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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.

      Continue reading →

        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.

        Continue reading →

          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?

          Continue reading →

            World beckons more open Asian businesses

            The following article appeared in Nikkei Asian Review on April 3, 2014. It features the work of Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

            TOKYO — Asian companies are on the march around the world, with some offering innovative ideas that challenge rivals in the U.S. and other advanced economies. But to succeed globally, they need to become more open to outsiders.

                Tarun Khanna, who teaches strategy at Harvard Business School, was among a group of people who toured a new hospital in the Caribbean.  Health City Cayman Islands, on Grand Cayman, opened on Feb. 25. The visitors were mostly U.S. health care professionals, but the professor joined them to learn more about the hospital’s Indian operator, Narayana Health. Khanna began looking into Narayana Health in 2003. He was the first scholar to examine the company’s innovative business model.

                 Grand Cayman is only a 90-minute flight from Miami. The hospital, which specializes in cardiology and orthopedics, has an ambitious plan to increase its number of beds from over 100 today to 2,000 within a decade to meet high demand from American patients.

            Click here to read the full article.

              SAI in San Francisco

              SAI is excited to announce the launch of its San Francisco Series, ‘Conversations with Harvard Faculty,’ which will bring Harvard faculty to California for events on a variety of topics related to South Asia. The first event will be on April 18, 2014, with Professor Diana Eck, titled ‘Sacred Geographies: India and the United States.’

              Diana Eck is the Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Member of the Faculty of Divinity. Eck will engage with Harvard friends and alumni in San Francisco in a conversation about her book India: A Sacred Geography, which explores the sacred places of India, taking the reader on an extraordinary trip through the beliefs and history of this rich and profound place, as well as providing a basic introduction to Hindu religious ideas and how those ideas influence our understanding of the modern sense of “India” as a nation.

              Please visit our website for information about future SAI events in San Francisco.



                Global literature in the classroom

                On March 31, 2014, teachers from across the country came together to discuss how a story about slum-dwellers in Mumbai can be used in the classroom – except they did not even need to leave their computers.

                As part of the Global Literature Online Book Group for Educators, SAI partnered with the Harvard Global Health Institute to host the online book group about Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Shankar Ramaswami, SAI South Asian Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, spoke at the webinar to give the teachers background and historical context on the book.

                Using Adobe Connect webinar software, teachers were able to log on to a virtual classroom and interact directly with Shankar and other participating teachers. A partnership of international study centers on Harvard’s campus, this online reading series for k-12 educators explores literature from six global regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia / Eurasia, the Middle East, and South Asia.  Workshop participants have the opportunity to discuss works of global literature with scholars and authors in live, online conversations.  Each month, a different regional center chooses a book and connects educators with a scholar at Harvard.

                Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a non-fiction story about a present-day slum of Mumbai, India, named Annawadi. It follows the interconnected lives of several residents, including a young trash picker, a female “slumlord,” and a college student. Shankar is currently co-teaching a class about poor and working people in modern South Asia and using the book in his syllabus, so his comments during the webinar provided the participants with valuable content to increase their understanding of global issues related to India.

                The teachers were also able to brainstorm with each other how sensitive material can be taught in the classroom, given that the themes of the book include issues such corruption, religion, eithics, poverty and inequality. Participants included a 4th grade teacher at a private school in Baltimore, a high school world literature teacher in Iowa, and teachers from public and private schools in Massachusetts.

                Click here to view a recording of the whole webinar.

                Click here to learn more about Global studies Outreach at Harvard.

                  4/7: Battle for Schools and Children’s Right to Education in India

                  Battle for Schools and Children’s Right to Education in India

                  An Informal Conversation with Professor Shantha Sinha

                  Monday, April 7, 2014
                  12:00 – 1:30 PM
                  Harvard Global Health Institute
                  104 Mt. Auburn St., 3rd floor, Cambridge, MA

                  Professor Sinha was the first chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights in India. She is the founder of MV Foundation, an organization dedicated to building the capacities of community in rural and urban areas for abolition of child labor by universalizing social education. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her anti-child labor activities.

                  This lunchtime conversation is limited to the first 25 students. Please RSVP to if you are able to attend. We look forward to your reply.

                  Sponsored by the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights and the Harvard Global Health Institute

                    Harvard Holi 2014












                    On Saturday, March 29th, the Harvard campus became a little more colorful as students gathered in the Mac quad for Holi, the Hindu festival of colors meant to celebrate the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. The event was organized by Harvard Dharma, the Hindu Student Association, and the Harvard India Student Group. SAI awarded the groups a grant to support the event. Photos by Ted Ko, Harvard College Class of 2016

                    Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the celebration.