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India Activities

Update from the Harvard Club of Mumbai

Building a Better India: Doing Good While Doing Well

On September 22nd, 2014, The Harvard Club of Mumbai hosted a lively panel discussion and Q&A session at Good Earth, Mumbai between prominent social entrepreneurs and eminent alumni on the future of social enterprise in India.

This panel, held in partnership with the Princeton Club and Global Shapers, Mumbai (World Economic Forum), was honored by the presence of the following prominent leaders of social change in Mumbai:

  • Aditi Shrivastava, Head, Intellecap Impact Investment Network (I3N)
  • Prerana Langa, CEO YES Bank Foundation CSR
  • Krishna Pujari, Co-Founder, Reality Tours and Travels
  • Mayank Sekhsaria, Director DD Cotton/Co-founder Greenlight Planet

These changemakers walked us through their journey in discovering how to make social change while also creating a profitable venture. They explored the challenges/rewards of building systems of social change that simultaneously serve as viable business enterprises.

They talked about how to make such ventures sustainable, how to encourage innovation in social enterprise, how to encourage socially responsible practices in the corporate sector, and similar such issues. They summed up the discussion by offering ways in which sustainable social enterprise can serve as the engine of economic development in a rapidly changing India.

Over 80 members of alumni clubs were in attendance. They enjoyed an elaborate high tea offered by Good Earth, Mumbai concurrent with alumni networking  and followed by a lively discussion and Q&A.

-Vaibhav Lodha


Are you a Harvard alum in South Asia who would like to share an update on your activities with the SAI community? Email Meghan Smith,

    2015 Student Winter Grant Recipients

    SAI has awarded 18 grants to support undergraduate and graduate student projects over the Winter Session in January, 2015. These include 6 undergraduates and 12 graduate students who will be traveling to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka for research and internships.

    The projects cover topics from many disciplines, for example: Using microfinance to alleviate poverty, sustainable housing, the “Islamization” of Divorce Law in Pakistan, vernacular literature of Indian Christians, changing education in the third world countries using cheap computing devices, and internships at health ministries in Sri Lanka.

    Graduate Students

    Arthur  Bauer, MPA-ID, Harvard Kennedy School
    Assessing microfinance’s effectiveness in alleviating poverty, India

    Jeffrey Bryant, MPP/MBA, Harvard Kennedy School/Harvard Business School
    January Term Research Position with HKS Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) India Team, India

    Ishani Desai, MPA-ID, Harvard Kennedy School
    Understanding the factors that influence adoption: A study on menstrual practices and sanitary pad adoption in Gujarat, India

    Hardeep Dhillon, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
    Research project seeks to retrieve the history of the women’s movement in the 1970’s through the collection of oral histories. Following the guidelines established by the Oral History Association, Dhillon intends to interview prominent members of the 1970’s women’s movement, India

    Joshua Ehrlich, History, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
    The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge, 1772-1835, India

    Michael Haggerty, M.Arch 1, Graduate School of Design
    Vernacular Construction for Urban Housing: New Structures for Architectural Practice to Deliver Sustainable Housing in Bangladesh

    Madiha Irfan, MTS. Harvard Divinity School
    Debates over the “Islamization” of Divorce Law in Pakistan

    Rakesh Peter Dass, Th.D., Harvard Divinity School
    Why Hindi? Translation Choices and Vernacular Literature Among Indian Christians, India

    Jonathan Phillips, PhD,Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
    Who Implements Programmatic Education Policies? Researching Surprising Patterns in Indian States, India

    Sarika Ringwala, PhD in Public Policy
    Empowering Citizens Through Service Delivery Reforms, India

    Divya Sooryakumar, Ed. M, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    Creating an SMS-based solution to an information gap for mothersto enhance their early childhood education and development practices for infants through the first 3 years of their lives, India

    Hector Tarrido Picart, MAUD & MLA, Graduate School of Design
    Remote Sensing Mumbai, India

    Maria Qazi, MPA-ID, Harvard Kennedy School
    Social protection and state legitimacy – the Case of Benazir Income Support Program



    Chesley Ekelem, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Health Policy, Harvard College ‘16
    Internship with St. Jude ChildCare Centres, Mumbai, India

    Angela Leocata, Harvard College ’18
    Little Stars Internship to Develop English and Writing Program, Varanasi, India

    Fei (Michelle) Lin, Human Developmental and Regenerative Bio, Harvard College ‘17
    Internship at Heal Asia’s inaugural project – Sri Lanka Medical Relief Program, Sri Lanka Ministry of Health, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

    Jacqueline Ma, Human Developmental and Regenerative Bio and East Asian Studies, Harvard College ’16
    Internship at HealAsia, Sri Lanka Ministry of Health, Colombo, Sri Lanka

    Tarik Adnan Moon, Mathematics and Computer Science, Harvard College ‘15
    Research on changing education in the third world countries using cheap computing devices, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    Ishani Premaratne, Anthropology and Health Policy, Harvard College ’15
    Work on GrowLanka and completion of partnership with Sri Lankan Youth Ministry, Vavuniya, Sri Lanka


    Read the SAI 2014 Student Grant Report

      SAI Fellowships

      SAI offers three opportunities for scholars and practitioners to continue their research at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

      Fellows are expected to reside in the Cambridge vicinity during the time of their award and to actively participate in the events and intellectual life of the Institute. Fellows are also expected to contribute to the greater Harvard community by teaching, mentoring, or advising students. In addition to the stipend, fellows are provided with health insurance, as well as transportation costs for those traveling from South Asia to Cambridge.

      Aman Fellowship

      SAI offers three opportunities for scholars and practitioners to continue their research at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fellows are expected to reside in the Cambridge vicinity during the time of their award and to actively participate in the events and intellectual life of the Institute. Fellows are also expected to contribute to the greater Harvard community by teaching, mentoring, or advising students. In addition to the stipend, fellows are provided with health insurance, as well as transportation costs for those traveling from South Asia to Cambridge.
      Total stipend for one term: $20,000

      Babar Ali Fellowship

      The Babar Ali Fellowship supports recent PhDs, those in the final stages of their PhDs, and advanced professional degree holders in areas related to Pakistan.
      Priority will be given to candidates who demonstrate prior educational history that has taken place largely in Pakistan, and plan to return to Pakistan upon completion of the fellowship.
      Total stipend for one term: $20,000

      South Asian Studies Fellowship

      The South Asian Studies Fellowship supports recent PhDs in the humanities and social sciences related to South Asia. Research topics can cover any period of South Asian history or contemporary South Asia. Candidates must be able to provide evidence of successful completion of their PhD by June of the year of appointment and may not be more than five years beyond the receipt of PhD.
      Total stipend for one year: $40,000

      Deadline: January 15, 2015 for Academic Year 2015-2016

      News about SAI’s Fellows.


      Reflections from SAI Fellows:

      “The Aman Fellowship provided me an opportunity to take advantage of Harvard’s resources for my research and to connect with leading academics and researchers in the world. I discovered new avenues for my research and I will be following these leads in my academic career. I also used this opportunity to develop and submit different proposals for my future research projects in Pakistan and abroad.”

      -Muhammad Zahir, SAI Aman Fellow, Spring 2014

      “The fellowship gave me the the chance to get involved with different types of discourse on South Asia.”

