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The Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. 

About SAI | View the South Asia Institute video 

Upcoming Events

Sat, March 7, 2015 - Sun, March 8, 2015  /  Harvard Kennedy School

India Conference at Harvard

The India Conference at Harvard is one of the largest India conferences in the US. It is hosted at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School by the graduate students of Harvard University.

The conference will bring together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists, and many other leaders to engage in a conversation about India’s path to Global leadership.

Cosponsored by SAI.

Q+A: India’s path to global leadership

Conference website.

Sat, Mar 7, 2015

Sun, Mar 8, 2015

Harvard Kennedy School, TBD

79 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge

Mon, March 9, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  Science Center Hall A

Beyond Harvard

SAI Student Event

Rahul BoseActor, Director & Social Activist

Chair: Richard DelacyPreceptor in Hindi and Urdu, Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University 

Welcome by Rakesh Khurana, Dean of Harvard College

Described as the ‘Indian art house icon’ by TIME magazine, Rahul Bose won Best Actor, Singapore Film Festival, and Best Debut Director (second prize), for ‘Everybody Says I’m Fine!’ at Palm Springs. His NGO, The Foundation, works in the areas of education and child sexual abuse. He is an Oxfam Global Ambassador and is a former India international rugby player.

Cosponsored with the Harvard India Student Group

Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 04:00pm

Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 05:30pm

Science Center Hall A

Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138

Tue, March 10, 2015 from 09:00am - 10:30am

Webinar: Planning and Preparedness

9:00 AM in Cambridge, 5:00 PM in Pakistan, 5:30 PM in India, 5:30 PM in Sri Lanka, 6:00 PM in Bangladesh, 5:45 PM in Nepal

Payal Modi, MD, MPH, Fellow, Brigham & Women’s Hospital International Emergency Medicine Fellowship

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.

This will be SAI’s third webinar in the series on Disaster Management and Emergency Response

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

This webinar was originally scheduled for February 10, 2015.

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 09:00am

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 10:30am

Thu, March 12, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S250

Sufi Shrines and the Secular State

Muslim Societies in South Asia Seminar

Anna B. Bigelow, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, North Carolina State University

Chair: Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University

Sufi tomb shrines in India are well-known for their multi-religious constituencies. Yet the status of these sites is contested and ambivalent, with some groups lauding and celebrating them while others seek to undermine their diverse appeal. This presentation will compare cases of cooperation and conflict at two sites in Karnataka to explore the pragmatics of state secularism as well as local strategies of accommodation and competition.

Cosponsored with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program

Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 04:00pm

Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S250
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Tue, March 24, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S250

The Silk Road to South Asia through Bangladesh

 South Asia Without Borders Seminar

Hasna Moudud, Visiting Fellow, Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University; SAI Research Affiliate

Chair: Roderick MacFarquhar, Leroy B. Williams Research Professor of History and Political Science

This talk will examine the Tea Horse Road, from Yunnan tea country that travels through Tibet, India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, which was once one of the oldest and major trade routes, but is now forgotten. The recent excavations in Bangladesh, and evidence from archaeological, iconography and literary sources, indicate a closer and greater exchange between China and South Asia. Moudud will speak about her time traveling through the Silk Road.

Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 04:00pm

Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S250
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Wed, March 25, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm

The Politickle Pickle: A Conversation on Indo-US Relations

SAI Special Event

Tanvi Madan, PhD Fellow, Foreign Policy Director, The India Project The Brookings Institution

Chair: Nicholas Burns, Sultan of Oman Professor of the Practice of International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School

Cosponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the WCFIA Fellows Program. Supported by the Hindustan Times and the South Asian Art Council – Boston.

Opinion by Nicholas Burns ‘A US-India Comeback?’ in The Boston Globe

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 04:00pm

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 05:30pm

Wed, March 25, 2015 from 12:30pm - 01:30pm  /  FXB Building, Room G13

Outlook for public health spending in India and the role of non-health sectors in improving health

SAI Global Health Event 

Ramanan Laxminarayan, Vice President for Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India; Director, Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington DC; Research Scholar and Lecturer at Princeton University

Professor Laxminarayan is Vice President for Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India. He is an economist and epidemiologist by training. His research work deals with the integration of epidemiological models of infectious diseases and drug resistance into the economic analysis of public health problems.

Prof Laxminarayan also directs the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in Washington DC, and is a Research Scholar and Lecturer at Princeton University.

