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Progressive politics in Pakistan: Q+A with Atiya Khan

Atiya Khan, SAI’s Aman Fellow for the 2014 fall semester, is a historian of Modern South Asia and through her research, aims to recover the untold story of progressive politics in Pakistan.

Khan will lead a seminar at Harvard on Friday, Nov. 7, titled ‘Dictatorship and Development: The Dilemma of the Left in Pakistan, 1950s-1960s.’

SAI recently talked to Khan about her research on Pakistan’s Leftist movement, how the Left has failed internationally, and why Pakistan seems to “always be in some kind of crisis.”

SAI: What compelled you to study Pakistani politics from a historical perspective?

Atiya Khan:  Growing up in Pakistan, it was frustrating that basic civil liberties were curtailed. As a young adult, I often wondered: Why was Pakistan always in some kind of crisis? How could one account for the difficulties of democracy in Pakistan? How might we ground our understanding of these difficulties through an investigation of the past?

These were the questions that compelled me to study Pakistan. While historians and political scientists have provided accounts for the crisis of democracy in Pakistan, they tend to emphasize the role of the military-bureaucracy nexus that was inherited by the British and how this inheritance impeded the growth of democratic institutions. I adopted a different approach by examining the failure of democracy in Pakistan from the standpoint of the failure of the Left.

It was the Left, after all, that took upon itself the task of vitalizing democracy in Pakistan. Various left-wing figures and organizations staked a claim to that political responsibility. In a certain sense, taking their claim seriously is the point of departure for my interpretation of Pakistan’s history.

In my work, I trace the failure of the democratic Left since the inception of Pakistan in 1947 through the collapse of leftist politics in the wake of the Bangladesh War of 1971. What this history uncovers is the way in which the Left student and labor movements in Pakistan balked at forming a democratic government when the opportunity presented itself. Instead, various leftist groups lent organizational support to their opponents and helped them attain political objectives that were opposed to their own.  The disorientation and unwitting self-betrayals of the Left during this period complicate the question of what “the Left” actually is, and what it stood for, in the first place.

SAI: Why do you think it is that the Leftists failed in Pakistan?

AK: The history of the Left is perplexing in that, in retrospect, it appears to be a history of failure. Before elaborating on the failure of the Left in Pakistan, it is important to understand the failure of the international Left, which has ensued since the collapse of the Russian Revolution culminating in the rise of Stalinized communism. This meant that the Left abdicated from advancing the project of international socialism and came to bind itself, however unwittingly, to a politics narrowly focused on national demands. The Left in Pakistan was constituted in the context of this historical shift and was unable to chart an independent course of political leadership, even though it had a great deal of popular support.

There are several reasons as to why the Left failed to assert itself. The explanation many offered at the time, and some still do today, is that the Left was simply overwhelmed by the repressive measures of the government, and this made it very difficult for its organizations to operate. That may be, and I am not dismissing the fact that the Left had to operate in adverse conditions, but this does not explain how or why the Left seemed to disintegrate during, or just following, those potentially opportune moments in which the government was in crisis and thus relatively weak.

In my view, the Left ultimately failed because, at critical moments, it proved unable to distinguish itself from other political tendencies, and thereby incorporated its own political vision to the initiatives of Islamic groups and conservative nationalist parties.

SAI: What is the status of the Left in Pakistan now?

AK: In contemporary Pakistan the Left does not exist in a meaningful way. Although there has been a resurgence of leftist parties and groups, what does it even mean to call oneself leftist when internationally the Left has long been in disarray, if not decay? What does it mean to be on the Left today when, with the exception of occasional and short-lived outbursts, progressive movements have been in retreat since the 1970s globally? The Left internationally is in crisis and Pakistan expresses this predicament acutely.

SAI: What is the significance of the rise of Islamic militancy in Pakistan?

AK: One may argue that Pakistan was never really free of the shadow cast by Islam on politics. Conservatives and leftists alike flirted with the strategy of politicizing Islam; many attempted to blend the precepts of Islam with socialism and democracy. But the rise of Islamic militancy is specific to the context of the 1980s when, under General Zia ul Haq’s project of Islamization, Pakistan became involved in the proxy war in Afghanistan. This was an outcome of the earlier political defeats of the Left that created space for a militant Islamic populism, which thwarted the already frail prospects for meaningful democracy in Pakistan.

SAI: Why is it important for you to take a historical view of Pakistan, rather than a political science approach?

AK: The problem of freedom in history makes history a worthwhile subject. Whereas the discipline of political science is more oriented toward a quantitative framework, history allows us to make sense of the present in relation to the past. Although the discipline of history is driven by empiricism, history more directly poses the problem of freedom in terms of the necessity, and perhaps non-necessity, of the present.

In the case of Pakistan, one wonders about the diminished possibilities of restoring democracy. We can account for that by understanding the failure of the progressive energies in an earlier era, the 1960s. If the dialectical force of history is kept in tension, it can allow us to transcend the realm of “what is,” and push us to contend with the question, “what could be.”

SAI: Are there any other Leftist movements that inform your understanding of Pakistan?

AK: My interest and understanding of the Left in Pakistan stemmed from my interest in Marx and the history of international Marxism. The twentieth century is both fascinating and tragic: fascinating because it witnessed the rise of the vibrant Left internationally, and tragic because it is clearly marked by the defeats of the Left. The Left in Pakistan was not immune from the setbacks experienced by the international Left, and so the decline of progressive politics in Pakistan becomes clearer when we consider the state of the Left globally.

SAI: Can you talk more about your next project?

AK: I am moving toward a comparative research project that will examine the decline of progressive politics in places where it was once vital, such as the Middle East. The idea is to undertake a comparative analysis between Pakistan or South Asia at large and the Middle East, countries such as Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. These are areas in which the socialist left once had a strong presence, but today are in the grip of extreme Islamist forces. The comparative dimension of my project is an attempt to construct a more adequately transnational history of the democratic left, which shared a specific understanding of democracy and social transformation.

SAI: Does the Left have any success stories?

AK: This is an interesting question. At face value, it may appear that the Left met with success in some countries such as Cuba, China, or even in India, where it had maintained a parliamentary presence. However, from the standpoint of socialism, which was after all the banner under which the revolutions in Cuba and China materialized, can we interpret this as success?

This question, in a sense, goes back to the issue of historical shifts in the international Left, whereby it became bound up with the demands of nationalist politics rather than pushing its politics beyond the national framework and striving to overcome its present context. The Left has to learn to advance on the basis of its failures. This is, of course, difficult to think about because the means and resources are so scarce for meaningful political struggle undertaken by revolutionaries with emancipatory intent.

But even the current inopportune situation might offer the occasion to reflect on the mistakes made as well as to think about politics in its various aspects. How does one deal with failure? There aren’t going to be immediate successes. That is why the notion of defeat has, in fact, always been central to the history of the Left.

 Khan will lead a SAI seminar at Harvard on Nov. 7, titled ‘Dictatorship and Development: The Dilemma of the Left in Pakistan, 1950s-1960s.’

