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News Category: Faculty

HBS Creating Emerging Markets and India Research Center host inaugural conference in Mumbai


Read an interview with participants of this conference:
HBS Working Knowledge: Reputation is Vital to Survival in Turbulent Markets
Reputation and resilience are key ingredients that determine whether companies will survive tumultuous markets, according to a new paper byGeoffrey Jones, Tarun Khanna, Cheng Gao, and Tiona Zuzul.

By Rachael Comunale

The Harvard Business School Creating Emerging Markets project (CEM), in collaboration with the HBS India Research Center (IRC), hosted a two-day conference titled, “Creating Emerging Markets: Lessons from History” on February 13-14 in Mumbai. The event showcased the CEM archive, which includes more than 100 video interviews with business leaders in emerging markets conducted largely by senior HBS faculty, and it also marked the 10th anniversary of the IRC. Guest speakers included distinguished business leaders Rahul Bajaj, Ritu Kumar, Jerry Rao, Zia Mody, Anu Aga, and Yusuf Hamied. The event also attracted prominent scholars, including Gita Piramal, Mahesh Vyas, Chinmay Tumbe, and Shekhar Shah, and leading corporate archivists, including Vrunda Pathare, Rajib Lochan Sahoo, and Usha Iyer. Over 120 guests attended.

Lessons from History

The two-day conference in Mumbai sought to address – through two different forums – the question: what is the value of history in business? Day One of the conference explored the value of history for today’s practitioners and policy makers through the lens of four major issues currently facing businesses in South Asia and other emerging markets: spurring innovation, managing family business, navigating business-government relations, and promoting responsible business practices. Each discussion began with a series of short clips from the CEM archive that addressed the specific theme in more detail. For example, during the innovation panel, guests watched a short video of Yusuf Hamied discussing the necessity of incremental innovation in the pharmaceuticals industry in the 2000s.

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Highlights from the Harvard India Conference

unnamedThe annual Harvard India Conference, which SAI co-sponsors, was held at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School on February 11 & 12.

Videos from the event.

The following article was written by DiyaTV.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Diya TV) — Two days, 90 speakers and over a thousand attendees at one of the largest student-led conferences about India in the U.S. For the last 15 years, every February, eminent personalities of India from political, entertainment, business and science milieus descend on the Harvard campus to share their stories, visions, challenges and missions to infect the young Indian diaspora in the US with an idea of a better India in the global context.

India Conference 2017 was aptly themed, ‘India – The Global Growth Engine.’ A United Nations report forecasted India to be growing at 7.7% in 2017 besides a global recession (just 2.2% in 2016). However, most speakers cautioned the audience from undue fervor as the country continues to reel in poverty—23.6% of the total population lives under $1.25 per day on purchasing power parity. Multitude of the panels like those discussing agriculture, entrepreneurship, urbanization and women’s rights, kept the focus firmly on the challenges with a smattering of success stories.

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SAI to host weekly seminar series on Partition of British India

0126 Partition Seminars_The Harvard South Asia Institute is pleased to announce a weekly seminar series focusing on the Partition of British India every Wednesday evening through February and March. The series, part of the SAI research project ‘Looking Back, Informing the Future: The 1947 Partition of British India – Implications of Mass Dislocations Across Geographies’ will explore issues that have often been ignored in the context of the Partition as well as discuss their relevance and impact today, both in South Asia and in other parts of the world. Through two-hour seminars spread over eight sessions, faculty, students, and community members will be brought together to explore the various facets of this complex historic event.

SAI will produce a podcast series based on the seminars, in which distinguished faculty and visiting scholars explore the history, context and continuing impact of the Partition.

All seminars will be from 5:00 – 7:00PM in CGIS S050, 1730 Cambridge street, Cambridge, MA. Add to your calendar. *Locations subject to change, please check our site for updates.*

The seminars are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Seminar resources.

Letter by SAI Director Tarun Khanna: “We are embarking on a major research project to understand the history, context and continuing impact of Partition”

Join the conversation: #SAIPartition.

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SAI concludes Tata Trusts Livelihood Creation project with conference in Delhi

Professor Khanna

Professor Khanna

The Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI), in collaboration with Tata Trusts, concluded the 18-months project on ‘Livelihood Creation In India’ at an event hosted in New Delhi on Jan. 23. Nearly 200 people attended the event at the Taj Mahal Hotel, representing institutions including the World Bank, UNDP, Government of India, IIT Delhi, and many other top academic, corporate and civil society institutions.

