Click to Subscribe & Stay Informed via Email!

News Category: News

April 16: Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity Book Launch and Exhibition

Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity Book Launch and Exhibition


Thursday, April 16, 4:00 pm
Harvard University Loeb House

Over fifty Harvard professors, students, administrative staff, and medical practitioners made the pilgrimage to Allahabad, India, to the Kumbh Mela site in 2013, to analyze issues that emerge in any large-scale human gathering. The Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral MEGACITY book and exhibition consolidate research findings and serve as an example of interdisciplinary research conducted at Harvard.

Welcome: Tarun KhannaDirector, Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Remarks: Drew FaustPresident and Lincoln Professor of History, Harvard University

Panel Discussion: One Harvard: Working Across Disciplines

Diana EckProfessor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, FAS; Member of the Faculty of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

Tarun KhannaDirector, Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Jennifer LeaningFrançois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights

Rahul MehrotraProfessor of Urban Planning and Design and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Reception and book sale to follow.

Space is limited. Please RSVP to Meghan Smith,


This book launch and exhibit are in conjunction with SAI’s Annual Symposium ‘South Asia: Local Solutions with Global Impact.’ Visit the conference website for more information and to register for the two day event

    Update from TraumaLink: Saving lives in Bangladesh

    TraumaLink was founded in 2013 by Dr. Jon Moussally, an attending emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and North Shore Medical Center, along with Eric Dunipace and Ryan Fu, arvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health students.

    The organizations’s goal is to decrease the number of traffic accidents in Bangladesh. Their work was featured in SAI’s 2014 publication Health and South Asia.

    By Dr. Jon Moussally

    TraumaLink’s volunteers at the November launch event

    TraumaLink is a volunteer-based emergency response system for victims of road traffic injuries and other types of trauma. The system utilizes an emergency hotline number, a 24/7 call center, and volunteer first responders recruited from the local community.

    The curriculum, in Bangla, has been designed to teach simple but life-saving skills that can be learned and performed even by those with little formal education. We are also providing volunteers with first aid supplies like bandages and stretchers.

    When a bystander or victim calls us, our operators quickly identify where the crash occurred and how many people are injured. Our graphic user interface then automatically generates SMS messages to volunteers prioritized by their proximity to the crash scene. After treatment at the scene, we also provide guidance on where to take patients based on their location and the severity of their injuries.

    Continue reading →

      Internship site profile: The Woodstock School

      Woodstock’s campus in the Himalayas encourages an appreciation of the environment.

      The Woodstock School will be one of SAI’s internship partner sites for Harvard students.

      With a location 7500 feet above sea level in the Himalayas of Northern India, the Woodstock School offers its students a unique experience. Founded in 1854, the K-12 school has evolved into an internationally-minded residence school for students from all over the world.

      “The school has been a pioneer in providing holistic education to kids, and we emphasize the development of strong character,” says Sanjeev Puri, Chief Operating Officer of the school. “We focus a lot on curiosity and innovation.”

      The student body hails from 30 different countries from across the globe, with about half coming from India, as well as South Korea, the US, Australia, the UK, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. The school recognizes that in an increasingly global world, students must value cross-cultural connections.

      The beautiful, isolated, location is essential to the school’s mission, according to Puri. The school integrates an appreciation for nature into its curriculum. “Much of our learning techniques here happen outdoors, in an environment that is so very conducive to learning,” says Puri.

      The Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study, part of Woodstock’s outdoor education program, contributes to the sustainable development of the region by encouraging an appreciation and understanding of the Himalayan environment.

      Continue reading →

        Annual Symposium: April 16 and 17, 2015

        The 2015 Annual Symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners for a series of workshops on SAI’s ongoing research projects.

        The symposium will also see the launch of an exhibit and book on Mapping the Ephemeral City: Kumbh Mela 2013, SAI’s flagship multiyear, multi-school research project on the world’s largest religious festival that occurs every twelve years, lasts 55 days, and draws millions of visitors to a temporary, purpose-built tent city on the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna.

        Go to the conference website.

        Continue reading →

          Dilip Ratha of the World Bank to be SAI’s inaugural Senior Visiting Fellow

          Dilip Ratha

          SAI’s Visiting Fellows Program will support mid-career professionals to come to Harvard with their own funding for one year. Visiting Fellows will contribute to the academic study of South Asia on campus and in the region by bringing their expertise on a wide range of issues.

          SAI provides the Fellows with a physical space on campus and logistical support. While on campus, the Fellows may have the opportunity to host informal talks, deliver a guest lecture in a course, and engage with faculty and students from across Harvard. Terms for a Visiting Fellow will last one year. At the end of the term, the Visiting Fellow will submit a working paper based on the research conducted during his/her time at SAI, to be disseminated on SAI’s website.

          Dilip Ratha, World Bank Research Group on Migration and Remittances Unit and CEO, Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), Development Prospects Group, World Bank will be at Harvard during the 2015-2016 academic year. As a Senior Visiting Fellow, Dilip will focus on how migration, remittances, and diaspora investments can be harnessed for the development of nations. Recognizing that migration and remittances are a natural response to demographic and economic imbalances, he would outline a vision for a world migration system (akin to the world trading system) that would facilitate that response.