 Co-sponsored with the India Health Partnership in the Department of Global Health and Population, and the Harvard Global Health Institute

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:30pm

Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 01:30pm

FXB Building, Room G13
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

651 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA

Fri, March 27, 2015 from 12:15pm - 01:45pm  /  CGIS South, S153

Myanmar’s Delicate Imbalance: the predicament of the short game vs the long game in a complicated neighborhood (or, why the ‘environment’ gets a back seat)”

Robert Anderson, Development & Sustainability Program, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

Late this year Myanmar will stage elections, again. There are welcome changes which make this time quite different from the earlier two contests. Reflecting further back ten years, however, even those limited changes were very hard to foresee. Anderson will review some of the factors which brought about the new political phase (2010-2014), risk an analysis of the next nine months, and try to forecast the long game. However, the Asian neighborhood in which Myanmar’s development occurs has become even more complicated than it was during the ‘new phase’ (2010-2014). As a specialist in the political-economy of resources and environment, Anderson will explain why Myanmar’s long game has to depend on a very different approach, even if environmental policy and law are currently taking a back seat.

Anderson will also briefly describe the creation of an Environmental Studies Program at the University of Yangon, and a national Climate Change Working Group. These efforts reveal that although it is difficult to negotiate change, it is nevertheless possible.

Robert Anderson (PhD in anthropology, University of Chicago, 1971) is working to build a network of young environmentalists in Myanmar. He has spent a month in the country every year since 1999. His published work includes books on tropical forestry in India and the World Bank, rice cultivating systems and the green revolution in Asia, and the nuclear history of India.

Lunch will be served.

Cosponsored with the Harvard Asia Center Modern Asia Seminar

Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 12:15pm

Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 01:45pm

CGIS South, S153
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


    Annual Symposium: April 16 and 17, 2015

    The 2015 Annual Symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners for a series of workshops on SAI’s ongoing research projects and see the launch of an exhibit and book on Mapping the Ephemeral City: Kumbh Mela 2013.

      Innovative healthcare solutions

      Read highlights from SAI’s roundtable discussion in the Bay Area on India’s healthcare system organized in collaboration with USAID and the South Asian Healthcare Leadership Forum.

        The City and South Asia Podcast: Floating on Waste Islands

        The processes of urbanization, globalization, and climate change have made traditional methods of waste management difficult for the Maldives. In this podcast, SAI talks with Krishna Matturi, recent GSD graduate, about the country’s “unique culture of waste” and its possible solutions.

          Update from the Harvard Club of Nepal

          On Feb. 10, the Harvard Club of Nepal (HCN) hosted an event in Kathmandu with two newspaper editors who discussed the current political situation in the country and the role that media could play in resolving the chaos of constitution-making. The HCN, a group of Harvard alumni, has recently been reactivated.

            International Photo Contest Winners

            Congratulations to Gillian Slee, Harvard College ’16, and Sara Melissa Theiss, Harvard College ’15, who were chosen by SAI as winners for the Office of International Education’s Annual International Photo Contest.

              A US-India comeback?

              In an op-ed for The Boston Globe, SAI Steering Committee member Nicholas Burns, HKS, explains how President Obama’s visit to India for Republic Day is an important symbolic gesture that may kickstart the revival both countries have been looking for.

                Kashmir’s women in wait

                “More than the political aspect, it is understanding how women cope with the phenomenon of disappearances that appealed to me as a filmmaker,” says director Nilosree Biswas in an interview with SAI on the unique culture of Kashmir.

                  The City and South Asia

                  In SAI’s second annual publication, The City and South Asia, experts from a variety of fields, at both Harvard and elsewhere, have come together to hold up a cross-disciplinary lens to urban centers in South Asia.

                    Report on the Harvard US-India Initiative Conference

                    “If yesterday’s events urged participants to immerse themselves in the world of ideas, today’s panelists gave us diverse and exceptional examples of how to apply these ideas in practice,” writes Zeenia Framroze, Harvard College ’15, about the conference.

                      Creating a better India

                      SAI recently talked to Namrata Narain, Harvard College ’15, one of the organizers of the Harvard US-India Initiative’s (HUII) Annual Conference, to learn more about how HUII is working to increase discussions on important issues by connecting young academic communities in India and the US.

                        2014 Student Grant Report

                        In 2014, SAI awarded 46 grants to students to do a variety internships and research projects in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Read first-hand experiences from students in SAI’s Grant Report.

                          Tragedy in Pakistan

                          “This is a day of deep reflection. War strategy against extremists, whether through drone strikes or carpet-bombing, must factor in the lives of children beyond collateral damage and prepare especially to protect the most vulnerable in society on both sides.”

                            Ayesha Jalal: The Struggle for Pakistan

                            In a SAI Book Talk on Dec. 3, renowned Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal, Tufts University, spoke about her new book and highlighted the need for a comprehensive historical interpretation of Pakistan’s narrative and encouraged members of the audience to view the history of the country through a geopolitical lens rather than a religious one.

                              SAI Fellowships

                              The South Asia Institute offers several opportunities for scholars and practitioners to continue their research at Harvard University in Cambridge. Deadline to apply: January 15, 2015 for Academic Year 2015-2016.

                                2015 Student Winter Grant Recipients

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

                                  Shaping problem-solvers

                                  A Harvard Gazette article looks at SAI Director Tarun Khanna’s Gen Ed course, which spans disciplines to address social, economic challenges in South Asia.