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News Category: Fellows


Arms, armor, and weapons


rrBy Meghan Smith, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, SAI

Sometimes, to shatter the glass ceiling, you need a weapon.

Rachel Parikh has plenty at her fingertips – and she wants to use them to break more than a few glass ceilings. As the Calderwood Curatorial Fellow in South Asian Art at Harvard Art Museums, she focuses her work on manuscripts, arms, and armor – yes, weapons.

She admits that even she had her own misconceptions about studying weapons.

“You often associate arms and armor with war, violence, and masculinity,” Parikh says. “I made my own PhD dissertation all about breaking misconceptions about Islamic art and South Asian art, so it was funny that I fell into this misconception about arms and armor.”

Parikh’s dissertation at the University of Cambridge focused on a seventeenth century Deccan Indian copy of a sixteenth century Persian manuscript called the Falnama (‘Book of Omens’). After completing her Ph.D. Parikh was a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she researched and cataloged objects for the museum’s Department of Arms and Armor.

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Mar. 20 – 31: Visiting Artists at Harvard


SAI is pleased to announce our Visiting Artists for the Spring semester, who will be at Harvard from March 20 – 31. During their time at Harvard, the artists will display their work on campus, meet with students, attend courses, and give a public seminar.

Check back on our site for details about the seminars.

Madhu DMadhu Das is a multi-disciplinary Visual Artist based in Mumbai, India; his artistic practice is primarily concerned with the projection of identity onto the social and natural world: in a way that the two are woven together in the Indian space (both mythic space and actual); Exploring both conceptual and material sensibilities through range of media including drawing and painting, photography, performance, video, site-specific interventions, collaborative community projects and interactive/performative installations.

In his work, human body often establish an improvisational relationship with object and sculptural elements in the space. The work has involved the spaces in both a narrative sense and as a site of memory to re-narrate historical events as a way of plotting connections between the particular and the universal. Subjectively, he adapt aspects of material culture as well as methods from anthropology, allegorical fiction as conceptual tool, which later extends to the space of the viewer, from the point of a storyteller, exploring exciting linguistic devices and imagery with a sense of irony and paradox.

Das received his Masters of Arts (Painting) from S N School of Fine Arts and Communication, Central University of Hyderabad, India in 2013. Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from College of Fine Art, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore, India 2009. He was awarded the Inlaks Fine Arts Award, Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation, India (2015) and Shortlisted for Emerging Indian Visual Artists by Delfina Foundation, UK (2014).

 

IMG_0452Rabindra Shrestha is a Nepalese visual artist. Installation, detail pen and ink drawing, painting, traditional painting (Paubha), illustration, cartoon, and ceramic art are the different mediums of his visuals expressions. Most of his art is directly conceptual based. The collaborative line art project, Earthquake line and Finger prints with red line are some of his series in the Nepali contemporary art scene. Many people refer to him as a “Line Artist”. Shrestha’s works has been exhibited throughout the National Fine Art exhibition (nine times), Kochi-Muzirise Biennale 2014 (India), and Asian Art Biennale (Bangladesh). He secured the National Special Award (NAFA) from National Academy of Fine Arts three times, and was a winner of the US embassy Art Competition (Nepal).

 

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Report: Exchanging Health Information


Network map of health data flow from paper records to consolidated databases, from the sub-center level upwards.

Network map of health data flow from paper records to consolidated databases, from the sub-center level upwards.

In September 2016, the Harvard South Asia Institute, with support from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, organized the two day seminar, Exchanging Health Information: Setting an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda. A new report contains a summary of the seminar deliberations and a roadmap for prioritizing research and policy formulation for health information exchange in India.

The seminar brought together experts in medicine, computer science, data science, public policy and law to identify a research and policy agenda that addresses implementation barriers to health information exchange. Building on international standards in health systems interoperability and learning from best practices from other industries, seminar exercises employed India as a use-case to anchor deliberations.

SAI recently spoke with seminar organizer Satchit Balsari, Fellow at Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and Chief at Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division, about the seminar and its potential impact.

SAI: Why was it important to bring together an interdisciplinary event, with experts from a variety of fields, to address implementation barriers to health information exchange?

Satchit Balsari: We have observed in many sectors that new technology best succeeds when it is in tune with user behavior and regulatory frameworks. When all three are in sync, we see widespread adoption. Problems come up when one of is out of step. The high level of provider dissatisfaction with some of the larger electronic medical records in the US, for example, is largely because front-line clinicians have had little input or control over the design and implementation of these EMRs. Standardization and interoperability to allow patients to move their records from provider to provider, or across institutions required legislation and incentivization. Retro-fitting has been expensive. Yet patients and doctors will tell you how incredibly important it is for health data to be more portable than they have typically been. Legitimate concern for data privacy thwarted portability in early years, when there may have always been technical solutions to legal concerns. Bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from clinical practice, law, policy-making and computer science allowed folks to understand the needs and limitations of each discipline, while formulating an inter-disciplinary approach to health information exchange in emerging economies.

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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 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

Resources:

Harvard International Office

Harvard Global Support Services

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Q+A: Shashank Shah, Livelihood Creation Project Director


Shashank Shah, left, at a field visit in Lucknow

Shashank Shah, left, at a field visit in Lucknow

For the past 18 months, Shashank Shah has been the Project Director for the SAI-Tata Trusts project on Livelihood Creation, which has just concluded. SAI spoke to Shah about the project and lessons learned.