    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?

    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.

    JB: 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.  

      Responding to disasters

      Dr. D’Andrea, right, interacts with universities in South Asia

      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. 

      On Wednesday, October 1, SAI hosted its first webinar of the semester on disaster management with Shawn D’Andrea, MD, MPH, Instructor of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. With the support of SAI and the Aman Foundation, Dr. D’Andrea has been working on a project in Karachi, improving mass casualty response and disaster response for first responders, and developing hospital leadership.

      Using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), the interactive session included participation from five universities, in South Asia, allowing around 250 students and administrators in the region to interact directly with Dr. Andrea about the fundamentals of Incident Command.

      An Incident Command System (ICS) is, by definition, “a tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response.” Further, it is “a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities.”

      An example of an Incident Command hierarchy

      ICS allows individuals from different organizations to work together when responding to a disaster. Dr. D’Andrea explained that ICS has a lot in common with the military, and it is based on a hierarchy. The system is used to prepare for planned events as well as unplanned disasters.

      For example, Boston had an elaborate incident command system in place before the Marathon bombings of 2013. Dr. D’Andrea explained that understanding the concept is important even for those not in the medical community, in order to build awareness about what a a government’s response will be to a disaster.

      “But a short conversation can change that. Discussions like these [the webinar], and whatever can be done at the university level, to make the public or the students know what the authorities will do in an event of disaster response, will help the broader public understand how the disaster is managed.”

      A key concept is the designation of an incident commander at the top of the hierarchy who makes decisions and coordinates the response of many individuals. The incident commander is not always necessarily the most senior individual; whoever is the most highly qualified and trained in disaster response would take this role.

      Throughout the presentation, Dr. D’Andrea shared real world examples of disasters, both natural and man-made, that can serve as lessons for disaster response, including the Boston Marathon Bombings, flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a building collapse in New York, and bombings in Pakistan.

      In his presentation, Dr. D’Andrea shared the key concepts of ICS:

      • Unity of command: Each individual answers only to one supervisor, which decreases confusion with orders and increases accountability.
      • Common vocabulary: Allows individuals from different agencies to communicate effectively and minimizes confusion and miscommunication. The common language should rely on clear text, not radio codes, organization-specific codes, or terminology.
      • Flexible organization: The hierarchy should be adaptable based on the scale of the situation. The principles will be the same, but will fit the needs of the disaster. The system does not necessarily need to rely on advanced technology; it can be implemented based on resources available.
      • Span of control: The person in control only directs the actions of a limited number of people, ideally five, which limits distractions and allows individuals to focus on their specific task.
      • Management by Objective: The response operations should be organized around specific objectives, and these objectives should be prioritized.

      The interest of the participants was evident during the webinar, as students and administrators in South Asia asked follow up questions about the presentation, which contributed to a dynamic and lively discussion with Dr. D’Andrea. Questions were also submitted on social media. The session demonstrated how a webinar like this one is a vital tool in the exchange and generation of knowledge.

      “I think universities play an important and unique role, which is to bring these principles, which can be a bit challenging and unusual initially, and demystify them and bring them to a broader public,” Dr. D’Andrea explained. “I think the best way for that to happen is through discussion like this, and also through local experts who are doing work on the ground already. Universities are great environments to share this information.”

      Participating universities included Kinnaird College For Women, Lahore, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, University of Peshawar and the Centre for Disaster Preparedness and Management, University of Haripur, and NED University, Karachi. Not only did the sessionas allow these schools to interact with Harvard, they were able to interact with each other. The discussion was moderated by Erum Sattar, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School.

      The next webinar will take place on November 19, on the topic of Mass Casualty Triage with Usha Periyanayagam, MD.

      Resources:

      Full recording of the webinar (starting at 22:00)

      FEMA National Preparedness Directorate National Training and Education

      First Response Initiative of Pakistan

      SAI Webinars

        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
        Web: southasiainstitute.harvard.edu
        Email: sainit@fas.harvard.edu


        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.

          Update from Rabtt: Summer Report 2014

          Rabtt was awarded a SAI Omidyar Grant for Entrepreneurship in 2013, an award given to students who wish to pursue projects that provide entrepreneurial solutions to social and economic problems in South Asia. The grant was awarded to: Saniya Ansar, Harvard Kennedy School, Asad Husain, Harvard Business School, Nora Elsheikh, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Haider Raza, Harvard Kennedy School, and Imran Sarwar, Harvard Kennedy School.

          Rabtt operates in public schools as well as private schools in Pakistan, working to improve three core competencies among students: critical thinking, tolerance, and creativity.

          Read more about what they are up to this summer on SAI’s Summer Blog.

           

           

          Connect. Educate. Evolve – A Story of Rabtt from Rabtt Official on Vimeo.

            Call for Papers: Pakistan Heritage

            Call for Papers: Pakistan Heritage (First Circular)

            Hazara University, Mansehra, Pakistan

            Department of Archaeology, School of Cultural Heritage and Creative Technologies

            August 7, 2014

            Pakistan  Heritage  is  a  research  journal  of  the  Department  of  Archaeology,  School  of  Cultural  Heritage  and  Creative  Technologies,  Hazara  University,  Mansehra, Pakistan  and  is  jointly  edited  by  professionals  from Hazara  University  and  School  of  Archaeology  and  Ancient  History,  University  of  Leicester,  United  Kingdom.

            This  recently  established  journal  focuses  on  current  issues  and  research  in  the  fields  of  archaeology,  cultural  heritage  management,  museum  and  conservation  studies in Pakistan  and  South  Asia.  It  is  published  annually,  and  to  date  four  volumes  have  been  produced.  As  part  of  our  long–‐term  policy,  we  are  in  the  process  of publishing  the  journal  online  (and  free  of  cost)  alongside  the  print  version.  Pakistan  Heritage  boasts  one  of  the  most  distinguished  editorial  boards  for  journals published  in  this  region.

            As  editors  and  board  members,  we  are  committed  to  a  double  blind  peer-review  process,  with  a  transparent  reviewing  and  selection  policy.  We  are  aiming  for highest publication  standards  and  ethics,  and  have  zero  tolerance  to  plagiarism  (including  self–‐plagiarism).  We  would  expose  all  submitted  papers  to  anti- and  reviewers.  We work  from  our  reviewers  comments  (which  are  communicated  to  the  author(s)  for  inclusions)  and  decisions  (e.g.  out-right  rejection).  Needless  to  mention  that  all  our reviewers  are  from  outside  Pakistan.

            We  are  now  in  the  process  of  accepting  papers  for  volume  5  of  Pakistan  Heritage  and  are  aiming  to  publish  this  volume  by  December  2014.  We  are  looking  for  8-12 high  quality  research  papers  of  6000  – 8000  words  (in  MS  Word)  and  would  generally  accommodate  6 -8  illustrations/maps/photos  per  paper.  We  will  also  accept  short fieldwork  reports  of  3000  words with  up  to  5  high  quality  illustrations.

