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The City and South Asia Podcast: The Season of Migration in the City

How should we plan and perceive the urban?

In this podcast, Namita Dharia, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, and Graduate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, talks about the life of a migrant worker in urban India and how the construction industry is addressing issues of child labor and women’s safety.

Namita spent over a year at a construction site in India working on an ethnography of the real estate and construction industry in India’s National Capital Region, and is the author of “The Season of Migration in the City” in SAI’s publication The City and South Asia.

Read the full article:



The City and South Asia Podcast: Floating on Waste Islands

    Nutrition’s future leaders

    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), a collaboration between St. John’s Research Institute in Bangalore (SJRI), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and Tufts University, was initiated in 2009 to build capacity and to provide research training for young professionals in the fields of nutrition and global health from India and other countries in the region.

    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.

    The Collaborative recently wrapped up its sixth annual course in January2015 in Bangalore. The intensive 2 week course provided up and coming Indian faculty and graduate students with skills needed for research careers in public health and nutrition.

    Faculty included Christopher Duggan, HSPH, Rebecca Raj, Head of Clinical Nutrition Unit at St. John’s Research Institute, Richard Cash, senior lecturer on global health, HSPH, Ronald Bosch, senior research scientist in biostatistics, HSPH,  Anuraj Shankar, senior research scientist in nutrition, HSPH, and SV Subramanian, professor of population health and geography.

    Below are some testimonials from participants:

    “The eye opener was the biochemistry session. I learned so many new things about lipids.”

    “I liked how the course connected people from various backgrounds and ethnicities to mingle and share their knowledge with each other.”

    “We were able to attend the lectures of some of the most eminent scientists who shared their knowledge and expertise with us.”

    “Overall, the course was a very high quality, technologically innovative, motivating, and encouraging course to enhance my knowledge in nutrition and research. Thanks for inspiring such budding scientists like me!”

    “I got an overview of topics such as the importance of epidemiological studies and infectious diseases. Another advantage of the course is the interaction with fellow students and faculty who come from different background of science to share their experiences.”

    “The course has given me a global picture of nutrition and helped me understand the various aspects of nutrition-based researches better.”

    The group has also worked to develop distance learning curricula in east Africa and India involving internet-based case discussions, shared curricula, and shared opportunities for discourse. With funding from USAID, NIH, and a private foundation, they have built a collection of online resources for nutrition education.

    Watch videos here.

      India’s path to global leadership

      The India Conference at Harvard, hosted by students at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, and cosponsored by SAI, is one of the largest India conferences in the US.

      This year’s conference will take place on March 7 and 8, 2015, and will bring together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists, and many other leaders to engage in a conversation about India’s path to global leadership.

      SAI spoke with Chandni Sachdeva, Harvard Business School, MBA Class of 2015, one of the organizers of the event, about the conference and its goals.

      SAI: The slogan for the conference is ‘India’s path to global leadership.’ Where did this idea come from?

      Chandni Sachdeva: Last year the conference focused on India’s prospects and paradoxes, which reflected more on the past. This year’s theme, ‘India’s Path to Global leadership,’ is more forward-looking and is inspired from the way we have seen the country evolve on many fronts, whether it be political, industrial, technology or e-commerce/retail.

      SAI: What obstacles does India face in reaching a position of global leadership?

      CS: The obstacles vary by industry and this is something that we will debate and discuss across the different industrial panels. Some of the common themes could be infrastructure, education, cultural mindset, and societal divide.

      SAI: Given that  65% of India’s population is 35 or under, moving forward, what are some issues that young people in India want to see addressed?

      CS: I think India’s burgeoning “under 35″ population is going to have less tolerance for injustice in society and corruption in government and organizations. It will also have higher demands in terms of job opportunities, healthcare, and access to consumer products.

      SAI: You have an impressive lineup of speakers. What will students take away from this conference?

      CS: The India Conference at Harvard attracts over 80 speakers including Kiran Bedi, Sajjan Jindal, Rahul Bose, and Shivshankar Menon, and over 600 attendees. It is a great opportunity to network with India-focused individuals in your industry of interest. There will be networking lunches and a cocktail reception.


      Learn more and buy tickets:

        Summer Program: Mobile Technology and Big Data in India (New Deadline)

        Use of Mobile Technology to Change Societies in India

        Summer Program, 2015

        The use of mobile technology is ubiquitous and fills the gap of information, communications, and access to social services for large populations. These technological devices are proving to be a powerful tool not just to promote economic growth in emerging markets, but to restructure societies and social relationships. India ranks second after China in the mobile phone market. Approximately 76% of the 1.25 billion people have access to mobile phones in India, and thus this device has huge potential to favorably impact the lives of many.

        The program for Harvard undergraduate students, located in India, provides an opportunity to examine the use of mobile technology to deliver services in the areas of education, health, agriculture, and banking. Students will be given a background into the landscape of mobile technology in India, and be introduced to an analytic framework based on three major components – the technology itself, regulations and policy around the use of technology, and the individual users of the technology. Equipped with this background, students will conduct observations and interviews with those utilizing the technology and with those who are served by the technology.

        This 8 week program will take place Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Delhi, hotspots for mobile technology innovation and policy.


        Tarun Khanna, Director of the Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, HBS
        JP Onnela, Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, HSPH
        Satchit Balsari, Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

        Please note this program is only open to Harvard undergraduate students. 

        The application materials are due Monday, February 28, 2015 (new deadline).

        a)     Cover Sheet (click here)
        b)    Statement of purpose describing your rationale for pursuing this project (750 words)
        c)    Current one-page resume
        d)    Transcript (Student Record is accepted)

        The above materials should be emailed to Nora Maginn,

        e)    Two confidential letters of recommendation to be submitted directly by recommender as PDF attachments to Nora Maginn,

        Sample budget for Students

        Learn more about SAI’s Mobile Technology project.

          International Photo Contest Winners

          Congratulations to Gillian Slee, Harvard College ’16, and Sara Melissa Theiss, Harvard College ’15, who were chosen by SAI as winners for the Office of International Education’s Annual International Photo Contest. Each year, undergraduates submit photos from their summer travels around the world, whether from study programs, grants, or internships, and SAI selects winners for photos from South Asia.

          View past winners.

          First Place: “Jeweled Intensity” by Gillian Slee, Harvard College ’16, taken in Jaipur, India






























          Runner up: “Woman Making Pot of Food” by Sara Melissa Theiss, Harvard College ’15, taken in Sitapur, India