SAI: Why did this project focus on the theme of livelihood creation? And how were the three tracks chosen?

Shashank Shah: Livelihood is a very big issue in India, given that India has largest population of people below the age of 35, and hence, skill-building and livelihood creation are primary issues and priorities for the government of India. They have reached out to corporations to help in this effort because they have the capacity to contribute, and they are the levers that fuel the economy of the country.

Given the expertise of social entrepreneurship by Professor Tarun Khanna [Director of the Harvard South Asia Institute], they thought it would be the best focus area for this project.

The two focuses of livelihood creation are skill building and social entrepreneurship. Skill building will give jobs to people who need them, and social entrepreneurship will lead to opportunities for self-employment, and also lead to positive social outcomes.

We identified three tracks: First, Rural livelihood creation in the Indian craft sector. This industry is the second-most employing sector in rural India, after agriculture. Rough estimates indicate that around 200 million people depend on the handicraft sector directly or indirectly. So we thought our project could try and create some kind of intervention and would benefit a large number of organizations. We had expertise in Professor Mukti Khaire.

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A new way to detect fake medicines


Technicians test antimalarial tablets on a PharmaChk device, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 5, 2016. PHOTO: WOLFGANG KRULL

Technicians test antimalarial tablets on a PharmaChk device, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 5, 2016. Photo: Wolfgang Krull

This article was originally published by the Wall Street Journal. Muhammad Zaman, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, is a visiting faculty member at SAI.

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Working Paper: Domestic Violence and Social Change: Feminist Informal Justice systems in India and Bangladesh


baisakhi fair - jaisalmer - rajasthan - india

By Fauzia Erfan Ahmed, SAI Research Affiliate, Jyotsana Parajuli, and Anna-Lucia Feldman

Although feminist endeavors have succeeded in legal reforms that criminalize gender-based violence in India and Bangladesh, it remains a pervasive obstacle to gender equality for women. Sociocultural norms, which legitimize violence against women, are a major reason. The authors argue that reform of traditional informal justice systems, which reaffirm these patriarchal norms, need to be the central focus of feminist research. This working paper explores the literature on two such innovations that aim to provide social justice for low-income women who are survivors of domestic violence: the NGO (Non Governmental Organization)-reformed shalish, which includes women jurors in Bangladesh, and the nari adalat or women’s courts, established by the Mahila Samakhya Program in India. The units of comparison are government affiliation; mediation or arbitration practices; types of disputes; and jury composition. The differences between these two feminist alternate dispute resolution bodies reveals arenas where lessons can be learned. They highlight the advantages and disadvantages of state versus NGO feminism; peer mediator versus upper class mediator; and all-female jury versus mixed-gender jury. In conclusion, the authors recommend that these feminist informal justice systems include communal harmony in their philosophy and conduct proactive outreach so that women, who have been subject to communal violence, can also be petitioners.

Read the full paper.

 

 

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Meenakshi Sengupta: Exploring gender identity in art


1J6A7002From Nov. 29 – Dec. 9, the South Asia Institute hosted artists Meenakshi Sengupta at Harvard through the Visiting Artist Program.

Born in 1987, Kolkota, India, Meenakshi holds a B.V.A. 2011 (Painting), from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India and a M.F.A. 2013 (Painting) with distinction (Gold Medal), from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India.

Since graduating, she has been practicng her art and showing it together with Gallery Maskara, Mumbai, India. In her work, she uses traditional pictorial representation to push formal and aesthetic conventions producing new meaning by using wit and irony to explore gender identity and complexities in contemporary life.

Below, is a description of Sengupta’s work in her own words.

As a young woman taking my first step into motherhood, I often find myself struggling in a world that sends conflicting messages about what a woman is or should be; patriarchy any­where continues to reinforce misguided views about women. Still excluded from discussions about war or national security, women are mostly confined to issues regarding health and fam­ily life. Why is it so difficult to see a woman as more than the sum total of her family obligations? Isn’t it possible to recognize her right to decide her own priorities?

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A change called NeHA


This article was originally published in the Indian Express.

This is in follow up to the recently held Radcliffe Advanced Seminar, “Exchanging Health Information.”

neha1

By Satchit Balsari, Fellow at the FXB Center for Human Rights and Tarun KhannaJorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, South Asia Institute

Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a world where tapping a piece of glass in the palm of your hand would allow you to watch a movie, order food, hail a cab, or transfer money without leaving your couch. Through companies like Ola, Flipkart and Chaipoint, Indian entrepreneurs have moulded Silicon Valley’s best ideas to successfully meet local needs. Yet, a decade after the ways in which we search, navigate, buy, communicate and entertain ourselves have radically changed, health-services in India remain largely unaffected by the power of the internet. We archive doctor’s prescriptions, labs and X-ray results the same way we did decades ago. Polythene bags with scraps of paper, EKG strips, and scans are carefully stored in our homes and diligently carried from one doctor to the next, from one hospital to the other — and this is the best-case scenario. To date, the vast majority of Indians has no organised medical records, whether paper or electronic.

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