      -Shankar Ramaswami, SAI South Asian Studies Fellow, 2013-2014

      “A number of my friends who were involved in environmentalist NGOs in India were talking about the new Forest Rights Act, and I decided to focus on it for my dissertation. And it’s that work on this law, and the movements that helped pass it, and the groups now involved in organizing people to claim land rights through it, that I wrote my dissertation on, and it’s that work that I am continuing right now at the South Asia Institute. I’m writing articles based on the research I did for my PhD, and I’m beginning my book manuscript”

      - Anand Vaidya, current SAI South Asian Studies Fellow, 2014-2015

        Mass casualty triage

        Mass casualty incidents, from terrorist attacks, floodings, earthquakes to bus accidents, are chaotic. With proper knowledge about the principles of triage, even those with no medical training can help.

        Mass casualty triage was the topic of SAI’s second webinar of the semester, on Nov. 19, on disaster management with Dr. Usha Periyanayagam (@uperiy), MD, MPH, International Emergency Medicine Fellow, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School.

        Eight universities from three countries in South Asia participated in the interactive session, using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), with a participation of around 100 students in South Asia, with many more watching online.

        Watch the presentation.

        Dr. Periyanayagam has worked with SAI and the Aman Foundation to improve disaster response in Karachi, and has extensive experience in emergency settings around the world.

        During the webinar, Dr. Periyanayagam explained that “triage” is not treatment – it is a method of sorting injured people and deciding who gets treatment first. “The goal of triage is doing the greatest good for the greatest number – it’s not doing everything you can for every patient,” Dr. Periyanayagam explained. She cited the 2013 Boston marathon bombing as an example of triage working correctly – of the 250 who were injured, no one who was transported to hospital died.

        In many places in the developing world, including South Asia, inefficient triage can lead to patients dying who could have otherwise been saved. For example, if someone is slightly injured but is still able to yell and talk, they are sometimes the first taken to the hospital because they are persistent. With proper triage, they should be the last treated – those who are most injured are the ones who can not vocalize that they need help.

        For people with no medical training, Dr. Periyanayagam explained that there are four main questions that should be used to evaluate each injured person:

        1. Can they walk? Anyone who is able to walk on their own should be separated from the more seriously injured.
        2. Can they breathe? Ask people if they need help, and anyone who can yell or scream is able to breathe sufficiently.
        3. Do they have a pulse? Another useful tip is to test their capillary refill – if you press on their skin and the color does not quickly go back to normal, they are seriously injured.
        4. Can they follow commands? Whether or not they are following instructions is an indicator of their mental state.

        After a 15-30 second evaluation for each injured person using the questions above, Dr. Periyanayagam explained the process of color coding the injured. It is important to keep groups separate if possible to prevent confusion. The injured should be split in to four color categories, which will indicate how quickly they should get to a hospital:

        1. Black: Dead or unsalvageable, and will be brought to the morgue.
        2. Red: In need of immediate treatment, and will go to a hospital first. Red patients have abnormal breathing, pulse, and mental status.
        3. Yellow: Will receive delayed treatment. They have normal breathing, normal cap refill, and normal mental status.
        4. Green: Anyone who is wounded but walking – they should go to a clinic or somewhere other than hospital.

        Dr. Periyanayagam also shared some tips for treating patients in the field even if you do not have a medical background. Controlling hemorrhage should be the first task, since loss of blood frequently leads to death for trauma patients.

        First, pressure should be applied to the site that is bleeding, even if it causes pain. Dr. Periyanayagam said that many people make the mistake of not pressing hard enough because it pains the patient. Next, the bleeding body part can be lifted above the heart, which can help stop the bleeding.

        Dr. Periyanayagam explained that tourniquets should be used only if all other attempts to control bleeding has failed. A tourniquet is a device used to stop bleeding by tying something tight above the injured body part, but can be dangerous and can cause damage. A tourniquet can be made with what is available, for example a scarf or belt, and should not be used for more than 90 minutes, or the result can be permanent damage.

        Spinal immobilization is also important to make sure that a person is not paralyzed. Dr. Periyanayagam explained that it is important that the injured cannot turn their back or neck, so use anything you have available to immobilize them – for example, two shoes taped around the head. A splint can also be made using available materials, to set a broken leg or arm.

        The webinar was a valuable instructional tool in the principles of triage, that should be widely known to everyone, even those not in the medical community. “Doing something is still better than doing nothing,” Dr. Periyanayagam said, in situations with mass casualties.

        Students and faculty at participating universities had the opportunity to ask Dr. Periyanayagam questions directly during the webinar, as well as on social media. (See the conversation on Twitter here). Participating universities included Christ University in Bangalore, India, De La Salle University, Manila, Phillippines, and several universities from all over Pakistan.

        The next webinar is TBD. Please check our website for updates. We will be adding more resources to our website in the future.

        Watch the full presentation

        Learn more about SAI Webinars

        Webinar on Incident Command

          2014 Student Grant Report

          SAI offers research and internship grants to Harvard graduate students and Harvard college undergraduate students (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors) to be used during the summer and winter sessions.

          In 2014, SAI awarded 46 grants to students to do a variety internships and research projects in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Grant recipients represent the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, College, Graduate School of Design, Divinity School, Kennedy School, Medical School, and School of Public Health.

          In the SAI 2014 Grant Report, students reflect on their experience and what they learned.

          Examples of testimonials:

          “I can confidently say that this internship has brought me a long away, from my theoretical conception of environmental policy from Harvard courses, with a deeper understanding of the profession,  practice, and substance of environmental law and policy.”

          -Sabrina Ghouse, Social Studies & Environment, Harvard College 2015; Internship with United Nations Development Programme

          “My visit has allowed me to think more broadly about the relationship between private enterprise and urban planning and design in the context of developing countries.”

          -Justin D. Stern, PhD Candidate, Architecture & Urban Planning, Graduate School of Design; Research: Between Industrialization and Urban Planning: Tata Steel and the Two Faces of Jamshedpur

          “What was originally meant to be a preliminary research trip, morphed into a rather substantial research, far exceeding my expectations.”

          -Lydia Walker, PhD Candidate, Department of History, GSAS; National Separatist Movements in the Early 1960s in South Asia and Southern Africa

          “When my friends and coworkers asked me why I was so delighted to be in the city despite the monstrous heat, I’d say in absolute earnest that I have a big crush on Delhi: on its long afternoons working out some idea for a paper with friends over chai; on its lecture- and music- and addafilled evenings. I hope to return to Delhi after graduation for continued study and research”

          -Reina Gattuso, Literature and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard College 2015; Lokniti Program, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

          “Working with my other lab members, I was able to learn about science and the culture of India simultaneously. In between performing behavioral tests and analyzing our data, we would chitchat about everything from the must-see attractions in India to the country’s education system.”

          -Jacqueline Ma, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Harvard College 2016; Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore

          Spending a summer exploring the educational system in India was both sobering and enlightening. Nevertheless, every experience reinforced the importance of education.”

          -Sara Melissa Theiss, Psychology, Harvard College 2015, Prasad Fellow; VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, Uttar Pradesh

          “Although the summer is indeed a very hot time in Delhi and not the most comfortable period of the year to reside there, this summer confirmed my belief that the city is a growing hub of intellectual activity and energy… An entire scholarly community from around the world descends upon Delhi during this time. I had the opportunity engage with and be part of this group, and I am extremely grateful.”

          -Madhav Khosla, PhD Candidate, Department of Government; Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

          “While both of us have worked in India before, this was also the first time we had run our own survey. We became very aware of all of the things, small and large, that can go wrong when doing fieldwork. The grant from SAI gave us the opportunity to run a small pilot survey that gave us the experience we needed so that our future surveys are run more smoothly.”

