered for the sixth annual Educators for Teaching India (EFTI) Conference at Harvard, hosted by SAI in partnership with EFTI, The Winsor School, Phillips Academy and The Groton School. The conference brought together high school and middle school educators from both private and public schools who are interested in teaching courses about India and South Asia.

              The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Women in India: Negotiating Tradition and Modernity,’ which was chosen in light of increased media attention on gender violence in India. Harleen Singh, Associate Professor of Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies, and South Asian Studies, Brandeis University, gave the keynote address to kick off the conference, explaining challenges faced by women and India, and sharing her own personal experiences as an Indian women.

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                Harvard College Pakistan Weekend

                The South Asia Institute supports a number of student organizations at Harvard through grants for programming on issues relevant to South Asia, including the Harvard College Pakistan Student Association, which is hosting a conference at Harvard in April on economic issues related to Pakistan.

                The Harvard College Pakistan Weekend (HCPW) on April 19th and 20th, 2014 is a conference that aims to mold the international narrative about Pakistan by providing an opportunity for students, academics, practitioners and community members to gather in discussion of Pakistan’s future. In particular, they believe there is a dearth of debate regarding Pakistan’s economic potential. For this very reason, the pioneering edition of HCPW is titled “Ensuring Economic Progress in the Pakistan of the Future.”

                The conference is bringing some high-profile speakers to campus, including keynote addresses from Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of The Abraaj Group, Humayun Akhtar Khan, Former Commerce Minister of Pakistan, Amjad Janjua, Chief Executive Officer of Pakistan State Oil Company, Shujaat Nadeem, Chairman of Samba Bank, Pakistan, and Asim Khwaja, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

                Panels include:

                Moving Beyond the Energy Crisis
                It is estimated that Pakistan has lost 7.0 percent of its GDP due to electricity outage costs. Due to this loss of output, employment has decreased by approximately 1.8 million. Clearly, the energy situation is a crucial aspect of the future of Pakistan’s economy. We bring together researchers and practitioners to discuss what needs to be done in order to mend broken systems and harness Pakistan’s energy potential. At the policy level, what needs to change? Is the current focus on generation well founded or is there more to be gained by improving transmission and distribution? Finally, which options are most realistic for Pakistan and what are the timeframes for those options?

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