            We  shall  be  very  much  thankful  to  you  if  you  could  kindly  submit  a  paper  to  our  upcoming  volume  5.

            We  would  also  appreciate  if  you  could  widely  circulate  this  in  your  respective  peer  groups  and  on  relevant  public  forums.  Sincerely,  Editors  [Ruth  Young  (University of  Leicester)  and  Muhammad  Zahir  (Hazara University)]  and  Associate  Editor  [Shakirullah  (Hazara  University)]

            Official  Email:  ph@hu.edu.pk

              Postsecondary education in South Asia: Q+A with SAI’s Research Affiliate Mumtaz Anwar

              Mumtaz Anwar

              During his time as a SAI Research Affiliate, Mumtaz Anwar has used Harvard’s resources to develop his research on the expansion of postsecondary education in South Asia, and he has attended classes, lectures, and conferences that have opened his eyes to new forms of learning.

              SAI’s research affiliate program brings researchers and faculty to Harvard each year whose area of interest is South Asia. Anwar is under the mentorship of Asim Khwaja, Sumitomo-FASID Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School, while at Harvard, and he is also a research fellow at Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), Germany, along with his permanent position of assistant professor in the Department of Economics, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

              SAI recently talked to Anwar to learn about the progress he has made on his research while at Harvard:

              Q: Can you talk a little bit about your research and what you’ve been doing while at Harvard?

              Mumtaz Anwar: I am working on two issues here. One is expansion of postsecondary education in South Asia and developing countries. There has been a lot of expansion in postsecondary education in all developing countries in last two decades, and I am focusing mostly on South Asia and Pakistan.  For example, in Pakistan, in 2002, there were only 35 public and private sector universities, now there are nearly 200. So there has been a lot of expansion in postsecondary education. First off, what I’m looking at is what are the determinants; whether it is due to economic expansion; whether it is due to social pressure; whether it is due to more young people coming in; and some political factors as well. Secondly, while a lot of expansion has happened in the last 2 decades, at the same time there are a lot of quality problems coming in. There are a number of students who couldn’t be admitted to universities before, but are now coming in with easy admissions into the universities and higher education institutions, which needs analysis.

              Anwar, left, with Asim Khwaja

              The second aspect which I am working on is the relationship of higher education with the job market. For example, look at the Middle East, A lot of people are saying that the Arab uprising is due to a problem where young people have education, but they are not getting jobs. So what I am looking at in South Asia is that how in Pakistan, where 65 percent of the population is composed of young people, this issue can be addressed. So if they are going into post-secondary education, what will happen with them after? Will they be able to find jobs? Will they get a job according to their degree and qualifications? The problem is that people may be getting jobs, but these jobs are not according to their qualification and experience. So instead of getting out of the poverty trap, they are going into it. So this is the second aspect I am researching while here [at Harvard].

              All in all, I am interested in the expansion in postsecondary education and human development in South Asia and particularly in Pakistan. Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there was a lot of funding for the primary and secondary education but very little funds has been allocated to higher education. What I am looking at is whether these international donors should also consider higher education as well. So I am looking at all these aspects of postsecondary expansion, its role in the labor market, and then a policy proposal for the international donor agencies.

              Q: And how has working with Asim Khwaja [Harvard Kennedy School] helped your research and how have you learned from him while at Harvard?

              MA: It’s fantastic. He basically gave me a new direction in my research, and it has been very interesting for me, because what I was doing in political economy and development policy, which is my main area of research, has been given a new direction because of Harvard. The time I have spent here has changed my whole frame of mind. This research has opened new avenues. For example, I never knew about the new methodologies of research, like RCTs (Randomized controlled trials). So I learned it here, and now I am going to practice it as well. Asim [Khwaja] helped me by motivating me and he encouraged me to learn these tools as well.

              I audited a few classes at the Harvard Kennedy School and MIT. In these courses, I learned a lot about how to do research, and current research practices. What I did in my old research now seems old and traditional. Here, I have learned so many new things.

              Q: How has your time at SAI as a research affiliate influenced your research? I know you have been to a lot of SAI events and have met a lot of people who have influenced your research.

              Anwar, second from right

              MA:  It has been amazing for me, really. I spent four years in the UK, and 3 years in Germany, have traveled around the world, so this is my seventh university altogether. I have studied in four universities, have worked in two universities, and have been a visiting fellow. At SAI, and at Harvard, I have seen debates and intellectual discussions that are going on here, which has no parallel and that is amazing. It means people are exchanging their views, they are debating the issues, and by that, you are learning new things as well, and more innovative things as well- more current research, more visionary ideas. What will happen next? That is something different, that each and every kind of group can have views, and can express freely. I have participated in a number of activities [classes and lectures at Harvard and in the area], and this has given me, on a whole, a broader scope of learning.

              Q: After your time at Harvard, what do you intend to do?

              MA: After Harvard, I plan to work with Asim [Khwaja], to design an experiment and return to Pakistan to develop policy guidelines for better quality higher education in Pakistan, and an improvement of higher education in all of South Asia.

              This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

                Karachi, Pakistan: Disaster Mitigation in the City of Migrants by Satchit Balsari

                By Satchit Balsari, Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University; Director, Global Emergency Medicine Program, Weill Cornell Medical College / NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

                Earlier this year, a delegation from SAI visited the Aga Khan University Hospital and observed some of Pakistan’s unique emergency care challenges.

                One of the most populous cities in the world, yet one of the least understood, especially in the West, is the bustling port-city of Karachi, home to over 20 million residents and financial capital of Pakistan. Spread over 1360 square miles, Karachi is a dense urban agglomeration accommodating over 15,000 people per square mile. Tracing its roots back to the old town of Kolachi, settled by Sindhi and Baloch tribes, Karachi saw exponential growth in the second half of the 20th century. Starting with a population of about 400,000 on the eve of Pakistan’s Independence in 1947, the city absorbed wave after wave of migrants—first Muhajirs from partitioned India, then immigrants from the newly independent Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan), and finally Pashtuns from Khyber Pankhtunkhwa, the Federally Administered Areas, northern Balochistan, and Afghanistan.

                Consequently, Karachi is now a bustling South Asian metropolis, with all the trappings of modern South Asian cities: overcrowding, unplanned growth, inadequate rapid transit facilities, poor water and sanitation facilities, unsafe housing, unorganized labor, and an unflappable, can-do populace with hopes for a better tomorrow.

                In addition to the challenges faced by rapidly expanding urban centers, Karachi faces the constant threat of terrorism. In 2013, there were 94 bombings in Karachi—one every four days. More than 700 Karachiites were injured, and 124 died. As recently as April 24, 2014, six people were killed and over 30 injured as a result of another suicide bomb in the city.