          Continue reading →

            Update from the Harvard Alumni Group of Nepal

            Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Harvard Kennedy School alumnus (MPA/ID 2001) and Member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, presents on the topic “Igniting Nepal’s Fortunes.”

            The Harvard Alumni Group of Nepal held its monthly meeting on the March 10, 2015 in Kathmandu. Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Harvard Kennedy School alumnus (MPA/ID 2001) and Member of the National Planning Commission of Nepal, presented on the topic “Igniting Nepal’s Fortunes.”

            Dr. Wagle began his talk by looking at the year 1775 when Prithivi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, died. It was also the year George Washington became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the United States and Adam Smith published the The Wealth of Nations. Dr. Wagle underscored that there has been a great divergence in economic development since then, and talked about factors that has stalled Nepal’s economic growth over the past 200 years.

            Connecting Nepali evidence with the mainstream economics literature, he hypothesized that much of Nepal’s development woes can be attributed to its landlocked location and extractive political and economic institutions.

            Continue reading →

              Interpreting secularism in India

              Bigelow, right, with Ali Asani

              By Abhishek RahmanMDiv Candidate, Harvard Divinity School; SAI Student Coordinator

              The context in which the conversations on secularism have been happening for the past twenty years in India are crucial to understanding what it means to live in a democratic, multireligious, and complex society.

              According to Anna Bigelow, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at North Carolina State University, the conception of secularism articulates the place of diversity within Indian polity and helps in understanding what Indian secularism means spiritually and practically.

              On March 12, Bigelow spoke on “Sufi Shrines and the Secular State,” a SAI Muslim Societies in South Asia seminar co-sponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard. The seminar was chaired by Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program.

              Continue reading →

                March/April 2015: Cities by Design Film Series, GSD

                Cities by Design Film Series, Harvard Graduate School of Design


                Tuesday, Mar 24, 8:00 PM
                Introduction by Amit Basole, UMass Boston

                Black Friday

                Thursday, Mar 26, 8:00 PM
                Introduction by Richard Delacy, FAS


                Tuesday, Mar 31, 8:00 PM
                Introduction by Mukti Khaire, HBS

                Mumbai Mari Jaan

                Thursday, Apr 2, 8:00 PM
                Introduction by Beena Sarwar

                Continue reading →

                  Webinar: Planning for disasters

                  Dr. Payal Modi, center, gave a presentation on disaster preparedness

                  SAI concluded its three-part webinar series on Disaster Management and Emergency Response on Tuesday, March 10 with a presentation by Payal Modi, MD, MPH, Fellow, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; International Emergency Medicine Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, titled ‘Planning and Debriefing for Future Disasters.’

                  Watch the full webinar.

                  Using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, the webinar engaged seven sites in South Asia with Harvard, including a site in Nepal for the first time.

                  Dr. Modi offered a general overview of best practices in preparing for disasters, and used cases from real world incidents. She explained that the four phases of disaster response are: 1) Mitigation; 2) Preparedness; 3) Response; and 4) Recovery. The presentation focused on the preparedness phase, which can occur at many levels of an organization: international, national, state, hospital, and within hospital departments.

                  Dr. Modi explained that the core principles of preparing for disasters include planning, drilling, debriefing, and editing. She commented that planning should take place at a supervisory level with all stakeholders, and should be put in writing so that responsibilities are clearly delineated. Further, relevant information can be gathered by asking questions such as: What is the risk for our area? What underlying causes increase risk? How can we reduce that risk?

                  Continue reading →

                    Q+A with Asma Jahangir

                    Jahangir delivered the lecture ‘Pakistan: From Crisis to Crisis’ at Harvard on Mar. 4.

                    Asma Jahangir, Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan; Partner, AGHS Law Associates; former President, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan; former Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, delivered the Harvard Asia Center’s Tsai Lecture on March 4, titled ‘Pakistan: From Crisis to Crisis.

                    Read a summary of the lecture.

                    SAI spoke with Jahangir after the lecture about women’s empowerment, the future of human rights, freedom of expression, and Pakistan’s complicated political relationships with India and the US.

                    SAI: I’m really curious about women and women’s rights in Pakistan. What role you see education playing in Pakistan for empowering women?

                    Asma Jahnagir: Well obviously it’s very important because I think that for women to be economically independent, education will play a role. The fact that they are able to educate their own children in the way that they want to is extremely important.

                    In my experience, if you give women the opportunity, they take it very seriously. Secondly, because they have been the oppressed classes for generations, once they realize that their fate does not have to be oppression, they begin to walk themselves out of it. They begin to talk about it in small groups and within the family where they can. It’s the women themselves that are agents of change in local settings.

                    And somehow this is not very well understood, but training women means empowering them. This is essential, because these are the people who have context of being through the same experience and they can share their experience with others in a manner that others cannot.

                    Continue reading →