          -Heather Sarsons, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, GSAS; Dowry Payments and Female Welfare in India


          Click here to read the full report.


          Summer Grant Applications Deadlines:
          All Graduate Grant Applications: February 13, 2015
          All Undergraduate Grant Applications: February 9, 2015

            Capturing South Asia: Interview with Pablo Bartholomew

            Bartholomew speaks about Indian photography at his seminar on Nov. 5

            Indian photographer Pablo Bartholomew, whose career spans 40 years, has witnessed many of South Asia’s tragedies and triumphs – perhaps most famously the gas tragedy in Bhopal

            Bartholomew was the first artist to come to Harvard as part of SAI’s new Arts Initiative, which brings experienced and emerging artists to Cambridge whose work focus is on social issues related to South Asia, with support from the Donald T. Regan Lecture Fund. His works have been published in the New York TimesNewsweekTimeBusiness Week, and National Geographic.

            Bartholomow spoke at two SAI events during his week at Harvard. In a seminar on Nov. 4, ‘Anatomy of a Man-Made Disaster: Thirty Years Later, Remembering the Bhopal Gas Tragedy’, he spoke about his first-hand experience documenting the world’s worst industrial disaster. In A Personalized History of Indian Photography, 1880 to 2010,  Bartholomow took the audience on a photographic journey in which he shared a collection of Indian photographers who have influenced him.

            Bartholomew’s exhibit Coded Elegance will be on display at Harvard until Jan. 31, 2015 (CGIS South Concourse, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA; Open to the public Mondays-Thursdays 7am – 9pm; Fridays 7am – 7pm.) Coded Elegance is a series of ethno-anthropological photographs of tribes and people of the hills and valleys of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur, taken from 1989 to 2000.

            READ: Audience reactions to Bartholomew’s photography.


            During his visit to Harvard, SAI sat down with Bartholomew to discuss his photo exhibit, the aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy, how photojournalism is changing, and how his South Asian heritage has influenced his work:

            Bartholomew’s photo from Bhopal won the 1984 World Press Photo of the Year.
            All rights reserved, Pablo Bartholomew

            SAI: You said in your seminar on Bhopal that you viewed the victims’ lack of compensation as a “collective failure of the media.” What would success have looked like to you?

            PB: Well, success for Bhopal would have been ten times, or a hundred times the volume of money, and the money actually reaching the victims and cutting out all the fraud, red tape, and all the corruption. That’s one part of it. The other, if there was a lot more money and a vision, then the cleanup, which is equally important, could have been completed at a very early stage.

            Right now they don’t know what to do with all the chemicals sitting in there. It could have environmental consequences and health issues. There is talk about creating a dump to get rid of the chemicals – but where is that dump going to be? How is it going to be contained? So it’s one of those industrial issues, a modern contemporary issue, that is the same thing as what’s happened in Japan [the earthquake in Fukushima].

            SAI: How do you think people are viewing the tragedy now, and how has this changed over time?

            PB: People are just now tired. That’s what happens to anything – there’s a fatigue that sets in. It’s the same way that journalism has changed and the media has changed, because you hardly have any hard news anymore – it’s all about lifestyle and fashion, about people’s aspirations, because that’s easier to do, rather than look at the bad and the ugly.

            SAI: How has photojournalism changed?

            PB: There is no money now for long-term projects which show depth and have density. Right now, everything is about illustration. Now, media is being run by lawyers and bankers. It’s not being run by the old-style editorial people. It’s not just India – I’m talking worldwide, in America and the West. Everything is in flux. Look at Time magazine or Newsweek. And part of it is that the Internet has thrown the media houses into flux, because they didn’t know how to deal with the change and create a revenue model.

            SAI: If a tragedy like Bhopal happened this year, would the media have reacted differently?

            PB: Well, you would have had a lot more cell phone photos and much more immediate coverage. Citizen journalism would be thriving and active.

            Coded Elegance will be on display at Harvard until Jan. 2015.All rights reserved, Pablo Bartholomew.

            SAI:  For people who are citizen journalists, and post photos on Instagram, there is a debate about whether that is good or bad for photography – what do you think?

            PB: I don’t have a problem with any of that personally, because I use this analogy: Everybody can write, but who are the great writers, who can move people with their writing beyond cultural boundaries? It’s the same thing – everybody can photograph and make compelling pictures at a certain moment in time. It’s all a question of here and now. But what they do with their thought process, and how they continue to create year after year, is what matters.

            The only thing that bothers me with the blogging and Instagram, is the process of authentication. In a media house, you always have the scenario where the journalist on the field reported, then there were researchers who fact-checked, and there was an editorial layer of what makes a story. That has its upsides and downsides.

            SAI: SAI’s Arts Initiative brings artists to Harvard whose work focuses on social change. Can you talk about how you see art or photography playing a role in making social change?

            Pablo Bartholomew: I don’t know if social change is possible like a pill, where you take a pill and your headache goes away. I think it’s much more of a very slow process. If people are looking for immediate results, I don’t think that there is going to be that sort of instant gratification. I think any kind of change is a gradual process, and then once you have marked the beginning, then you can see how much progress there is. And of course, people have to be prepared for failure. And that’s one of the humbling aspects, to see how that failure can be gratifying.

            SAI: Can you talk about your exhibit [Coded Elegance] that is on display? It’s so vibrant and colorful. What drew you to the Nagas people, and lead you to document them?

            PB: Many of my personal bodies of work have a resonance with family. There are 30 Naga tribes between Arunachal, Nagaland, and Manipur, which border Burma to the East and Arunachal on the North borders China. It was originally the Nagas in Nagaland that I went to photograph and discover for myself, because of childhood stories. When my father was escaping the Japanese during the Second World War, and walking to India, he encountered the Naga tribes. Currently, I am trying to find permission to walk the route, the General Stilwell Route, into Burma, a 30-day march that my father walked.

            This project has a resonance and family history for me. When I went there [Nagaland], I found this amazingly beautiful people. For other exhibits I have done on the Nagas people, I called them ‘Marked with Beauty.’

            This exhibit is called ‘Coded Elegance,’ which points a finger at the fashion industry in India,  because this [the Nagas] is true fashion. Every object that they wear, or every piece of fabric or jewelry or marking, has a meaning. You can only get certain markings or wear certain jewelry if you have achieved a certain kind of merit. Everything is very visual. That is why there is a ‘Code.’

            SAI: While you were working on the exhibit, did you ever feel like an outsider trying to understand this code?

            PB: No – I feel much closer to that end of the world anyway, since my mother is half from Bengal, in the East, and my father is from Burma. I have always been fascinated by tribes, and tribal people. I started to make many friends with the Nagas kids who came to study in Delhi, so there was already a bond. Through them, I learned about their culture.

            SAI: How were you received as someone looking to document their culture? Were they open to sharing?

            PB: Not necessarily. That’s part of the hardship – it [the photo collection] took me about 10 years, from 1989 to 2000. There is a fair amount of time that I invested in the region. Many of these practices now are ceremonial or hidden.

            SAI: Can you talk about the colors – they are so vibrant in this exhibit. On the other hand, many of your Bhopal photos are black and white. How do you see the difference between black and white and color photography? Is that always a conscious choice?

            PB: Black and white is beautiful – but it lost its commercial applicability within the media after the mid-80s. Then everything went color. For many years, even Time magazine in the 80s published black and white, until they went color. It’s kind of sad that you couldn’t shoot black and white. On the other hand, to be able to masterfully handle color is not the easiest thing. Now, with the digital era, it has become much easier.

