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News Category: News

SAI Program Manager Nora Maginn given FAS Impact Award

Nora, center, in the village of Gomla, in the state of Haryana, last summer when she visited as part of the Immersion program for students

Nora Maginn, SAI’s Program Manger, has won the 2014 Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Impact award, given to a small number of FAS staff, due to her excellent contributions to SAI and the Harvard community.

The award is given to a staff member who is a strong collaborator, has consistently exhibited sustained, superior performance with exceptional effectiveness, and someone who delivered contributions that were visible, measureable and broadly acknowledged by colleagues. The individual must demonstrate a high degree of good citizenship and an exemplary work ethic and is recognized as a role model in her position.

As SAI’s Program Manager, Nora coordinates SAI’s many events, including the faculty-led SAI Seminar Series, as well as the SAI grant program, which provides funding for faculty and students to travel to the South Asia to conduct research or participate in internships. Additionally, she manages the SAI Fellowship Program, which brings scholars to Harvard who do research on South Asia.

Congratulations, Nora!

    Postsecondary education in South Asia: Q+A with SAI’s Research Affiliate Mumtaz Anwar

    Mumtaz Anwar

    During his time as a SAI Research Affiliate, Mumtaz Anwar has used Harvard’s resources to develop his research on the expansion of postsecondary education in South Asia, and he has attended classes, lectures, and conferences that have opened his eyes to new forms of learning.

    SAI’s research affiliate program brings researchers and faculty to Harvard each year whose area of interest is South Asia. Anwar is under the mentorship of Asim Khwaja, Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School, while at Harvard, and he is also a research fellow at Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), Germany, along with his permanent position of assistant professor in the Department of Economics, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

    SAI recently talked to Anwar to learn about the progress he has made on his research while at Harvard:

    Q: Can you talk a little bit about your research and what you’ve been doing while at Harvard?

    Mumtaz Anwar: I am working on two issues here. One is expansion of postsecondary education in South Asia and developing countries. There has been a lot of expansion in postsecondary education in all developing countries in last two decades, and I am focusing mostly on South Asia and Pakistan.  For example, in Pakistan, in 2002, there were only 35 public and private sector universities, now there are nearly 200. So there has been a lot of expansion in postsecondary education. First off, what I’m looking at is what are the determinants; whether it is due to economic expansion; whether it is due to social pressure; whether it is due to more young people coming in; and some political factors as well. Secondly, while a lot of expansion has happened in the last 2 decades, at the same time there are a lot of quality problems coming in. There are a number of students who couldn’t be admitted to universities before, but are now coming in with easy admissions into the universities and higher education institutions, which needs analysis.

    Anwar, left, with Asim Khwaja

    The second aspect which I am working on is the relationship of higher education with the job market. For example, look at the Middle East, A lot of people are saying that the Arab uprising is due to a problem where young people have education, but they are not getting jobs. So what I am looking at in South Asia is that how in Pakistan, where 65 percent of the population is composed of young people, this issue can be addressed. So if they are going into post-secondary education, what will happen with them after? Will they be able to find jobs? Will they get a job according to their degree and qualifications? The problem is that people may be getting jobs, but these jobs are not according to their qualification and experience. So instead of getting out of the poverty trap, they are going into it. So this is the second aspect I am researching while here [at Harvard].

    All in all, I am interested in the expansion in postsecondary education and human development in South Asia and particularly in Pakistan. Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there was a lot of funding for the primary and secondary education but very little funds has been allocated to higher education. What I am looking at is whether these international donors should also consider higher education as well. So I am looking at all these aspects of postsecondary expansion, its role in the labor market, and then a policy proposal for the international donor agencies.

    Q: And how has working with Asim Khwaja [Harvard Kennedy School] helped your research and how have you learned from him while at Harvard?

    MA: It’s fantastic. He basically gave me a new direction in my research, and it has been very interesting for me, because what I was doing in political economy and development policy, which is my main area of research, has been given a new direction because of Harvard. The time I have spent here has changed my whole frame of mind. This research has opened new avenues. For example, I never knew about the new methodologies of research, like RCTs (Randomized controlled trials). So I learned it here, and now I am going to practice it as well. Asim [Khwaja] helped me by motivating me and he encouraged me to learn these tools as well.

    I audited a few classes at the Harvard Kennedy School and MIT. In these courses, I learned a lot about how to do research, and current research practices. What I did in my old research now seems old and traditional. Here, I have learned so many new things.