                The bombings have not spared healthcare facilities, either. In 2010, as victims of a bomb blast were being brought to one of Karachi’s premier public hospitals, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, a bomb went off outside the emergency department, shattering glass, breaking walls and injuring and killing patients and staff. Dr. Seemin Jamali, who has served as chief of the emergency department at JPMC for two decades recollects the day vividly. “We were busy taking care of the crowded emergency department when there was a huge explosion and I was thrown to the ground. One of my staff helped me out.” The sporadic bombs and targeted killings continue unabated, adding a sheen of perpetual uneasiness to daily city life. This reign of violence overlays all other medical emergencies in Karachi, including an astounding 30,000 annually reported road traffic injuries.

                 

                Read the full article.

                 

                 

                  Women in Politics: The Case of India

                  Left to right: Erum Sattar, HLS, Mariam Chughtai, HGSE, and Lakshmi Iyer, HBS

                  “This is not an India problem, or a South Asia problem. It is global,” said Lakshmi Iyer, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School at SAI’s webinar ‘Women in Politics: The Case of India.’ Iyer was referring to the fact that women comprise only 21 percent of national parliaments worldwide.

                  On Thursday, May 8, SAI hosted its last webinar of the semester with Professor Iyer. Using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), the interactive session included participation from 7 universities in South Asia, allowing students and administrators in the region to interact directly with Iyer. Questions were also submitted on social media.

                  Iyer’s presentation addressed two questions: Does electing women to political office make any difference? How can women’s representation in political office be increased? Based on her extensive research of the issue, Iyer explained that the answer to the first question is: Yes, electing women to political office makes a difference in many metrics. Iyer shared many statistics to support this claim, and said that this research can be applied to other disadvantaged groups, such as racial, religious and ethnic minorities.

                  Iyer’s research shows that electing more women to political office results in a range of policy changes and development outcomes. Particularly, she said there tends to be improvement in issues important to women, such as infant mortality and education. Another change is that giving political representation to disadvantaged groups increases their access to the criminal justice system, which means they may be more likely to report crimes.

                  Throughout the presentation, Iyer drew comparisons to other countries, including the United States. Many Western nations are not necessarily doing better than South Asian countries in getting more women elected. For example, women make up only 18 percent of the US congress.

                  Iyer addressed several methods for increasing political representation of women. More than 100 countries have some form of quotas in their electoral system, but research does not show that this is necessarily the most effective method. For example, India’s Panchayati Raj required that all states comply with a 1993 constitutional amendment for implementing quotas, but many states found ways to avoid the requirement.

                  In some countries, for example France and Spain, Iyer said that political parties opted to pay a fine rather than putting up women candidates, or they put women in races that the candidate is expected to lose anyway. This shows that mandating quotas from the outside does not always work.

                  An alternative method to increase participation of women could be the “demonstration” effect, an organic process that encourages more women to get involved in politics by seeing other women win elections. When more women are elected to office, more women are also likely to consider entering politics. Iyer said that relying on just this method would take a long time, and that there needs to be other efforts to get them involved. Quotas at lower levels of government, such as party organizational positions, can help, creating a “pipeline effect.”

                  Iyer said that the problem for increasing women’s political representation is not a “winnability” factor; her research shows that women candidates do well once they enter the race. From 1980-2013, only 5.9 percent of India’s state legislators were women, but only 4.7 percent of election candidates were women. The problem, then, happens before voting. Not enough women are becoming candidates.

                  Studies show that women are much less likely to consider themselves good candidates compared to men.  Women are also much less likely to be encouraged by others to run, due to a culture that sees politics as a ‘man’s field.’ Iyer ended her presentation by saying that a political career must be made more attractive and welcoming to women.

                  The following universities participated in the webinar: Aga Khan University, IED, Karachi, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Kinnaird College, Lahore, NED UET Karachi, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, University of Management, Lahore, and University of Sargodha, Sargodha.

                  Watch a recording of the full webinar.

                  View Iyer’s Powerpoint presentation.

                   

                  A sample of the conversation on Twitter:

                   

                    Aman Fellow Muhammad Zahir shares research on protohistoric cemeteries in Pakistan

                    Zahir, right, with Richard Meadow

                    On Thursday, May 1, Muhammad Zahir, SAI’s Aman Fellow for the spring semester, shared his ongoing archaeology research at a seminar titled ‘Modern Ethnicities and Ancient Graves: The Deconstruction and Re-Analysis of the Protohistoric Cemeteries and Ethnic Origin Stories in Pakistan.’

                    The seminar was chaired by Richard Meadow, Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory at the Harvard Peabody Museum, Senior-Lecturer in Anthropology at Harvard, and Project Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, who has served as Zahir’s mentor at Harvard, and has been excavating sites in Pakistan since 1974.

                    Since 2001, Zahir has been extensively involved in different archaeological excavations and surveys, publications, and museums’ documentation and management projects both in Pakistan and abroad.  He has also worked in the development and implementation of the UNESCO project for the preservation of the endangered movable cultural assets of Gandhara art in Pakistan.

                    Zahir has used the resources at Harvard to deconstruct and conduct a genealogical analysis of the concepts of Aryans in Pakistan archaeology; its use in the interpretation of archaeological remains, ethnic identities, and the personal and professional interests of archaeologists/academics involved, and the state patronage, and acceptance in Pakistan.

                    Zahir excavating in Swat, Pakistan

                    Zahir started the seminar by saying that he considers Pakistan the country with the richest archaeological history, given its strategic location for migration on the subcontinent. Zahir explained the Indus Civilization as the first large-scale urbanization in South Asia. Most of Zahir’s talk focused on protohistoric cemeteries and the Gandhara grave culture in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

                    These gravesites shed light on the burial practices and cremation customs of the various cultures in the region. Studying the pottery, human figurines and iron implements found at the sites has informed his research, and his work has debunked many of the commonly supported theories on archaeology in Pakistan. Meadow explained that the growth and evolution of technology in the last 10 to 15 years will help understand more of these paradigms.

                    Zahir is SAI’s inaugural Aman Fellow, an opportunity that supports recent PhDs and advanced professional degree holders in areas related to Pakistan, particularly areas of science and development.

                    “I am honoured to have been selected as the First Aman Fellow at Harvard South Asia Institute,” Zahir said about the position. “It 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”.

                    Of Dr. Zahir, Meadow wrote, “He has both the possibility and dedication to raise the bar quite significantly on the quality of archaeological work, interpretation, and instruction that is done in Pakistan, which would be a great boon to the country. He is developing a public presence within Pakistan and promises to be an important spokesman for the importance of the study and the preservation of the past for Pakistan’s future…”

                    Read more about the Aman Fellowship.


                    See the photo gallery below for photos from Zahir’s seminar:

                      Why study the brain?

                      “How can you possibly not be excited to study what the brain does?” This is what Professor Venkatesh Murthy, Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard, asked viewers across South Asia at SAI’s second webinar of the semester on Friday, March 14.

                      Using video conference technology provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), 15 universities in South Asia participated in the interactive session about the importance of studying neuroscience. Because everything we do comes down to the brain, the field has implications not just for science, but for all disciplines, Professor Murthy explained.