            SAI: What is your process like as a photographer – are you always in the photographer mindset?

            PB: I think it’s a natural process of having a recording device with you. Not always is what you do is great – you fail a lot, and it’s the jewels that shine through.

            SAI: One of SAI’s Seminar Series tracks is ‘South Asia Without Borders.’ In your work, how do you see borders in South Asia, and also as someone whose heritage represents many countries in South Asia?

            PB: That is something I’m working on – I’m starting in Burma, and I plan to work over the next 5 years all over the region. I will work in Bangladesh, Pakistan, in India, all to connect the family thread.


            This interview has been edited lightly for clarity and length.


            -Meghan Smith

              The Future of India’s Space Mission: Mars and Beyond

              By Jaganath Sankaran

              Jaganath Sankaran is a postdoctoral research associate at the National Security Education Center at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Sankaran wrote his doctoral dissertation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy on the topic of space security. Part of this opinion piece has been adapted from the author’s article titled: “Space Cooperation: A Vital New Front for India-U.S. Relations” published in Space News. The opinions expressed in the article are solely the author’s do not represent the positions of any organization.

              Sankaran spoke at a SAI seminar last February: China-India Space Race: Rhetoric or Reality? 

              India’s Mars probe, Mangalyaan, was successfully placed on an orbit around the red planet on the 24th of September, 2014. The event has sparked an outpouring of nationalistic pride in India in response to the scientific achievement. The positive reaction is richly deserved by India’s Space Research Organization. Placing a research satellite around Mars is, indeed, a difficult task.

              A number of missions by other advanced scientific nations have failed in the past. In 1998, for example, Japan failed to place its Nozomi spacecraft on a Mars Orbit due to a malfunctioning valve that led to propellant leakage. More recently, in 2011, Russian Phobos-Grunt and Chinese Mars orbiter Yinghuo-1 failed due to problems with the launch vehicle. Since 1998, the U.S. has attempted ten missions to Mars of which three failed. Similarly, since 1998, the European Space Agency has managed to place only one of its Mars orbiters out of two attempts.

              All of this data points to the significance of the India’s achievement. A number of things could have gone wrong in a Martian mission. India’s Space Research Organization—to its credit—managed to anticipate and avoid such pitfalls in its first Mars mission.

              What is next on the agenda for India? India has a number of space exploration missions lined up for the future. One is a follow on to its first Moon mission, Chandrayaan-II. There is apparently also plans to launch a spacecraft—Aditya-I—to study solar coronal mass ejections.

              Important as these scientific space explorations missions may be, however, India’s major initiatives in space continue to be focused on earth missions that have more immediate applications.  Specifically, some of these missions will be undertaken in cooperation with the United States. In 2012, India and the U.S. signed implementing agreements for active collaborative on the U.S.-led Global Precipitation Measurement project. India’s Megha-Tropiques, a satellite mission to study the water cycle in the tropical region in the context of climate change, forms part of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission being led by the U.S. and Japan.

              More recently, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Indian Space Research Organization have agreed to collaborate and plan to launch an L- and S-band synthetic aperture radar satellite for weather-related research. By gathering data in two wavelengths, researchers hope to be able to more accurately observe and classify varieties in vegetation, measure changes in the amount of carbon stored in vegetation, and observe changes in soil moisture.

              This joint mission is part of a NASA plan to launch a series of water and drought monitoring satellites over the next several years designed to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems, and to better visualize the changes occurring on Earth. This joint mission is expected to fulfill some of the key scientific objectives of NASA’s proposed Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) mission.

              The U.S. National Research Council in 2007 identified DESDynI as a top Earth Science priority, but budget pressures have confined the mission to the drawing board. Working together, India and the U.S. will be able to obtain data on some of the DESDynI objectives.

              Such joint ventures, given national budgetary constraints under which spacefaring nations like the United States and India operate, is an effective means to further the understanding of Earth’s ecosystem. Such ventures also strengthen relationships between the two countries.


                Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai win Nobel Peace Prize

                The Harvard South Asia Institute is thrilled to hear the news that Kailash Satyarthi of India and Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 for their incredible efforts in improving the lives of children worldwide.

                Kailash Satyarthi has followed in Gandhi’s footsteps in promoting peaceful and nonviolent means to ending the grave exploitation of children and promoting children’s rights. Malala Yousafzai became an international spokesperson for the right of girls to education after being shot by the Taliban.

                “We should, in our own small way as the South Asia Institute, capitalize on the attention towards these important social issues that these Peace Prize awards will generate,” said Tarun Khanna, Director of SAI and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School. ”SAI does a lot of work on gender-related issues, and increasingly on education of children, and it behooves us to redouble those efforts.”


                Jacqueline Bhabha

                SAI spoke with Jacqueline Bhabha, FXB Director of Research, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, whose own research focuses on human rights, trafficking, and gender in South Asia, on the significance of the awards.

                SAI: What do you think stands out about the work that these two figures have done, that got the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee?

                Jacqueline Bhabha: I think what’s really interesting is that on the one hand you have somebody [Satyarthi] who is a mature, seasoned human rights activist, who is well known to people working on child labor, and child exploitation for decades, and has really been in the trenches and has taken enormous personal risk and sacrifices to carry on the work he has done with a range of different strategies: working with trade unions, mentoring children, and using the courts. He has been a tremendously creative and inventive human rights advocate.

                And on the other hand you have this young teenager [Yousafzai] who shows incredible personal courage in one extraordinary incident, and has built on that to make quite a focused campaign on gender and education. So there is an interesting contrast in strategy, skill sets, and experience. But in both cases, clearly, what the Nobel committee was struck by was the vision and courage of two very different individuals.

                SAI: What do you see as the significance of giving the award to both an Indian and a Pakistani at the same time?

                JB: It’s interesting, in that it draws attention to South Asia, which is a critical hotspot for children’s rights, which is important, even though issues of infant mortality and morbidity are very much widely spread –  plus, incidents of child rights abuses happen everywhere, South Asia is a particularly dark spot when we look at child labor, child marriage, and sexual slavery. So I think drawing attention to the continent rather than one country is interesting.

                However, there is nothing quintessential about South Asia which says this region has to be mired in child rights abuses. Bangladesh has made enormous progress as a poorer country with very complicated political history and lots of natural disasters, yet has made progress on both child labor and girl’s education, and has made dramatic strives compared to India and Pakistan. So I think that’s a point worth making, that even though South Asia is a very dark spot globally, there are little tiny pockets within South Asia of very good practices.

                SAI: Will this award help in bringing attention to these issues in South Asia, and worldwide?

                JB: Absolutely. I do think it will do that for both the Indian and Pakistani government, but more generally, it will really draw attention to the pervasive reality of crimes against children.

                I think one other point that’s worth making is that in a way, Kailesh and Malala represent two points of extreme on the spectrum. One of them draws attention to one of the worst abuses, and a lot of [Kailash’s work] in rescuing children from slavery really brought attention to the endemic nature of these kinds of violations. On the other hand, Malala represents the critical preventative strategy for trafficking, which is education – the best way of addressing the poverty, destitution and entrapment of children – through enhancing their education to help them escape from illiteracy and exploitation. So the two different awards really cover the spectrum.

                SAI: How do you see the work that they are doing possibly translated outside of South Asia, to other countries?

                JB: I think these examples are much broader than their relevant countries. Both these people have a global significance, and I think the strategies in countering child labor, for example, thinking about rescuing, thinking about organizing, thinking about globalization of workers, are strategies that have been adopted by countries in Latin America. I think the whole connection between gender and education is something that also is worth thinking about much more broadly.