The program showcased the work of the ‘Livelihood Creation in India’ project, with a focus on two key areas: Rural Livelihood Creation in the handicrafts and handloom sectors; and Science and Technology-based Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Shashank Shah, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Business School and Project Director at SAI, provided an overview to the 18 month project. “This project has involved rigorous research work with over 100 social enterprises across 15 states of India to study the challenges and capacity gaps,” he said. “The Harvard SAI Team and faculty then conducted 5 capacity building workshops with 125 participating enterprises, and 10 webinars involving Harvard faculty and subject experts from India.”

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SAI responds to Executive Order

The South Asia Institute (SAI) fully endorses Harvard President Drew Faust’s response to the Trump Administration’s executive order restricting travel to the United States.

We offer our full support to Harvard students, faculty, staff and affiliates, regardless of their country of origin or religious background, alongside the Harvard International Office and the university’s Global Support Services. We encourage all South Asia scholars to apply for our programs.

The work of universities in the world has never been more vital. The SAI is committed to the advancement of global scholarship and understanding, and our work in this fascinating, important region will continue. Across many borders, our diverse students and scholars are aiming to generate knowledge and insights that transcend and outlive any temporary barriers to progress.

Harvard President Drew Faust: We Are All Harvard


Harvard International Office

Harvard Global Support Services

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Ali Asani and Ali Sethi pay ode to regional poets at ‘Misaq-e-Ishq’

16252313_361401474253079_120009414114107995_oThis was published in Pakistan Today.

The Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) in collaboration with the LUMS School of Education (LUMS SOE) and Harvard South Asia Institute (Harvard SAI) organized an exclusive music and poetry evening on Jan. 17. Renowned musician Ali Sethi and Harvard Divinity School Professor Mr Ali Asani put together a special set which they performed to an enthralled audience at the Ali Institute of Education.

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The state of higher education in India

Mark Elliott, second from left

Mark Elliott, second from left

On January 12, 2017, SAI hosted a roundtable discussion in Delhi to bring together leaders in the field of higher education in India. The event provided a rare opportunity for the leaders to come together and discuss what is at stake for educational institutions, and what can be learned by looking outside of India.

Mark Elliott, Vice Provost for International Affairs at Harvard University, during his first trip to India, delivered the opening remarks. He explained that the key issue facing liberal arts education is making the case to convince students (and their parents) of the value of this type of education. From his time at Harvard, he has learned that it is much more important to teach students how to think than teaching specific skills – especially since many jobs that students will take in the future do not even exist yet. Elliott also discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion for higher education in relation to gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality.

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Tax Collection and Civil Society

JF17_image_Page_015_Image_0001This article was published in Harvard Magazine. It highlights the work of SAI Steering Committee Member Asim Khwaja.

By Marina N. Bolotnikova

AROUND THE WORLD, tax receipts in low- and middle-income countries are much lower than they ought to be. Poor recordkeeping makes it easy for people to pay less than they owe; distrust that taxes will be returned as government services undermines people’s willingness to pay. Absent a strong culture of civic participation, policymakers need to find ways to improve tax compliance without further degrading public faith in institutions.

Asim Khwaja, Sumitomo-FASID professor of international finance and development, who directs the Evidence for Policy Design program at the Harvard Kennedy School, has spent the last few years working with the government of Punjab (the most populous province in Pakistan, home to Lahore and more than 100 million people) to study that problem. In Pakistan, tax collectors’ salaries are largely predetermined, based on experience and education. With no financial incentive to bring in more revenue, collectors frequently collude with taxpayers, accepting large bribes in exchange for tax write-offs. Both taxpayer and tax collector thus benefit—at the expense of the state. Khwaja and his colleagues, London School of Economics professor Adnan Khan and MIT professor Benjamin Olken, thought that improving the tax collectors’ performance would be straightforward: pay them based on how much revenue they collected. And indeed this is what they found: employees incentivized in this way collected much more than employees paid through the existing system.

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‘Aesthetic approach of Islam is the way forward’

AsaniThis article was originally published by about a Jan. 13 SAI event cosponsored with Habib University.

By Haneen Rafi

KARACHI: In an attempt to deconstruct negative stereotypes about Islam that are rampant in popular discourse, there is an urgent need to understand and propagate it from an aesthetic approach, said Harvard scholar Prof Ali Asani during his talk at Habib University on Friday.

While highlighting the importance of religious and cultural literacy in a cosmopolitan world, Prof Asani gave a nuanced perspective to the differences that set us apart, which have resulted in polarisations and created conflicts.

Prof Asani teaches Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, and is also the former Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Programme at Harvard.

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