    Q: How has your time at SAI as a research affiliate influenced your research? I know you have been to a lot of SAI events and have met a lot of people who have influenced your research.

    Anwar, second from right

    MA:  It has been amazing for me, really. I spent four years in the UK, and 3 years in Germany, have traveled around the world, so this is my seventh university altogether. I have studied in four universities, have worked in two universities, and have been a visiting fellow. At SAI, and at Harvard, I have seen debates and intellectual discussions that are going on here, which has no parallel and that is amazing. It means people are exchanging their views, they are debating the issues, and by that, you are learning new things as well, and more innovative things as well- more current research, more visionary ideas. What will happen next? That is something different, that each and every kind of group can have views, and can express freely. I have participated in a number of activities [classes and lectures at Harvard and in the area], and this has given me, on a whole, a broader scope of learning.

    Q: After your time at Harvard, what do you intend to do?

    MA: After Harvard, I plan to work with Asim [Khwaja], to design an experiment and return to Pakistan to develop policy guidelines for better quality higher education in Pakistan, and an improvement of higher education in all of South Asia.

    This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

      Karachi, Pakistan: Disaster Mitigation in the City of Migrants by Satchit Balsari

      By Satchit Balsari, Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University; Director, Global Emergency Medicine Program, Weill Cornell Medical College / NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

      Earlier this year, a delegation from SAI visited the Aga Khan University Hospital and observed some of Pakistan’s unique emergency care challenges.

      One of the most populous cities in the world, yet one of the least understood, especially in the West, is the bustling port-city of Karachi, home to over 20 million residents and financial capital of Pakistan. Spread over 1360 square miles, Karachi is a dense urban agglomeration accommodating over 15,000 people per square mile. Tracing its roots back to the old town of Kolachi, settled by Sindhi and Baloch tribes, Karachi saw exponential growth in the second half of the 20th century. Starting with a population of about 400,000 on the eve of Pakistan’s Independence in 1947, the city absorbed wave after wave of migrants—first Muhajirs from partitioned India, then immigrants from the newly independent Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan), and finally Pashtuns from Khyber Pankhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Areas, northern Balochistan, and Afghanistan.

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        Internship opportunities at SAI

        The South Asia Institute is looking for 2 student interns for the Fall 2014 semester, with a possibility of extending into the Spring 2015 Semester. Click the position for more information.

        Please note: Only Harvard students are eligible for these positions.

        Student Services Intern
        The Student Services Intern is responsible for helping to manage a Summer Student Internship Program at the South Asia Institute. The Intern will aid in the process of matching Harvard College and Professional School students with a range of organizations from the public sector, private enterprise, and in the nonprofit and NGO communities throughout South Asia. Working in collaboration with the SAI team, the Intern will also manage the outreach effort to communicate to Harvard College students about these internship opportunities, as well as the application processes for the Internship Program administration.


        Communications and Outreach Intern
        The Communications and Outreach Intern will help to maintain the South Asia Institute website and will help develop and distribute outreach and marketing materials, including social media, website posts, and the weekly newsletter. The Intern will assist in the generation of story ideas and writing content for the SAI website and newsletter. The Intern will aid SAI events, including the process of publicizing events digitally and around campus. Working in collaboration with the SAI team, the Intern will also assist the Executive Director on special projects as needed.

          SAI welcomes six new Steering Committee Members

          SAI is excited to welcome six additional members to its Steering Committee, joining the 13 current members who provide guidance and advisement to SAI. The new members represent schools from across the university.


          New Members


          ALI ASANI
          Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures; Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program

          Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Ali S. Asani is currently Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University. After completing his high school education in Kenya, he attended Harvard College, with a concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. He continued his graduate work at Harvard in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, receiving his Ph.D. in 1984. Prof. Asani holds a joint appointment between the Study of Religion and NELC, where he is currently the chair. He also serves on the faculty of the Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. He has served on the Committee on the Study of Religion since 1992 and has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of languages such as Urdu/Hindi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Swahili as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition.

          Besides his various language courses, he teaches Culture and Belief 19: Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies; Culture and Belief 12: For the Love of God and His Prophet: Religion, Literature and the Arts in Muslim Societies; Religion 1802: An introduction to the Islamic mysticism: the Sufi tradition; Religion 1820: Islam in South Asia: Religion, Culture and Identity in South Asian Muslim Societies; Freshman Seminar 37y: Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures. He directs the university’s Ph.D. program in Indo-Muslim Culture.