                I think this [award] is something that advocates can use and I think that politicians will have to pay attention to.

                SAI: Malala was already such an international figure in the media, but Kailash wasn’t as widely known. Do you think this award the potential to catapult his platform to the forefront?

                JB: Of course. It happened with Shirin Ebadi years ago, the Iranian peace laureate, when no one outside of Iran had really heard of her work. Then, it became a flashpoint of people talking about human right violations in Iran, and persecution in Iran. Although some of us have followed Kailash’s work for decades, he wasn’t as much of a household name as Malala. This will certainly be something that will raise his profile and the many different strategies he has used to address child labor.

                This interview has been edited lightly for clarity and length.  

                  The future of nutrition

                  Faculty and students at the 2013 nutrition course in Banglaore

                  Nutrition is crucial to global health. Emerging demographic, economic and dietary factors suggest that a large burden of preventable illness is poised to develop in India requiring training for a new cadre of Indian nutrition scientists. There is a great need for nutrition researchers in the country, but few training programs exist.

                  In response to this critical gap in training, the Bangalore Boston Nutrition Collaborative (BBNC) was initiated in 2009 to connect faculty at St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore (SJRI) with colleagues at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Tufts University in Boston.

                  The Collaborative was designed to build capacity and to provide research training for young professionals in the fields of nutrition and global health from India, and subsequently other countries in the region.

                  Lead by Dr. Christopher Duggan, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, HSPH, Director, Center for Nutrition at Boston Children’s Hospital, the BBNC was awarded the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative award in 2013, an award that aims to strengthen collaboration and builds partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education in priority fields.

                  SAI supports the project, as its goals align with SAI’s own vision of interdisciplinary collaboration to seek innovative solutions to critical issues in South Asia.

                  Since 2010, the BBNC has provided over 100 students from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uganda with a unique global health education experience and an opportunity to explore new approaches and strategies to solve nutrition-based public health problems in an intensive two-week course in India.

                  “All of these graduates have returned to their home institution to work on advanced nutritional studies and programs, and many have junior colleagues that they are training,” said Duggan on the effect of the program. “We have an impact on research capacity building throughout the region.”

                  The most recent course took place from January 20 – 31, 2014, with 41 students in Bangalore. Participants included medical students, physicians and allied health professionals, as well as junior faculty in medicine, nursing, and public health at academic institutions throughout India. The course sessions were led by faculty from varying disciplines from SJRI and HSPH. Duggan said that the close interactions with faculty members were a highlight of the course.

                  The course allows students to gain substantive knowledge in topic areas related to public health nutrition research, including: clinical nutrition, physiology, biochemistry, and molecular nutrition. Students enhance their methodological skills in areas of nutritional, infectious disease, and chronic disease epidemiology, with emphasis on clinical, research, and laboratory areas.

                  The BBNC encourages students to continue their training after the course, and the BBNC website posts links to recordings of seminars held at HPSH.

                  Other Harvard faculty that have been involved in the course include Richard Cash, senior lecturer on global health, Ronald Bosch, senior research scientist in biostatistics, David Hunter, Vincent L. Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention, Anuraj Shankar, senior research scientist in nutrition, and SV Subramanian, professor of population health and geography.

                  With support from the United States India Education Foundation, the Collaborative has secured 3 more years of funding, and hopes to continue its work in other countries, including Nepal and Uganda.


                  Portions of this article were been adapted from: Kuriyan et al. BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:5

                  Christopher Duggan, HSPH, contributed to this article.

                    Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative: A Summer of Intellectual and Cultural Exchange in India

                    This article originally appeared on the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology website

                    By Sophie Blum

                    Annie Arrighi-Allisan (Harvard College, Class of 2015) applied to the Harvard-Bangalore Science Initiative (HBSI) because, “as a neurobiology student, I wanted to gain experience in the lab, and as a curious young adult, I wanted to see the world.”

                    MCB’s Venkatesh Murthy, member of SAI’s Steering Committee, founded the Initiative in 2007 with SEAS Professor L. Mahadevan and Professor Vijay Raghavan, then-director of Bangalore’s National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS). “I started this initiative with two simple goals,” says Murthy: first, “to expose students at Harvard to science in a very different setting (culturally, economically, and geographically) to illustrate how universal it is, and second, to establish ties with leading institutions in India for potential collaboration among faculty and researchers.” Each summer since, the HBSI has sent a batch of 3-10 undergraduates to India for a 10-12 week research internship at one of Bangalore’s world-class scientific institutions.

                    Thanks to financial support from The Harvard University South Asia Institute, the David Rockefeller Foundation, and room and board generously provided by the NCBS, the internship program runs at cost with no additional fees to students other than off-campus expenses.

                    In 2011 Murthy recruited Ryan Draft, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neurobiology, to help administer the program. Draft’s own international experiences influenced him profoundly throughout his career, and he enjoys sharing that eye-opening opportunity with his undergraduate advisees. For the first two weeks, Draft accompanies students in Bangalore, helping them find their bearings at the research center, master the logistical challenges of living abroad in India, and settle into their labs.

                    Students reside in dormitories on the NCBS campus surrounded by mango and eucalyptus groves. As ordinary members of their lab, interns attend lab meetings, journal clubs, and weekly lectures. While such lectures are not mandatory, attendance is high among the close-knit NCBS community and, as Ryan Draft observes, HBSI interns are soon and swiftly swept up in the lab culture. NCBS’s relatively small lab-size (10-15 people) and central café contribute to students’ rapid integration as they hob-nob with grad students, postdocs, and faculty over tea and snacks.

                    Weekend excursions, often a highlight among students’ reminiscences, are neither prescribed nor supervised, and largely depend on students’ interests and appetite for adventure. Reliably, lab-mates are happy to recommend tourist destinations, hidden gems, rugged treks, and travel routes. Arrighi-Allisan, who completed her internship two summers ago, recalls, “While we were promised to our host labs during the week, we used our weekends to travel around Southern India and explore our less-cushioned surroundings. We saw the grand palace at Mysore, lounged by the picturesque beaches and toured the fragrant spice plantation in Goa, explored the backwaters of Kerala by houseboat, and toured the hidden ruins of Hampi.”

                    HBSI is open to students from all areas pertinent to the biological sciences, including, but not limited to, the life sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science. This summer’s interns tackled everything from predicting protein structures using computational molecular biology, to the neurobiology of behavior, looking at fear learning in the amygdala. Other projects employed atmospheric chemistry—characterizing aerosols and radiative forcing—or mechanical engineering, motor control, and robotics.

                    While recommended for rising juniors and seniors, the program admits students of all ages, from those just starting out in the sciences to those who know exactly what they want to work on. 2013 intern Michael Drumm recommends the program to “those who look forward to being put slightly outside of their comfort zone with the hope of greatly expanding that zone by the end of the summer.” Drumm himself testifies to having transformed over the course of the summer: Overwhelmed by the environmental displacement, “The first few weeks I was completely lost [but] by the end of the summer, I was completely comfortable and extremely enjoyed navigating the bustling streets of Bangalore to find some late-night chaats, taking one-way tickets to weekend getaways, finding my way back somehow, and conversing in broken Hindi to people on the street.”

