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News Feed: Students at SAI

Congrats, Class of 2014!

Congratulations to the class of 2014! Commencement exercises were held at Harvard University on May 29, 2014. Former SAI students, including former student interns, Graduate Student Associates, and grant recipients received degrees from various Harvard schools. We wish all students the best of luck in their future endeavors!

Former SAI Student Interns:

Deonnie Moodie

Deonnie Moodie, PhD, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Deonnie Moodie is graduating from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences with a PhD in the Study of Religion.  At Harvard, she focused her research on the region of Bengal, spanning both India and Bangladesh.  Her dissertation is focused on Kālīghāṭ Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kālī in Kolkata, West Bengal.  She analyzes the ways in which this temple has been discursively produced from the colonial period to the present in tandem with ideas about what constitutes “good Hinduism,” the nature of the city and its colonial legacy, the role of law in religious institutions, modern notions of cleanliness and propriety, and identity among diaspora Bengalis.

As an intern at the South Asia Institute, Deonnie gained invaluable exposure to cutting edge research on the region from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.  In particular, she assisted in the coordination of the “Mapping India’s Kumbh Mela” project.  Working with esteemed faculty and staff on this immense cross-disciplinary research project was a critical component of her Harvard experience.  She will now join the faculty of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma as an Assistant Professor.  There, she will teach courses on Hinduism and other South Asian religions, and hopes to contribute to the expansion of programming on South Asia more broadly at the University.

Abigail Russo

Abigail Russo, Ed.M, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Abigail is graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a master’s in International Education Policy. While at Harvard, Abigail conducted research on classroom practices that enhance long-term memory in collaboration with a school in Sydney, Australia. Additionally, she worked with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to analyze how to collaborate with various partners to implement its Global Education Strategy in Kenya. Interning at SAI added tremendously to her understanding of the intersection between research and dialogue in global discourse and policy change.

Former SAI Graduate Student Associates (GSAs)

Namita Wahi, S.J.D., Harvard Law School

Namita Wahi

Namita Wahi recently completed her S.J.D. (doctoral) degree from Harvard Law School. Namita’s doctoral dissertation titled “The Right to Property and Economic Development in India”, traces the historical evolution of the right to property in the Indian Constitution from the colonial period until 1967.” Namita is now a Faculty Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research (“CPR”), New Delhi, where she is leading a research project on “Land Rights, Environment Protection and Inclusive Development in India”. This project is a collaboration between CPR and the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen and the University of Bergen.

During her time at Harvard, Namita was Clark C. Byse Teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School (2012-2013), and a Law School Graduate Programme Fellow (2008-2012). Namita taught “Politics of India” at Harvard College (2009-2010), and coached the Harvard Law School team for the Jessup International Moot Court Competition from 2008-2012.

Namita was the founding president of the Harvard India Student Group (“HISG”), the first university wide India student group in Harvard’s 375 year history. HISG was created and sustained with the support of the Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession and the South Asia Institute. Namita was also a Graduate Student Associate with the South Asia Institute for four consecutive years (2009-2013), during which time the GSA Programme evolved to provide a space for meaningful interdisciplinary engagement amongst scholars working on South Asia.

Namita was also one of the founding members of the Harvard Law School S.J.D. Association and served as Director of Strategic Affairs for the Association from 2011-2012.

During her S.J.D., Namita worked on projects with the Institute for Policy Research Studies (“IPRS”) where she wrote papers on campaign finance reform and measuring the effectiveness of Parliament for the first IPRS Annual Conference. Through her work with the Fisheries Management Resource Centre (“FishMARC”), Namita represented traditional fishermen in litigation against displacement and deprivation of their livelihoods in the Mundra region of Gujarat.

Prior to her S.J.D., Namita was an associate at Davis Polk and Wardwell in New York, where she litigated primarily bankruptcy, securities, and pro bono criminal defence and asylum law. Namita holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, where she was an Inlaks scholar, and B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degrees from National Law School of India University, Bangalore where she graduated with the first rank in class.

Bilal Malick, Ed.D, Harvard Graduate School of Education

His dissertation project reflects 18 months of fieldwork in  Pakistan, including field‐trips, interviews, and year‐long participant‐observation inside an Islamic seminary. His research focuses on the cultural and religious lives of seminary students and their entanglements within Pakistani society. In his dissertation, he is exploring the  relationships between every‐day practices, religious subjectivities, and sociopolitical projects of seminary‐affiliates. This first  ever ethnography of a male Islamic seminary in South Asia builds upon and contributes to theoretical, empirical, and policy work in two fields: scholarship on Muslim seminary education; scholarship on Islamist politics.