          In addition to his specialization in the Muslim literatures of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Prof. Asani is also interested in Shiism, Sufism and popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, and Muslim communities in the West.


          HOMI K. BHABHA
          Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English, the Director of the Humanities Center and the Senior Advisor on the Humanities to the President and Provost at Harvard University

          Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard. He also serves as the Senior Advisor on the Humanities to Harvard’s President and Provost. Bhabha is the author of numerous works exploring colonial and postcolonial theory, cultural change and power, and cosmopolitanism, among other themes. Some of his works include Nation and Narration and The Location of Culture, which was reprinted as a Routeledge Classic in 2004 and has been translated into Korean, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Serbian, German and Portuguese. A selection of his work was recently published in a Japanese volume. Harvard University Press will publish his forthcoming book A Global Measure, and Columbia University Press will publish his next book The Right to Narrate.

          Bhabha has delivered the Presidential Lectures at both Stanford University and Freie Universität Berlin, and most recently the Hegel Lecture at the Freie Universität Berlin, Mellon Distinguished Lecture at Duke University and keynote lectures at Peking University in Beijing, the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding and the Korea Foundation in Seoul, the “Changing the Humanities/the Humanities Changing” conference on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research conference on the humanities. Bhabha serves as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Human Rights, on the Advisory Boards of the Graduate School of North American Studies and the International Research Center “Interweaving Performance Cultures” at Freie Universität Berlin and in the Advisory Group of the Literary Studies Symposia at the German Research Foundation.

          Bhabha most recently contributed essays to exhibition catalogues on the work of Anish Kapoor, Raqib Shaw, and Shahzia Sikander and interviews with Akbar Padamsee and on the work of ORLAN. He has served as an advisor at key art institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Arts London, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Rockefeller Foundation; he is a member of the Asian Art Council at the Guggenheim Museum New York and an advisor on the Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives project at the Museum of Modern Art New York. Bhabha also serves on the Steering Committee and Master Jury of the Aga Khan Architectural Prize, is a Trustee of the UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity, and served as a juror at the 53rd International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

          Educated at the University of Bombay and the University of Oxford, Bhabha was profiled by Newsweek as one of “100 Americans for the Next [21st] Century.”

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            Fall 2014 South Asia Courses

            Harvard will be offering many South Asian courses in the Fall 2014 semester. Below is a sample of courses from across many departments that contain content about South Asia, including some that are new courses.

            For a fill list of South Asia classes, click here.

            Anthropology 1658. Law, Culture, and Islam – (New Course)
            Asad A. Ahmed
            For Undergraduates and Graduates
            Half course (fall term). M., W., at 11, and weekly section to be arranged
            From Afghanistan, through the Middle-East and to the United States, the Shari’a has become a site of intense conflict and controversy. Regarded as backward and barbaric by some and a source of ethical and religious life by others it marks deep divides and seemingly incommensurable world views. This course examines the Shari’a, primarily understood as law through an anthropological lens in recent and contemporary life. It will attend to the conjunctures, imaginaries and practices between ‘ law’, culture and morality initially in the Muslim world before shifting to debates on incorporating Sharia law in the West.

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              SAI Summer Film Series

              Join SAI this summer for our annual Summer Film Series! Each Thursday, SAI will screen a different film from South Asia. These screenings are free and open to the community.

              All screenings begin each Thursday at 5:30 PM, in CGIS S010, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA.

              June 26: Guide (India, 1965)
              Raju falls in love with the dancer wife of an archaeologist. The dancer and her husband break up and Raju becomes the dancer’s manager. He is charged with theft and goes to prison. When released he travels to a village where the people mistake him for a holy man. To bring rain to the village he fasts with the results inevitable.

              July 3: Pakeezah (India, 1972)
              A girl, whose mother dies of sorrow from her husband’s family’s rejection, grows up singing and dancing like her mother. She works as a dancing girl and is courted by a prince, but can think only of a man she has never met, who left her a message on the train. She dreams of him and cannot dance, becomes frightened and runs into the night.

              July 10: The Lady (UK/France/Burma, 2011)
              While Aung San Suu Kyi becomes the core of Burma’s democracy movement the relationship she shares with her husband struggles to endure against a background of political turmoil and sacrifice.