                    At Harvard, the vast majority of study-abroad programs are humanities-based. While the mind-broadening perspective stimulated by experience abroad “is an essential part of undergraduate education in the 21st century for all students,” according to Draft, “these programs often lack any element of professional development for science students.” “In as much as the enterprise of scientific research is an international one,” he continues, “the sooner we educate students to think globally in training and collaborating as a scientists, the better.” As Drumm puts it, even when “the work is similar to that which you can find in the States, the people you work with come from different backgrounds and can impart different insights and knowledge to the same problems.”

                    While the HBSI internship is going strong, the initiative’s fundamental mission of international collaboration and intellectual exchange allows for ample expansion. Ideally, Murthy anticipates, “I would like to see bidirectional exchange of scholars at all levels—for example, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from Harvard establishing collaborative projects and spending time in Bangalore, and complementarily, scholars from Bangalore coming to Harvard.”  The future is promising; Murthy notes that “the Harvard South Asia Institute has taken a keen interest in catalyzing these ideas, and I am working closely with them to make these ideas a reality!”

                      Fall Webinars: Disaster Management

                      Join the South Asia Institute for three interactive webinar events with Harvard University Fellows on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.


                      South Asia is particularly vulnerable to disasters, from terrorist attacks, to floodings, to earthquakes that can affect large populations. In order to address these humanitarian crises, the fundamentals of mass casualty management are critical.These interactive webinars will highlight the work being done to systematically improve the response to emergencies in urban settings.

                      How to participate:

                      PREPARE: Visit SAI’s website to find articles and readings to prepare for the webinars.
                      WATCH: One the day of the webinar, watch live on SAI’s website
                      INTERACT: Tweet your questions and join the conversation on Facebook

                      Twitter: @HarvardSAI, #SAIWebinar
                      Facebook: Harvard SAI

                      INCIDENT COMMAND
                      Wednesday, October 1
                      Shawn D’Andrea, MDInstructor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
                      This seminar will teach incident command, which is a simple organizational structure that allows a coordinated thoughtful response when the needs of the crisis overwhelm the resources.
                      8:30 AM in Cambridge, 5:30 PM in Pakistan, 6 PM in India, 6:30 PM in Sri Lanka & Bangladesh

                      MASS CASUALTY TRIAGE
                      Wednesday, November 19
                      Usha Periyanayagam, MD, International Emergency Medicine Fellow, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School
                      When there are many injured people in an incident, non-medical personal might be needed to begin care of patients. This seminar will teach triage, a simple way to determine the priority of patient treatment, and the basics of treatment of patients.
                      8:30 AM in Cambridge, 6:30 PM in Pakistan, 7 PM in India, 7:30 PM in Sri Lanka, & Bangladesh (* Please note the time variation due to US Daylight Saving Time)


                      PLANNING AND PREPAREDNESS
                      Date/Time TBD
                      Mass casualty responses work best when there is a well-rehearsed plan. This seminar will cover planning for a disaster, preparatory drills, and debriefing, drawing from the experience of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.



                      If your school or organization has video conferencing capabilities and you would like to host a site for this webinar, email us! Host sites will have the opportunity to ask the professors questions in real time. We welcome participation of sites throughout South Asia.

                      Made possible with generous support from the Pakistan Higher Education Commission.

                        Chennai celebrates Harvard Day

                        Pianist Anil Srinivasan

                        Harvard University, established in 1636, celebrated its 378th anniversary on September 8th, 2014. Coincidentally, Chennai (formerly called Madras) in Tamil Nadu, India, celebrated its 350th anniversary on the same day with week-long festivities. In partnership the Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI), the Harvard Club of Chennai celebrated the historic event in a unique gathering that included a cartoonist, pianist, and a quiz about famous Harvard quotes.

                        Although light-hearted, the event skillfully brought out threads of commonality between the iconic institution of Harvard, the oldest institute of higher education in the United States, and the historic city of Chennai, the oldest modern city of India. Through art and music, the event displayed how both have the potential to catalyze social change.

                        The event was held at The Forum, a leading art gallery in Chennai where cartoonist Biswajit Balasubramanian and pianist Anil Srinivasan joined forces to produce a music-and-cartoon event depicting the humorous side of the often serious business of life in Chennai. Also on exhibition were a collection of over 100 Chennai-themed cartoons drawn by Biswajit over the years. Anil Srinivasan is a classical pianist, best known for his collaborative work with Carnatic vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan.

                        • It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds. A Harvard education and a Yale degree.” - John F. Kennedy
                        • Harvard makes mistakes too, you know. Kissinger taught there.” - Woody Allen
                        • A Harvard Medical School study has determined that rectal thermometers are still the best way to tell a baby’s temperature. Plus, it really teaches the baby who’s boss.” - Tina Fey
                        • Harvard takes perfectly good plums as students, and turns them into prunes.” - Frank Lloyd Wright

                        The audience participated enthusiastically, and the quiz set the mood for the second half of the program. Anil played music by various veterans of Tamil music while Biswajit showed slides of his cartoons-in-progress. Anil played well-known pieces by famous musicians of Tamil Nadu like M.S. Subbulakshmi, Illiaraaja, A.R. Rahman while humorous caricatures were displayed.

                        The event was organized by Kapil Vishwanathan and Sridevi Raghavan of the Harvard Club of Chennai, with Payal Narain of the Harvard South Asia Institute.

                          Tarun Khanna leads discussion on mobile technology in Bangalore

                          Khanna, left, leads the discussion

                          On August 13th, Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute and the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, led a discussion on“Mobile Technology: Spurring Social and Economic Enterprise in South Asia,” during his visit to Bangalore. The event was hosted by Rajiv Mody,the Chairman and Managing Director of Sasken Communication Technologies, at his residence and drew an eclectic audience of technologists, entrepreneurs, investors, Harvard alumni, and thought leaders.

                          Professor Khanna opened the discussion by addressing how the use of mobile technology phones has become ubiquitous in South Asia- not only as a tool to close the information gap, but as a powerful device to promote economic growth in emerging markets. The discussion hoped to broaden the understanding of mobile technology and how it can enable economic and social mobility, particularly for those most in need, through improvements in healthcare, education and financial services.  Professor Khanna focused on the society-changing potential of mobile technologies and, in particular, on specific mobile applications currently used in developing markets, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India, that have demonstrated a proven impact on social development.

                          Professor Khanna posited that while developing mobile technology is important, what remains the most compelling and complex issue is to understand the needs and the behavior of the societies that the mobile technologies are aiming to serve.  Professor Khanna used examples of mobile projects centered on health and banking to provide insights into what makes mobile solutions successful and scalable. Examples cited included India’s Novopay, Bangladesh’s bKash and Kenya’s M-pesa that provide mobile banking solutions; India’s Janacare and Bangladesh’s Grameenphone that use mobile technology to deliver healthcare solutions.

                          Khanna, right, at the Kumbh Mela

                          While mobile technologies have enormous potential, Professor Khanna felt that there are still a lot of open questions. For example,  social-business projects need sustainable business concepts, which in turn require substantial financial support and investment.  Since governmental support in the Indian economy is crucial, the added value of collaboration between governments and social businesses is important, as without collaboration, governmental regulations may limit innovation.  Professor Khanna’s research found that in African countries where regulations have not been enforced or introduced yet, entrepreneurs have quickly turned lack of regulation into beneficial business opportunities.

                          The data and research work done during the Kumbh Mela  was also discussed, which provided insights for further research and teaching on understanding social networks and behavior through studying large data gathered from cell phones used at this mass gathering.  Issues about governmental, institutional and regulatory guidelines were addressed to highlight the existing tension between data privacy, sharing of data to promote scientific research, and the potential insights this data may be able to generate.  (For more information on the Kumbh Mela Big Data project please visit

                          Professor Khanna closed by communicating that mobile technology is one of several interfaculty projects SAI is coordinating over the next several years; teaching and learning about neuroscience and addressing gender violence in South Asia are others that are ongoing with partner institutions in India.


