SAI is uniquely situated to encourage scholarship from multiple disciplines to have a measurable impact on the lives of those in South Asia. Despite recent rapid growth in the region, a large part of South Asia remains mired in poverty. Billions are searching for a path to a better future. Harvard has the capacity to empower billions of people living in South Asia for many years to come, through its collaborations in Harvard, the US and South Asia.
The 2013–2014 academic year saw a landmark for the Harvard South Asia Institute. SAI is excited to have celebrated its tenth anniversary in September 2013, and continues its tradition to foster scholarly collaboration between Harvard and South Asian nations. In its tenth year, SAI serves as a premier center on South Asian studies and a cross-disciplinary forum and platform for myriad efforts in South Asia, including programs related to science, social entrepreneurship, gender justice and criminal law, public health and more. Over the past year, SAI has increased its educational efforts and outreach initiatives in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in other countries throughout the region.
Much has been accomplished over this milestone year. The tenth-anniversary retreat, held on September 27, 2013, focused on the future of SAI and South Asian studies. Scholars and participants from across Harvard and other institutions gathered to discuss SAI’s focus on South Asia studies through the lens of governance, health and education in South Asia. SAI’s recent Mapping India’s Kumbh Mela project was highlighted as a model for future SAI coordinated interdisciplinary research projects.
SAI has launched new and fostered ongoing projects over the past year. This year, SAI initiated its visiting fellows program, funding two scholars from the region to ‘reside’ at Harvard for the academic year to support their research on South Asia. The South Asian Studies Fellowship focuses on research in the humanities and social sciences and the Aman Fellowship supports the research on development issues related to Pakistan.
In January, SAI released its inaugural publication, Health and South Asia, which presents innovative perspectives on a wide range of health issues facing South Asians, from health care financing and patent law to trauma service and on-the-ground care. The publication, which incorporates the work of faculty, students and professionals from Harvard and around the region, serves as a site for initiating discussions on health in South Asia at Harvard.
SAI’s multi-year research projects—including the Harvard Gender Violence Project, which investigates violence prevention and intervention, as well as female education, in the region; and the Resonance Project, a Harvard-MIT-IIT science and technology project, which this past summer took form as an introduction to neuroscience program in Delhi—continues to represent a range of important research initiatives in South Asia.
This past academic year, SAI hosted over 50 seminars and conferences in Cambridge, Delhi, Dhaka, Karachi, Lahore and Mumbai; as well as a series of webinars, which provide essential, cross-institutional conduits for connecting to the region. SAI continues to support and engage in larger international assemblies, as well. In January 2014, SAI co-sponsored the Contemporary South Asian City Conference in Karachi, in partnership with the Government of Sind and Punjab, and the Pakistan Institute of Architects. This mega-conference attracted over 3,000 participants including politicians, scholars and professionals, as well as citizens from Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. Harvard faculty and graduate students presented at several panels on topics varying from housing and urban planning to public health and policy.
In February 2014, SAI and the World Bank held a corporate social responsibility summit in Mumbai on Non-State Players in Human Development: Achieving India’s Goals. This workshop, attended by executives and upper management of both public and private sector companies based in the region, focused on a corporate code of ethics and its ensuing long-term profits and benefits.
Earlier, in October 2013, Raghu Rai, the famous Indian photographer and photojournalist, presented the 2013 Mahindra lecture, as well as a photo exhibit featuring his work from over the years. In April 2014, SAI welcomes Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chair of BRAC, the world’s largest NGO and SAI’s affiliate organization. Sir Fazle delivers the 2014 Harish C. Mahindra lecture on Poverty and Development in South Asia.
SAI has awarded 47 student grants this year, and continues to sponsor fellowships and serve as a vital platform and launching pad for young scholars from across the globe to convene and research fields from anthropology, government and law, to architecture, medicine and technology. Harvard students and fellows, as well as SAI faculty and staff, remain an integral part of the Institute’s composition and contribute greatly to its current and future initiatives.
With an eye toward the future, SAI inaugurates its second decade of strengthening South Asian Studies at Harvard. We acknowledge the efforts of each you who continue to engage with SAI. Together we can fulfill our expanding mission to facilitate scholarly exchange, support faculty and students, and build a community of scholars and professionals devoted to scholarship and progress in South Asia.
Director, Harvard University South Asia Institute
Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School