              July 17: Teesri Kasam (India, 1966)
              After nearly getting arrested, Hiraman promises to himself that he will never assist any black-marketeer nor transport bamboo. He manages to save enough money to buy another cart, and is hired to take an attractive woman, Hira Bai, on a 30-hour ride to a Mela. He subsequently falls in love with her – little knowing that she is a traveling courtesan – and it is this attraction that will get him into trouble.

              July 24: Josh (Pakistan, 2013)
              Fatima, a committed schoolteacher living the cosmopolitan high life in Karachi, has her life shattered when her nanny, Nusrat, inexplicably disappears. Josh is the story of Fatima’s search, despite the warning of her friends and family, for a dangerous truth in Nusrat’s feudal village. Musically intense and colorfully raw, JOSH takes a sneak peek inside Pakistan today- the way you didn’t know it.

              July 31: Promise Land (India, 2013)
              With immigration as a central theme, Promise Land’s three stories effortlessly intertwine in a gripping tale of love, conflict, and hope. These compelling narratives reveal the unique challenges and triumphs of the characters as they struggle to keep their families together and pursue their dreams in a place they have come to call home.
              Director Kevin Dalvi will accompany the screening.

              August 7: Matir Moina (Bangladesh, 2002)
              The film is set against the backdrop of unrest in East Pakistan in the late 1960s leading up to the Bangladesh War of Liberation. In this setting, a small family must come to grips with its culture, its faith, and the brutal political changes entering its small-town world.

                Conference explores Bangladesh garment industry

                On Saturday, June 14, SAI co-sponsored an event titled Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry, the first conference held at Harvard on this topic. The event was co-sponsored by the Harvard College Students for Bangladesh, the International Sustainable Development Institute in addition to the Harvard Center for Environment and the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

                The day-long conference had over thirty speakers, ranging from politicians to representatives from the garment industry. There was representation from organizations such as BRAC, the United Nations, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Over the course of six sessions, the speakers focused on different issues and topics relating to the garment industry.

                The conference began by highlighting the current state of the industry and then discussed globalization, safety concerns, workers’ rights, labor standards, and trade and investment cooperation.

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                  Bangladesh Development Conference 2014

                  On Saturday, June 14, 2014, SAI is co-sponsoring the 2014 Bangladesh Development Conference, titled ‘Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry.’ The objective of this year’s conference is to explore the linkages among development, garment sector and health and safety issues in Bangladesh.

                  It will highlight the actors and factors that impinge on this linkage at national and global levels. The deliberation will explore how the development partners can more effectively facilitate and assist in solving the key problems for sustaining the competitiveness of Bangladesh garment industry. How to enhance the role international community and of industry experts for practical solutions will come up for discussion.

                  The seminar is bringing together experts, industry people, NGO representatives and practitioners from development agencies and high level policy makers from Bangladesh and the USA (see list below).

                  Participants will include representatives from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), other manufacturers, international brands and retailers, workers rights groups, international labor organizations, United Nations Agencies, and representatives from international financial institutions.

                  The organizing committee invites you to attend this seminar and to participate in the discussion dealing with aspects of the global economy, garment industry, trade and development in the context of Bangladesh garments and apparel industry and the role of international community and development partners.

                  The day-long seminar is cosponsored with the Harvard Center for Environment (HUCE) and Harvard University Safra Center for Ethics.

                  This event is free and open to the public.

                  Register here for the conference.

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                    Jacqueline Bhabha speaks to CCTV about gender violence in India

                    Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB Director of Research, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School, Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School spoke to CCTV recently about the problem of gender violence in Indi:

                    Bhabha, along with Askhay Mangla, Harvard Business School, and Diane Rosenfeld, HLS, are a co- leaders of SAI’s Harvard Gender Violence Project, which aims to elevate the status of South Asian women by engaging societies to reject violence and foster respect for all people. The Harvard Gender Violence Project (HGVP) is a collaboration between SAI, Harvard Law School,Harvard Business School, and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, and regional experts working in the area of gender violence prevention and intervention programs. The HGVP was established shortly after the 2012 Delhi gang rape incident that generated wide spread attention, both nationally and internationally, and a call for action.

                    An interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and administrators with relevant past experience hope to join forces with colleagues working in South Asia, to develop ideas and synergies, that can contribute to progressive change in this pervasive problem.

                    Click here to read more about the interdisciplinary project.