Former SAI Grant recipients:

2013 Grants (Read the 2013 Grant Report)

Dipona BandyHarvard College Class of 2014
Research grant: Transnational and National Approaches to Feminist Organizing around Sexual Violence in India

Benjamin Lamont

Benjamin Lamont, Harvard College Class of 2014
Research grant: Indian foreign policy makers and decision making during 2008 Mumbai Attacks

Ada Lin, Harvard College Class of 2014
Research grant: Excavating the Red Corridor: An Intellectual History of the Naxalite Movement

Danielle Schulkin, Harvard College Class of 2014
Research grant: Tracking Cybernetics in India in 1950s and 1960s

Darshali Vyas, Harvard College Class of 2014
Research grant: Analyzing community-based healthcare in rural Gujarat

Marcelle Goggins, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Taktse International School, Sikkim, India

Eva Harvey, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Public Health Foundation of India, Delhi, India


Marcelle Goggins, left

2012 Grants (Read the 2012 Grant Report)

Radhika Jain, Harvard College Class of 2014, History of Science
Undergraduate Fellowship at Shots for Shots, Baroda, India

Vishal Arora, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Operation ASHA, New Delhi, India

Omer Awan, Harvard College Class of 2014, Applied Math
Internship grant: Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), Islamabad, Pakistan

Rohit Chaki, Harvard College Class of 2014, Physics
Internship grant: Taktse International School, Sikkim, India

Louis Cid, Harvard College Class of 2014, Economics
Internship grant: The Center for Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, India

Virginia Fahs, Harvard College Class of 2014, History and Literature
Internship grant: Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centers, Mumbai, India

Angela Frankel, Harvard College Class of 2014, Human Development
Research with the Harvard-Bangalore Science Initiative, Bangalore, India

Grace O’Neale

Sophia Lajaunie, Harvard College Class of 2014, Social Studies
Internship grant: Taktse International School, Sikkim, India

Jenna Louie, Harvard College Class of 2014, Social Studies
Internship grant: Yuva Unstoppable, Ahmedabad, India

Grace O’Neale, Harvard College Class of 2014, South Asian Studies
Internship grant: VidyaGyan, Uttar Pradesh, India

Jeannie Tse, Harvard College Class of 2014, Social Studies
Internship grant: The Empowerment Group of Friends of Women’s World Banking, Ahmedabad, India


2011 Grants (Read the 2011 Grant Report)

Pearl Bhatnagar, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Ujjivan, Bangalore, India

Cayla Calderwood, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Asha, New Delhi, India

Kristina Tester, Harvard College Class of 2014
Internship grant: Asha, New Delhi, India


    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 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.


        Harvard College Pakistan Weekend

        The inaugural Harvard College Pakistan Weekend (HCPW), titled Ensuring Economic Progress in the Pakistan of the Future, took place on April 19th and 20th, 2014 with approximately 200 people in attendance. The successful event, held at Harvard Law School, was a manifestation of the hard work by the Harvard College Pakistan Students Association (HCPSA), and was co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute.

        The conference followed a busy schedule; the first day was filled with keynote speeches by Aly Jeddy, Partner at The Abraaj Group, Shujaat Nadeem, Chairman of Samba Bank, Pakistan, and Humayun Akhtar Khan, Former Commerce Minister of Pakistan, among others.  Panels focused on education policy and the energy crisis. Breakout-style interactive discussion sessions with experienced panelists from Pakistan and the United States also gave students the opportunity to interact with experts.  The second day focused mainly on law and technology, dealing with pertinent issues that have arisen over the last few decades.

        The conference was attended not only by members of the Pakistani community at Harvard and in the Boston Area, but also by students from all over the East Coast and many of the Ivy League schools. This diversity led to broad discussions, yielding a quality of discourse that could not have been possible without such an enthusiastic and well-rounded audience.

        Key discussion issues included the energy crisis in Pakistan, the entity of law and the problems related to its implementation, finance and economic opportunities in the region, as well as education, and how it can be used to bridge the gaps between the different strata of Pakistani society. The lunch and tea breaks turned into informal extensions of these discussions, and allowed attendees the rare opportunity to build their networks of professionals and students affiliated with Pakistan.