                      Murthy explained that the brain is incredibly complex. With 100 billion neurons, there are many things scientists still have to learn about the brain. Looking at just one area of the brain is like saying, “I know what the entire city is doing on a whole by looking at just one person.” We should think of how the brain works as a world wide web network: many computers talking to each other in a complex language.

                      Murthy predicted that in the next 100 years, we will see many advances in neuroscience. He explained that the brain’s ability to make sense of chaos can help us learn how to create things like machines and other technologies. For example, creators of Facebook’s facial recognition software can take inspiration from how the brain processes visual images. The growing field of big data can also learn from how the brain processes large amounts of information.

                      15 universities in South Asia participated in the webinar

                      Murthy answered several questions from students and faculty at participating universities, as well as questions submitted on social media. When asked about how aging affects the brain, he explained that, similar to an old bicycle, material in the brain degrades and neuron connections get worse. To counter this effect, he recommended that people work as late in life as possible, which helps keep the brain productive. Exercise is just as important for the body as it is for the brain, so we should take advantage of mental exercises that are available.

                      Are there differences in the composition of the brain based on gender? Murthy explained that it is “very difficult to separate brain differences form cultural differences.” The difference between genders is very subtle, so we must instead consider cultural influences to differentiate between what is learned and what is intrinsic.Several questions focused on how external factors affect the brain. Murthy explained that most scientists agree that the amount of power in phones is too small to affect neurons in the brain. Mood is clearly affected by the weather, although he said it is still unclear why this happens in the brain.

                      Answering a question about how someone can become a neuroscientist, Murthy commented that there is no reason you cannot change your path – just be open-minded. “It’s never too late to learn more,” he said.

                      The participating sites were: Agha Khan University, Institute of Educational Development, Karachi; Bahria University, Islamabad; Bahria University, Karachi;  Balochistan University of Engineering and Technology, Khuzdar; Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education; Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi;  Fatima Jinnah Women’s University; GIK Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology; Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar; King Edward Medical University, Lahore; Kinnaird College For Woman, Lahore; NED University of Engineering and technology, Karachi; Riphah international university, Islamabad; University of Health Sciences, Lahore; and University of Sargodha, Sargodha.

                      Click here to watch a full recording of the webinar.

                      The next SAI webinar ‘Women in Politics: The Case of India,’ will be Thursday, May 8, 2014.

                        Pakistan summer internship and research deadlines: March 19

                        SAI has extended the deadline for Pakistan-related summer internships and research grants to March 19, 2014. 

                         

                        Please note: Only undergraduates with Pakistani citizenship are eligible. Graduate students of any nationality are welcome to apply

                        CLICK HERE TO APPLY

                         

                        Application Components for SAI Pakistan Related Summer Grants

                        • 750-word proposal outlining your project
                        • For research grants: One-page bibliography including annotations on your research topic (disregard for language study)
                        • For internship grants: Letter of acceptance from host organization
                        • A current resume/CV
                        • Unofficial current transcript

                        Direct your recommenders to email letters directly to Nora Maginn, maginn@fas.harvard.edu

                        • Two letters of recommendation

                        ———————————————————————————————————————————

                         

                        The Aman Foundation is offering 2 internship opportunities this summer at Aman Health and Aman Tech 

                        Name: Aman Foundation (AMAN Health)
                        Location: Karachi Pakistan
                        Position: Intern
                        Schedule: Up to 8 weeks in the summer

                        About the Organization:
                        AMAN Foundation is a local, not-for-profit trust, based and operating in Karachi, Pakistan with the mission is to champion dignity and choice for the underserved in Pakistan through Sustainable, Scalable, and Systemic development in the areas of health and education. AMAN Foundation’s vision is to be a globally recognized knowledge center for innovative social investment and a prominent catalyst for social impact in Pakistan.

                        About AMAN Health Care Services:
                        AMAN Health Care Services is an SECP registered company operating under the umbrella of The AMAN Foundation. Its mission is to reduce barriers to health care, primarily for the under-served people of Pakistan, by offering high quality & affordable health services, building effective advocacy mechanisms & supporting critical research. Aman Health’s vision is to provide access to health care for all in Pakistan.

                        What we do: AMAN Health Care Service’s core functionality is to provide Health related services in the form of following 3 business units:

                        • Emergency Medical Services
                        • Aman Community Health Program
                        • Aman Tele-Health

                        Where we are located: Our head office is located at Korangi Karachi, Pakistan.

                        What we are looking in an Intern:
                        The intern will be responsible for:

                        • Reviewing the existing research done on health sector & key strategic initiatives taken by Aman
                        • Giving recommendation on the existing research
                        • Conducting interviews of key stake holders
                        • Developing reports on the basis of research done (in the form of Excel, Word or Powerpoint presentations)
                        • Reviewing the grey literature related to health sector
                        • Any other related task assigned by internship supervisor
                        • The intern will work with Dr. Junaid Razzak, CEO  of AMANHEALTH

                        Logistics
                        Office Location – Karachi, Pakistan
                        Start/End Dates – June 2 – July 31, 2014.
                        Compensation
                        Rs. 4,000 – 8,000 per month

                        *Please submit a CV and Cover Letter outlining your interest to sana.mahmood@amanfoundation.org and maginn@fas.harvard.edu
                        *Please submit all queries to sana.mahmood@amanfoundation.org
                        Deadline: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
                        *Please note: Only undergraduates with Pakistani citizenship are eligible for this position. Graduate students of any nationality are welcome to apply.

                         

                        Name: Aman Foundation (AMANTECH)
                        Location: Karachi, Pakistan
                        Position: Intern
                        Schedule: Up to 8 weeks in the summer

                        About the Organization:
                        AMAN Foundation is a local, not-for-profit trust, based and operating in Karachi, Pakistan with the mission is to champion dignity and choice for the underserved in Pakistan through Sustainable, Scalable, and Systemic development in the areas of health and education. AMAN Foundation’s vision is to be a globally recognized knowledge center for innovative social investment and a prominent catalyst for social impact in Pakistan.

                        AMANTECH is a large-scale establishment committed to serve neglected youth. This institute will provide a mix of vocational training and soft skills, and facilitate access to employment opportunities overseas. The Aman Foundation hopes to build a sustainable future for the youth of Karachi thereby vastly improving their standard of living. It intends to create a growing force of skilled workers with a positive mind-set and a strong work ethic. AMANTECH’s goal is to help place members of this workforce in regional organizations so as to enhance their earning capacity and generate foreign currency remittances for Pakistan.

                        Project or Type of Work
                        To analyze the organization structure and internal systems and suggest how to (a) improve these in line with Aman Foundation’s mission and vision (b) better organizational interface. Further, to act as a consultant on data analysis and quantitative methods which may improve the reporting structure of organization and analytical skills of staff.

                        Qualifications

                        • To suit requirement for above assignment.