                            Akshay Mangla shares research on educational policies in Delhi

                            Mangla, second from right

                            Discussion on “Effective Implementation of Primary Education Policies in India.”

                            As part of the “Best of Harvard in India Series,” the Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) and Harvard Business School (HBS) partnered with the Central Square Foundation (CSF) to host a Round Table Discussion on “Effective Implementation of Primary Education Policies in India” on August 1, 2014. CSF is a non-government organization focused on improving the educational outcomes for low-income children in India. The discussion, held in Delhi at the Taj Mahal Hotel, was moderated by Professor Akshay Mangla, Assistant Professor, Business, Government and International Economy Unit, Harvard Business School, and Member of SAI’s Steering Committee.

                            The discussion was based on Professor Mangla’s extensive field research that focused on the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Uttarakhand (UK) and Himachal Pradesh (HP). The event was well attended by other experts in the field, both governmental and non-governmental, including Mr. S.R. Mohanty, Additional Chief Secretary, Primary education, Madhya Pradesh, Shabnam Sinha, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank, Colin Bangay, Senior Education Advisor, DFID, Madhav Chavan, Co-founder Pratham and others.

                            The event was well attended by other experts in the field, both governmental and non-governmental.

                            Professor Mangla shared with the group his on-ground findings on the present day system, based on the Central Government’s education policy which includes the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, as well as the midday Meal Program and the Right to Education. In the course of his surveys, Prof Mangla has conducted over 500 interviews at the State and district level, as well as at the village and school level. He compared his findings in the Northern states of HP, UK and UP.

                            There were dramatic variations in school attendance and literacy rates even in these contiguous states, with HP forging ahead of the others because of some innovative social policies. Professor Mangla’s study showed that a progressive and flexible mindset with greater autonomy produced a more effective education system, whereas a rigid bureaucracy proved less effective.

                            The discussion, with a goal to try to resuscitate the Indian education system – the largest public education system in the world – and make it relevant to Modern India, was focused on three main areas: 1) How to promote deliberation and learning within the state; 2) How to recognize, adapt and upscale best practices: and 3) How to strengthen the public educational institutions.

                            Several key problems were identified by the group of experts, ranging from lack of leadership in public schools, teacher absenteeism, lack of an accountability and monitoring system to an absence of innovation and incentives. What was clear was that more detailed discussions with recommendations for solutions were needed for the main problems identified. This round table discussion is the first of the series of such research-based workshops organized around this subject.

                              Gender and the Indian election

                              Graph courtesy of PRS Legislative Research

                              Of the 543 MPs who were elected to the 16th Lok Sabha, 61 are women. Although this is the highest number of women MPs elected in history, these women will make up only 11 percent of the political body.

                              On Thursday, May 8, SAI hosted a webinar about the role of women in Indian politics, with Lakshmi Iyer, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, who shared her extensive research in studying how to get more women involved in politics.

                              Iyer’s research shows that electing more women to political office results in a range of policy changes and development outcomes. Iyer also addressed several methods for increasing political representation of women, including quotas.

                              SAI checked in with Iyer and Meena Hewett of SAI to get their perspective on what the election results mean for women:

                              “This is an interesting analysis in all respects. Given my research interests, I was most interested in seeing the share of women in this recent Lok Sabha. While it is good to see 61 women elected to the Lok Sabha, the highest number ever, it is disheartening to find that the fraction of women in the Lok Sabha is still only 11.3%, having increased from 5% in the first Lok Sabha in 1952.

                              “This is extremely slow progress. A proximate determinant of this is the extremely low participation of women as political candidates: in the 2014 election, only 8% of Lok Sabha candidates were women, up from 7% in 2009. Civil society and political parties should be considering more effective ways to include women in the political process.”

                              -Lakshmi Iyer, Associate Professor of Business Administration,Harvard Business School


                              Graph courtesy of PRS Legislative Research


                              “Even though it is the highest number of women MPs ever elected to the Lok Sabha, the percentage of women representation is still low given that women make up approximately 40% of India’s population. In the previous election, the rate of increase of women representation was 3% compared to an increase of 0.3% this year. Is this progress? Not really. The status of women in India continues to remain low in every area of human development. Real progress will require gender mainstreaming in political representation.

                              “Specific measures would include reservation of seats in the political arena for women to give them equal opportunities in decision making at all state, district, and local Panchayat levels. Progress will also happen when national and state budgets are gender-focused and government’s investment and expenditures benefit women and girls in rural and urban areas. Public investments should ensure safe access to schools for girls and boys, and families should be encouraged and compensated for sending girls to school.”

                              -Meena Hewett, Executive Director, South Asia Institute

                              Read more about the webinar ‘Women in Politics: The Case of India.’

                              What do you think about the gender makeup of the 16th Lok Sabha? Share your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #SAIwebinar.

                                SAI Founder Sugata Bose wins seat in Bengal

                                Bose campaigning in Kolkata. Photo courtesy of the New York Times

                                Congratulations to SAI Founder and Former SAI Director Sugata Bose on being elected to the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat in India’s national election. Bose won the seat in West Bengal as a Trinamool Congress candidate. Bose’s mother, Krishna Bose, was a MP three times, and he is the grandnephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

                                Bose is the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs in the Harvard History Department. His field of specialization is modern South Asian and Indian Ocean history. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. His books include His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011) and A Hundred Horizons: the Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.)

                                Bose told the New York Times, “I began to think this was a historic election, probably our most important since independence,” he said. “The Congress was going to be defeated badly, and I didn’t want the forces of religious majoritarianism to be the only alternative,” he added, referring to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

                                “As an educationist, I would like to put education at the very top of our educational agenda,” he said. “We proudly talk about demographic dividend, but it could turn into a demographic disaster if we don’t educate our citizens. Given my background, that will be a major priority,” he told the New York Times.

                                Read more.

                                  2014 Prasad Fellowships

                                  This year, with the generous support of the Prasad family, the South Asia Institute has funded four Harvard College undergraduate students from various disciplines to study and complete internships in India this summer on issues ranging from the role of media in Indian democracy to environmental governance.

                                  Prasad meets with students in September 2013

                                  This is the third year that the Prasad Fellowship has supported Harvard College students. The opportunity has helped students from many disciplines learn from some of the most innovative and impactful initiatives in India and enrich their academic experience. Each award recipient will have the opportunity meet Mukesh Prasad in the fall, and he will serve as a mentor for the students as they continue their studies.

                                  Mukesh Prasad graduated in 1993 from Harvard College.  He is an Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medical College and is an Associate Attending Otolaryngologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

                                  2014 Prasad Fellowship Recipients:

                                  Zeenia Framroze, Government, 2015
                                  Research: How should the Indian media function to preserve Indian democracy?

                                  Brenna McDuffie, South Asian Studies, 2015
                                  Research: Hindi language study at American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India.

                                  Ekta Patel, Environmental Science and Public Policy, 2015
                                  Research: Urban-Population Vulnerabilities, Environmental Change, and Environmental Governance in Surat, India.

                                  Sara Melissa Theiss, Psychology, 2015
                                  Will intern at VidyaGyan, a leadership academy for the most promising underprivileged students of rural Uttar Pradesh.