        Overall, the conference was an immense learning experience for all parties involved. HCPSA hopes to make this an annual occurrence in order to further the group’s goal: to keep the international narrative involving Pakistan headed in a positive and constructive direction.

        -By Eman Riaz Ahmed, Harvard College Class of 2016


        Student Testimonials:

        “Harvard Pakistan Weekend was a brilliantly organized event! (…) I particularly enjoyed the panels on education and energy, as they really hit at the core of the problems facing Pakistan. I really hope this event becomes an annual gathering, remaining true to its purpose!”
        – Sundus Noeen, Mt. Holyoke College

        “As a first-time attendee, I was curious to see how a conference with such a holistic approach towards Pakistan would be maneuvered. However, Harvard College Pakistan Weekend’s inaugural edition hit the rare trifecta of quality speakers, informative sessions, and great organization and did not deviate from its goal of offering an alternative narrative on Pakistan. Moreover, the HCPW team did a great job of bringing together leading industry experts to discuss the pertinent topics shaping the local and international media space. In particular, I enjoyed the panel discussion on Pakistan’s legal system and the keynote speech on private sector growth by Mr. Aly S. Jeddy, Partner at The Abraaj Group. Due to the interactive nature of the conference, I had the pleasure of meeting countless industry veterans and rising-star entrepreneurs, as well as students and student-leaders from both across and beyond the US. I came away with the distinct feeling of having experienced great content on Pakistan delivered in a professional manner – excellent illustrations and application – enough humor – good pace – I did not feel that it dragged out at any time. But most importantly, I came away with a deeper understanding of and greater responsibility towards Pakistan.”
        - Zuha Jamil, New York University ’15

        “HCPW was a great initiative (…). Having such discussions among ourselves is just a step stone towards pragmatically achieving some of the development goals discussed at the conference. I particularly enjoyed the Moving Beyond the Energy Crisis and The Public Private Education Paradigm panels. I hope whatever each of us took away from the conference will motivate us to contribute to the economic progress of Pakistan in any way possible.”
        -Alizeh Zaman, Mount Holyoke College

        “Listening to Adil Najam was both entertaining and educational. I enjoyed listening to the energy and education panel as it was a wake up call for me, knowing that load shedding is a difficult quagmire occurring in Pakistan and public education requires dire help. The panelists were truly knowledgeable and an honor for me to meet.”
        -Umme Lena, Mt. Holyoke University

        Visit the Conference’s Twitter page for quotes from the panels.

        View the gallery below for more photos:


          4/14 Film Screening: Hide and Seek

          The rights and lives of sexual minorities in Asia and Africa have been hot topics in the media in the last year. Uganda, Nigeria, India, Lebanon have all witnessed major changes in addressing these lives. What is happening in Pakistan, where stigma and taboos hinder open discussion of such topics among the middle class, and where the media focus tends to lean towards drones, bombs and other myriad difficulties?

          “Hide and Seek” (Chuppan Chupai in Urdu) by Saad Khan and Saadat Munir is a Pakistani-Danish documentary that highlights the lives and concerns of non-straight people in Pakistan – some who identify as “gay” or “trans”, some who use other terms not in currency in the West.

          Saad Khan has traveled to numerous countries such as Denmark, Canada, Dubai, London, and Spain and the film has won various “Best Documentary” awards. It follows four individuals with distinct life stories as they describe their lives under Pakistan’s current laws and raise questions about trans-gender activism, gay life, and family customs of trans-genders (and hijra) in Pakistan. Come join Harvard Pakistan and organizations from across Harvard (College, HKS, Divinity, Law School) to watch this amazing documentary. After the screening, there will be a live discussion with filmmaker Saad Khan and Abbas Jaffer, doctoral candidate in social anthropology at Harvard.

          The event will be held at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, at the Starr Auditorium in Belfer Hall.

          Don’t miss the chance to see an impacting and positive movie that is pushing for human rights in Pakistan.

          Watch the trailer here:

          Join the Facebook event.

          Monday, April 14, 2014
          6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

          Cosponsored with SAI, Harvard Pakistan Student Group, Pakistan Caucus (Kennedy School), Muslim Council (Harvard Divinity School), Queer Rites (Harvard Divinity School), Harvard Lambda (Harvard Law School), South Asia Caucus (Kennedy School), LGBT Caucus (Kennedy School)