                        Logistics
                        Office Location – Karachi, Pakistan
                        Start/End Dates – June 2 – July 31, 2014.
                        Compensation
                        Rs. 4,000 – 8,000 per month

                        *Please submit a CV and Cover Letter outlining your interest to sana.mahmood@amanfoundation.org
                        *Please submit all queries to sana.mahmood@amanfoundation.org and maginn@fas.harvard.edu
                        Deadline: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

                        *Please note: Only undergraduates with Pakistani citizenship are eligible for this position. Graduate students of any nationality are welcome to apply.

                         

                         

                         

                          Engineering Education in the 21st Century

                          What role does engineering education play in our modern society? According to Venkatesh Narayanamurti, Benjamin Peirce Professor of Technology and Public Policy at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, engineering is crucial to a well-rounded society.

                          On Thursday, February 27, SAI hosted its first webinar of the semester, titled ‘Societal Grand Challenges and the role of Engineering Education in the 21st Century’ with Professor Narayanamurti, who described engineering as “the ultimate liberal art” because of its role as a linking discipline.

                          Using videoconference software provided by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC), 15 sites in South Asia were able to participate live and interact with Narayanamurti. Viewers were also able to watch the webinar live on SAI’s website, and submit questions via Facebook and Twitter.

                          Narayanamurti started by describing the importance of engineering at leading universities like Harvard, saying that “we want renaissance engineers who not only know how things work, but how the world works.” He explained that all of the major accomplishments throughout history have happened because of engineering, and the economic impact of engineering is huge. “Engineering underpins the economy,” he said.

                          Explaining the role of engineering as a linking discipline, Narayanamurti said, “engineering is not applied science; it is science that is applied engineering.” He made a strong case for a well-rounded education in all fields, and said that we must encourage students to learn the creativity and innovation of entrepreneurship.

                          Another ‘grand challenge’ of engineering education is getting women involved, which Narayanamurti explained is vital for societies. He explained that women’s access to science education is more of a challenge in the developing world, but not one that cannot be overcome. Having women leaders in all fields is an important step: “Can women be renaissance engineers? Yes!” he said. “We need more women role models so that it is an accepted reality.”

                          15 sites from South Asia participated in the webinar

                          Narayanamurti spent time explaining what skills are vital to engineering education. From teaching his own class, he has learned that creativity, as well as analytic and problem-solving skills, are essential. Since Harvard has a strong global presence, it can serve to be a leader for this sort of education.

                          Throughout his presentation, Narayanamurti emphasized the importance of merging the study of engineering with biology, by combining the perfection of biology with the creativity of engineering, because “nature perfected how human beings and the living world were created.” Technology is evolving to become more human-like, which means merging biology with engineering is more important than ever.

                          After his presentation, Narayanamurti took questions from students and education leaders at the participating sites, as well as questions on social media from viewers in Pakistan, India, and Australia.

                          The universities participating live were: Bahria University Islamabad, Bahria University, Karachi, Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Attack, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education, Fatima Jinnah Women’s University, Rawalpindi,  Institute of Space and Technology Islamabad, Kinnaird College For Women, Lahore College of Women University, Lahore, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences Islamabad, University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, University of Malakand, and University Of Sargodah, Sargodah.

                          Mariam Chughtai, Ed.D. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education, moderated the discussion, and Meena Hewett, Executive Director of SAI gave an introduction. Erum SattarSJD Candidate, Harvard Law School, tracked the discussion on social media.

                          Click here to view all tweets from the discussion on Twitter.

                          Click here to view a recording of the whole webinar.

                          Click here to learn more about SAI’s upcoming webinars.

                          SAI’s webinars are made possible with the support of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).

                            Exploring South Asian urbanism in Karachi

                            “An urban time-bomb.” That is how Rahul Mehrotra of the Harvard Graduate School of Design described the explosive growth of contemporary cities across South Asia.

                            From January 9 to 12, 2014, Karachi became the gathering place for politicians, scholars, doctors, architects, urban planners, and citizens to explore issues related to rapid urban change at the Contemporary South Asian City Conference.

                            SAI Executive Director Meena Hewett with Harvard and Aman Foundation teams

                            The mega-conference, with over 3000 guests registered, took place at the historic Frere Hall, and was organized very efficiently over a three-day period. The conference aimed to generate new knowledge and insight into the driving forces, socioeconomic challenges and political implications facing the contemporary South Asian city.

                            The Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) was a sponsor for the conference, and a Harvard team participated in several panels on topics such as housing, urbanization, disaster response, mental health, and conservation. SAI’s Executive Director Meena Hewett also attended.

                            Hewett said that she saw the conference as an opportunity to help form new partnerships to address old problems: “It was a unique opportunity for participants to sit in on discussions on multiple issues of rapidly growing cities across South Asia… We hope keep up the momentum generated at this event,” she said. “For me, the important lessons were to not get bogged down with finding the perfect solution that has a major impact but to take on small challenges that produce immediate results creating a culture of optimism for social change.”

                            Two Harvard professors had the opportunity to give guest lectures. Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of around 300 people, Rahul Mehrotra, Chair and Professor of the Department of Urban Planning & Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design gave an eagerly anticipated presentation titled the ‘Kinetic City’  about elastic space in urban areas.

                            Professor Rahul Mehrotra speaking at the conference

                            Describing the venue of Frere Hall as a living manifestation of his theoretical ideas, he explained that the usually-vacant gardens were transformed and had become a “transient” space. He stressed that it is important to accept the evolving aspect of cities: “Change is happening rapidly… We have many cities that will soon become 1 million-people cities, and urban planners and designers can make a big difference to how things evolve in these municipalities,” he said. “Our cities are becoming complex and highly susceptible to malfunction because we are ignoring evolutionary gestures.” Mehrotra was also the discussant for the panel “Beyond the Nation-State: Emerging South Asian Urbanism,” which considered South Asian urbanism on a subcontinental scale.

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                            Jennifer Leaning of the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights also gave a guest lecture to around 75 people about disaster response in urban areas. Describing the stressful effect of disasters on cities, Leaning emphasized that preparation is key for cities, as well as an understanding of the structure of a society.

                            Jennifer Leaning

                            “If you are not actually paying attention to these vulnerabilities and endeavoring to mitigate them in the context of disaster planning, then at the time of a disaster these are the people who are going to suffer the most,” she added. “In this manner, disasters reflect the underlying structures, institutions, complexities and functioning of a regular society.”

                            The panels spanned three days, covering a variety of topics related to urban issues in South Asia. On January 10, Spiro Pollalis, Professor of Design, Technology and Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Design was the discussant for a panel titled “Professional Practice in South Asia,” which explored contemporary design implementation strategies in architecture and urban planning and featured leading professionals in the field.

                            On January 11, Justin D. Stern, a PhD Student in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, was the discussant of a panel titled “Constructing the ‘Right to the City’ in South Asia: Housing, Governance & the Civic Realm,” which examined the right to the South Asia metropolises. This is a difficult issue when the population of a city is divided into two groups: those that can afford private education, health, housing and transport, and the other group that uses services from the public sector. Spiro Pollalis also participated in this panel.