                                  2013 Prasad Fellowships

                                    Harvard botanical scientist visits India

                                    From February to March 2014, Kanchi K. Gandhi. Senior Nomenclatural Registrar at Harvard University Herbaria, traveled throughout India to give 10 botany-related talks at colleges and universities. At the Indian Institute of World Culture in Bangalore, Gandhi was greeted as the “Guest of Honor” with a classical dance program with former student Mrs. Anupama Jayasimha.

                                    At Tumkur University, Gandhi participated in a tree planting event organized by Prof. Chandrakant S. Karigar, Prof. Y. N. Seetharam, Prof. B. R. Shalini, Prof. K. L. Ravikala, and Prof. D. Poornima. Two cannonball (Couroupita guianensis) saplings, donated by Dr. B. K. Sadashiv Singh, were planted by Prof. Rajasab (Vice-Chancellor) and Gandhi in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office.

                                      Report of the 6th International Vedic Workshop

                                      The following blog post was written by Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, Harvard University, about the International Vedic Workshop, the most prominent get-together of Indologists involved in the study of the Vedas the world over, which took place in January 2014.

                                       Following up on the SAI-sponsored attendance of 3 Sanskrit Harvard graduate students and Prof. WItzel at the 12-day 2011 Agnicayana ritual in Kerala, the 6th Intl. Vedic Workshop in Kozhikode (Kerala) was organized in January 2014. SAI again sponsored one graduate, Finnian Gerety, to travel and attend the conference.

                                      The 6th International Vedic Workshop was held at Kozhikode (Calicut), in Kerala, India, from January 7-10, 2014. Exactly 117 persons had registered and 57 scholarly papers were delivered during these days of proceedings, see Speakers came from India, Europe, Japan and America, with about equal numbers for each of these four areas. One of the two Harvard graduate students who participated was sponsored by Harvard’s South Asia Institute, for which we are grateful.

                                      As I have experienced myself, and as I have also heard from many participants, all of us were extremely pleased by the smooth organization of the conference and of the cultural performances connected with it. The meetings were held in a cooperative and extremely friendly atmosphere that did not allow any extraneous intrusions of matters that were not linked to the four Vedas. As a result, the Workshop was held in the same scholarly manner as at any of the previous locations over the years (Harvard University 1989, Kyoto University 1999, Leiden University 2002, University of Texas Austin 2007, Centre for Eurasiatic and Afroasiatic Studies, Bucharest 2011).

                                      This scholarly atmosphere was no doubt achieved through the strict, double blind selection procedure for proposed papers, headed by Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar (Pune): neither the scholar who had proposed a paper nor its three anonymous reviewers knew about each other. Which sometimes led to the amusing situation that a certain reviewer would admonish the author of a proposed paper to include some recently published details – published by the very author of the paper… Thus, papers that were not philologically, culturally or linguistically supported were excluded by the judgment of the reviewers, and we could enjoy a proper, scholarly conference. During the workshop meetings papers were delivered smoothly, without any untoward interruption of any sort; a cooperative, civil atmosphere prevailed; in the same way, questions and answer were to the point.



                                        Harvard students in South Asia this summer

                                        SAI Summer Grants

                                        SAI offers a variety of in-region opportunities for Harvard students through the SAI grants program. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for research grants to support independent and thesis field work. SAI has partnered with over 50 organizations in South Asia to offer internships to Harvard students.

                                        Click here for an interactive map showing where Harvard students will be this summer (provided by Google Maps).

                                        Undergraduate Internship Grants

                                        Jennifer Chang, Mechanical Engineering, 2016
                                        Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore

                                        Louise Eisenach**, Chemistry, 2016
                                        Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore

                                        Reina Gattuso*, Literature and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, 2015
                                        Center for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi

                                        Jacqueline Ma, Human and Developmental Regenerative Biology, 2016
                                        Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore

                                        Annie Rak**, Applied Mathematics, 2016
                                        Harvard Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore

                                        Sara Theiss, Psychology, 2015
                                        VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, Noida

                                        Undergraduate Research Grants

                                        Zeenia Framroze, Government, 2015
                                        How should the Indian media function to preserve Indian democracy?

                                        Brenna McDuffie, South Asian Studies, 2015
                                        Hindi language study at American Institute of Indian Studies, Jaipur.

                                        Ekta Patel, Environmental Science and Public Policy, 2015
                                        Urban-Population Vulnerabilities, Environmental Change, and Environmental Governance: Surat, India.

                                        *Cosponsored internship with the Institute of Politics
                                        ** All or partially funded by the Office of Career Services.


                                        Graduate Internship Grants

                                        Arthur Bauer, MPA, HKS
                                        Center for Microfinance, Thanjavur

                                        Sarah Bolivar, MLA, GSD
                                        Kopila Valley Children’s Home and School, Surkhet

                                        Madhav Khosla, Government, GSAS
                                        Center for Policy Research, Delhi


                                        Graduate Research Grants

                                        Mou Banerjee, History, PhD, GSAS
                                        The Baboo, the Babi, and the Padri Sahib: Christianity, Colonialism, and the Creative World of Indian Intellectuals, c. 1813-1907.

                                        Jahnabi Barooah, MTS, HDS
                                        Sanskrit Study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Pune.

                                        Kyle Belcher, MAUD, GSD
                                        Mapping Post War Resettlement in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka.

                                        Sourav Biswas, MLA, GSD
                                        Productive Landscapes of Peri-urban Kolkata: Mapping the resource-recovery processes in the East
                                        Kolkata Wetlands.

                                        Todd Brown, MTS, HDS
                                        Sanskrit Language Study in Kathmandu, with particular focus on Buddhist textual materials.

                                        Gregory Clines, Religion, PhD, GSAS
                                        Braj Bhasha and Early Hindi Workshop of Bansko, Bulgaria.

                                        Namita Dharia, Anthropology, PhD, GSAS
                                        Jugaad Development: the politics and experiences of urban growth in India’s National Capital Region.

                                        Vineet Diwadkar, MLA/MUP, GSD
                                        Modeling Mumbai: Human Architectural Currencies.

                                        Laurel Gabler, MD, HMS
                                        Role of community mobilization as it relates to neonatal and maternal health emergencies in Nagpur, India.

                                        Kanishka Elupula, Anthropology, PhD, GSAS
                                        Ethnographical engagement with caste in modern spaces: Social lives of Dalits in private corporate sector.

                                        Daniel Feldman Mowerman, MAUD, GSD
                                        Mapping Post War Resettlement in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka.

                                        Kayla Kellerman, MTS, HDS
                                        Hindi Study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Jaipur.

                                        Joseph Kimmel, MTS, HDS
                                        The Kingdom of God among Nepalese and American Clergy.

                                        Ian Maccormack, Religion, PhD, GSAS
                                        The Contributions of the Regent Sangye Gyatso to Buddhism and Polity in Tibet.

                                        Aditya Menon, Comparative Literature, PhD, GSAS
                                        Sanskrit Study, American Institute of Indian Studies, Pune.

                                        James Reich, Religion, PhD, GSAS
                                        The Relationship between literary theory and religion in pre-modern Kashmir.

                                        Sarika Ringwala, Public Policy, PhD, GSAS
                                        Evaluating Initiatives to Improve Public Service Delivery in India.

                                        Heather Sarsons, Economics, PhD, GSAS
                                        Dowry Payments and Female Welfare in India.

                                        Lauren Taylor, MTS, HDS
                                        Assessing the Relationship between Spiritual Practice and Community Health Outcomes in Rural, Southern India.