                             

                            Stern noted that South Asian cities need to consider new solutions:  “We have heard and read many times that South Asian cities are resilient, but we need to question ourselves if this resilience prevents us from finding holistic solutions to our problems,” he said.

                            On January 12, Ruth Barron, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of Outpatient Psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance was the discussant for a panel titled “Mental Health and the Urban Environment.” The panel featured Jennifer Leaning and Satchit Balsari, Fellow at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard and Director of the Global Emergency Medicine Program at Weill Cornell Medical College/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

                            The panel examined the complex relationship between mental health and urbanization in South Asian cities like Karachi.  In general, Barron said a sense of invulnerability is normal, but episodic trauma causes us to experience feelings of anger, disillusionment and stress: “These feelings are normal in terms of an extreme event, but the episode itself is not,” Barron explained.

                            “Most people do improve with time while others remain depressed and block normal feelings that are typical of our everyday lives.” Barron also discussed the importance of understanding secondary trauma, such as stress on emergency workers, doctors and nurses.

                            Although there is usually a large focus on caring for survivors, there is something else to consider after disasters. Leaning emphasized that the treatment and management of the dead is also vital: “They matter as much as survivors do,” she said. “There are survivors who are traumatized by dead people.”

                            “Depending on the individual’s culture, the mourning or burial should be in accordance so that the families don’t feel violated and haunted,” she added.

                            Jennifer Leaning was also the discussant for a panel on January 12 titled “Disaster and Mass Casualty Response in Urban Crisis,” which addressed the best practices for urban disaster planning and response, as well as trauma care in dense urban settings. Satchit Balsari participated in this panel.

                            Overall, the conference provided an excellent opportunity for experts to come together and address the most pressing issues facing contemporary South Asian cities.

                             

                            Click here to see media coverage of the conference.

                            Visit the Pakistan Urban Forum Facebook page to view more photos of the conference.

                             

                            *An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Rahul Mehrotra as saying “We have many cities that will soon become 100 million-people cities, and urban planners and designers can make a big difference to how things evolve in these municipalities.” The correct statement has been updated: “We have many cities that will soon become 1 million-people cities, and urban planners and designers can make a big difference to how things evolve in these municipalities”

                              Tackling gender violence across borders, digitally

                              On November 25, 2013, SAI hosted a webinar titled “Tackling Gender Based Violence in South Asia – What Options Do We Have?” as part of SAI’s ongoing webinar series. The interactive discussion featured sites across Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. To make the webinar interactive across the globe, SAI utilized social media to take questions and monitor the discussion online.

                              The event was made possible using live conference technology with the Higher Education Commission in Pakistan, which allowed the various sites to participate in the discussion live and ask questions during the event. The participating sites included universities in Pakistan, including in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Karachi, Multan, as well as centers in Pune, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Each site had around 20 students watching live and asking questions. The event was also streamed live on SAI’s website.

                              The faculty speaker was Professor 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 Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. After an introduction by Meena Hewett, Executive Director of SAI, Professor Bhabha gave a presentation about the issue of gender violence, and possible paths to prevention.

                              Professor Bhabha touched on several methods of prevention, including better police training, which also means an increase in accountability of elected officials. “For many women, this is a form of domestic terrorism,” Professor Bhabha said. There needs to be a shift in attitude about how sexual violence perpetrators are viewed, including increased impunity for offenders. She also advocated for increased protection for survivors, including support, rehabilitation, and a recognition of the effect on mental health. Medical workers must be better trained to recognize signs of domestic violence.

                              Professor Bhabha gave the example of an Indian journalist at Tehelka, who was recently accused of sexual harassment but claims to have done nothing wrong. This is an example of the social norms that govern societies in South Asia. As a political society, Professor Bhabha said it is also on the responsibility of everyone to try to change these norms.

                              In order to prevent gender-based violence, social norms must change. Professor Bhabha explained that gender norms have become skewed over the century. For example, many boys in South Asia grow up with a sense of entitlement that is learned from school, movies and on the street. The burden does not fall on one particular group or sector; rather society as a whole is to blame. Professor Bhabha also addressed the education system, which is not truly coeducational. She said that from a young age, many girls live in discreet gender worlds, which makes it hard to become familiar with normal social exchanges. It is vital that both girls and boys form normal friendships at a young age with the opposite gender and develop a sense of normalcy.

                              Professor Bhaba also discussed another troubling norm in South Asia: the apprehension to talk about sexual and reproduction issues, even among close family members. Discussing sexual health is seen as illicit. Sexual violence should not be seen as “a private shame, a guilty secret for the woman.” Access to contraception was also discussed, which Professor Bhaba described as an important right for a woman to be able to control her own fertility.

                              The gender hierarchy also plays a factor in social norms around gender violence. From a young age in the home, boys are encouraged to play and do homework, while girls spend their time working in the home. This is especially true in rural communities. Many boys are also influenced by peer-group pressure, which can result in boys becoming violent who would have not have otherwise participated. To combat this norm, Professor Bhaba explained that it is important to “make it cool to be kind, not to be aggressive,” and incentivize good behavior by making it the cool thing to do.

                              Going forward, Professor Bhaba shared several other strategies. She explained that the media can be an important ally when used correctly. For example, changing the dynamics of popular soap operas, telenovelas, in Latin America was seen as an effective way to reduce violence against women in that society. The development of new adolescent curriculum is vital, which is already underway in some areas. Professor Bhaba explained that groups of women organizing through activism can be very powerful.

                              Overall, Professor Bhaba explained that change must come from within communities, not from top-down. This is why many of the policies related to gender violence has failed to change the situation. Women, as well as men in communities, must work to change these social norms. Social and economic conditions that contribute to poverty must also be addressed in order to truly combat gender violence.

                              This issue, which has been making headlines around the world recently, is an important one for South Asia. This webinar helped to promote further discussion about prevention methods and showed that there are many people across South Asia who want to tackle this issue and promote change.

                              Mariam Chughtai, doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and SAI intern, moderated the discussion. Erum Sattar, SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School and SAI intern tracked the discussion on social media.

                              Blakeman Allen, who is the director of Pakistani Educational Leadership Project at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire wrote to SAI, saying, “Thanks again to SAI for providing more opportunities that address changes in societal norms. With the project encompassing 238 alumni change agents, and focusing on grassroots mobilization through educational leadership – and with over 75% of the alumni female leaders – the webinar resonated.  And the Pakistan real-time inclusion was wonderful, too.”

                              SAI will host more interactive webinars in the spring semester of 2014. Please check SAI’s website for future updates.

                                Graduate Students from HKS and HLS visit Pakistan

                                A group of graduate students from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School came to Pakistan for a week-long trek between August 11 and August 18, 2013. The trek, organized by the students through support from SAI in-country consultants, sought to develop a deeper understanding of issues and opportunities in Pakistan.

                                The delegation comprised of 8 students, hailing from Germany, Mexico, United States, and Pakistan, met with government institutions, civil society organizations, and leaders from media and entertainment industry.

                                The group visited the Aman Foundation, one of the partner organizations of SAI. The students engaged in a dialogue with the senior management of Aman Foundation and its associated companies about the role of social enterprises in enhancing social service delivery for the base of the pyramid consumers.  They toured the Aman Foundation, the AMANTECH campus – vocational and technical training arm of Aman Foundation, and the Aman Community Health Worker program community site, and met with field staff. They were deeply impressed by the on-ground presence and the lasting impact of Aman Foundation on Karachi. They discussed possibilities of internship, student projects, and long-term research engagements in Karachi with support from SAI.

                                After spending two days in Karachi, the delegation continued to Lahore – the capital of Punjab and the second biggest city of Pakistan. Lahore University of Management Sciences hosted the delegation, where they discussed the unique context of providing quality higher education in Pakistan.

                                The trek concluded with a excursion trip to the Himalayas in northern district of Pakistan. Through the lush planes of Naraan and Kaghan, a hike took them to the celebrated Lake Saif-ul-Mulook marked the highlight of the trip.

                                  Harvard Alum talk on flood risk reduction in the Indus Basin in Lahore

                                  On Friday, 16 August 2013, Center for Law and Policy hosted a talk by Laila Kasuri, a recent graduate from Harvard College with a concentration in environmental sciences and engineering, titled “A Decision Support System for Flood Risk Reduction in the Indus Basin.” The participants included Harvard alumni, law professors, and lawyers.

                                  Ms. Kasuri explained Pakistan’s water management problems during floods, which cause widespread devastation, and the opportunity Pakistan has to use the recent 2010 floods to have proper flood management regulations put in place. After describing the problems faced in Pakistan, Ms. Kasuri presented a case study on the Mississippi River, the largest river in the United States, and the U.S. government’s response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. Ms. Kasuri noted that certain tools used and techniques employed by the U.S. government after the flood were instrumental in providing a sustainable framework for effective flood disaster relief for the future. These measures can be applied to address Pakistan’s water management problems with the Indus River.

                                  Instead of employing reactionary stopgap responses to floods, long-term government legislation is needed in order to put effective water management methods in place, such as the U.S. government did after the 1927 flood with the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MRT). The use of hydraulic modeling technology, used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, can help Pakistan determine the least value lands around the Indus, which could serve as the best areas for flood water diversion. Ms. Kasuri demonstrated this by creating three maps of a sample area in Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh. The first map indicates where valuable agricultural lands are situated around the river. The second map displays population density in the sample area, and the third map shows general land use by the population in the area. By making an aggregate map of the former three, the land best suited for floodwater diversion can be pinpointed. With a diversion channel, water can be directed to low lying, low value lands in Dera Bugti, backwater areas in North Jacobabad, and to a reservoir that can be created, potentially, in Sukkur.

                                  Ultimately, policy makers will have to make decisions keeping in mind the rising population and monetary restraints, but the 2010 floods created an opportunity for them to readdress Pakistan’s flood management issues. To start, a centralize flood plan should be created to address where diversion channels can be created to reach lands that can more properly deal with flood water. People who live in those areas should be informed of the flood risk they are exposed to and those who relocate should be properly compensated. Better land use and improved infrastructure, especially along the Indus, will also go a long way in helping Pakistan develop their water management and flood response regulations.

                                  The talk was followed by a Q&A session. In the end, Syed Imad-ud-Din Asad [LL.M. (Harvard); Founder and Director, Center for Law and Policy] thanked Ms. Kasuri for sharing her views on this issue of national interest.

                                  View more photos on the Center for Law and Policy’s website.

                                    Professor Eck awarded Honorary Doctorate from SOAS

                                    Diana Eck receiving her Honorary Doctorate from SOAS

                                    On July 26,  Diana L. Eck, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Divinity by the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, at its graduation ceremonies in London. She was introduced to the Faculty and students by Professor Gurharpal Singh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Professor in Inter-Religious Relations and Development. Her citation commended both her work on India and on the South Asian diaspora communities of America, especially the Pluralism Project and its focus on the challenges of religious diversity.

                                    In  her address to the graduates, Professor Eck spoke about her own time at SOAS as a Fulbright scholar and a master’s degree student in the 1960s, recalling especially the life of the Common Room, with students from all over Asia, from the Middle East and Africa. She noted how much the world has changed in the decades since then, with the revolutions in communication and all that is signaled by “globalization.” In these years, SOAS has also grown into one of the premier centers in the world for the study of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

                                    “But over these years, some things have hardly changed at all. Deep differences –economic, political, and religious—continue to fracture and divide the world, locally and globally. We understand one another too little. The globalization of our conscience and consciousness is still underdeveloped. Our ignorance and prejudice circle the globe along with our credit card numbers and our greenhouse gases.”

                                    “It is this,” she said, “that makes your work as SOAS graduates essential to the world we live in today and more urgent than ever before. Diversity is just a fact, but pluralism is a creation. It is the achievement of a place like SOAS.  It is forged by the engagement across differences of cultures and continents that you have found here; it is forged by the energies on display in the SOAS Common Room, by the relationships you have made, and by the intellectual strengths you have found here. In the world in which we all live today, you are lucky to be graduates of this place. Negotiating difference, creating the infrastructure of pluralism, is both a global and local challenge.  It is your challenge as citizens of a fast-changing interdependent and complex world.

                                    Read more.

                                     

                                      Harvard South Asia Alumni Events

                                      The South Asia Institute has held several alumni events this summer, connecting alums with current and incoming students and faculty in Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi, and Lahore. A snapshot of the events are below. Visit our Facebook page to see photos from the various locations.

                                      Dhaka, Bangladesh

                                      On July 17, SAI organized a casual dinner in Dhaka for local Harvard community with Professor Richard Cash, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health. Professor Cash is a visiting lecturer at the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University. Attendants included alumni Moushumi Khan (HKS), Francisco Flores (HSPH), and Hector Soliman (HSPH). Several current students are in Dhaka for the summer with exciting internships also were present, inclujding Fan Li (HLS), who working with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, and Eric Duniplace and Christine Simon (both HSPH) who are with the Population Council. Maria May, SAI’s consultant in Dhaka, was also present at the event.

                                      Delhi, India

                                      SAI, along with the Harvard Club of Delhi and the Harvard India Student Group, hosted One Harvard Young Harvard, an alumni and current student networking night on July 18th .The evening included presentations by Pravin H. Parekh, President of the Harvard Club of India, Nora Maginn, SAI Programs Manager, Ishani Mehta, President of the Harvard India Student Group and HKS student.

                                      Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan

                                      SAI, along with the the HBS Club of Pakistan and the Harvard Pakistan Student Group, hosted alumni dinners in Karachi and Lahore on July 2nd and 4th, respectively. As a special guest at the dinners, Meena Sonea Hewett, SAI Executive Director, met with more than 50 alumni and current students. Attendees included SAI summer interns along with other Harvard students in the country.