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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

Tue, April 28, 2015 from 02:30pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S030

Intizar Husain: A World Class Fiction-Writer and The Social Ethics of Yaqub Mirza

Muslim Societies in South Asia Seminar

Chair: Dr. Naseem Hines 

Cosponsored with the Harvard Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program and Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF) Literary Circle

Schedule and Speakers:

First Session: 2:30 pm -3:30 pm

Opening Remarks: Dr Naseem Hines

Intizar Hussain: Contemporary World Class Urdu Fiction
Dr Razia Mushkoor

The Worldview of Intizar Hussain
Dr Agha Saeed

Best of Intizar Hussain by Intizar Hussain – Video / Skype

Second Session: 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Urdu Poetry – 1:  3:30 pm-4:00 pm

Habib Jalib:  The Poet of Many Epochs
Nazir Qaiser, Hafizullah Khan Niazi

The Best of Habib Jalib
Rendition by Tahira Habib Jalib – Skype

Urdu Poetry – 2: 4:00 pm -4:30 pm

Nazir Qaiser:  The Aesthetic Poet of Contemporary Pakistan
Hafizullah Khan Niazi

Aesthetic Inheritor of Munir Niazi and Nasir Kazmi
Dr. Agha Saeed

Best of Nazir Qaiser by Nazir Qaiser

Third Session: 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Social Ethics of Dr Yaqub Mirza
Dr Agha Saeed

Essentials of “The Five Pillars of Prosperity”
Dr Yaqub Mirza

Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 02:30pm

Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S030
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Wed, April 29, 2015 at 04:15pm  /  CGIS South, S020 Belfer

Astu – So Be It

Film Screening

Astu, directed by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar, and starring Dr. Mohan Agashe, focuses on a retired Sanskrit professor who suffers from Alzheimer’s and goes missing while travelling with his daughter.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

Dr. Mohan Agashe, actor, psychiatrist, and consultant in mental health

Professor Arthur Kleinman, Director of the Harvard Asia Center; Professor of Anthropology, Psychiatry and Medical Anthropology

Professor Diana Eck, Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, Harvard University

Dr. Ruth Barron, Cambridge Health Alliance and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Cosponsored with the Harvard University Asia Center

Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 04:15pm

Wed, Apr 29, 2015

CGIS South, S020 Belfer
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02138

Thu, April 30, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S050

Summer in South Asia: Pre-Departure Orientation

This is an orientation for students who are traveling to South Asia in summer 2015, and will include travel tips and logistics, health and safety information, cultural introduction, and will provide an opportunity to meet other students who will be in the region. Food will be served!

All Harvard Students traveling to South Asia in the summer are welcome. Please RSVP to Nora Maginn, if you’d like to join.

Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 04:00pm

Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S050
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Thu, April 30, 2015 from 08:30am - 10:00am  /  Allison Dining Room, Harvard Kennedy School

South Asia Week 2015: Ambassador Husain Haqqani – Pakistan and US: Dealing with Divergent Interests?

Ambassador Husain Haqqani examines the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan in a seminar co-sponsored by the India and South Asia Program.

A Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Husain Haqqani served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2011 and is widely credited with managing a difficult partnership during a critical phase in the global war on terrorism. His distinguished career in government includes serving as an advisor to four Pakistani Prime ministers, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi. He also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka in 1992-93.

Ambassador Haqqani’s 2005 book “Pakistan Between Mosque and Military” has been praised in major international journals and newspapers as a path-breaking book on Pakistan’s political history. The book received favorable reviews in Foreign Affairs, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and academic journals and has sold more copies than any other academic book on Pakistan in the last decade.

Ambassador Haqqani is the Director of the Center of International Relations, and a Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University. His specializations include: Diplomacy, Muslim Political Movements, International Journalism, Intercultural Relations, South Asia, Central Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, and U.S.-Pakistan Relations.

Cosponsored with the Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard Kennedy School

Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 08:30am

Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 10:00am

Allison Dining Room, 5th Floor Taubman Building, Harvard Kennedy School

Allison Dining Room, 5th Floor Taubman Building, 79 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Fri, May 1, 2015 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS Knafel, K262

The Idea of the Universal Human: Kuvempu on Self, Society, and Politics

SAI South Asia Without Borders Seminar

Chandan Gowda, Professor of Sociology, Azim Premji University

Chair: Parimal G. Patil, Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Committee on the Study of Religion, FAS, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies

Kuvempu (1904-1994), the famous Kannada literary figure, observed, “The Veda is an unfinished book.”  Influenced by the vedantic thought of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo, Kuvempu did not consider the Vedas and the Upanishads as texts of Brahminical orthodoxy; instead, for him, they constituted India’s common spiritual heritage that both provided moral guidance and allowed for their own renewal in relation to contemporary politics.  Kuvempu’s critiques of caste and religious orthodoxy were inseparable from his concerns with reconstructing the “Bharatiya” philosophical heritage.  This paper reconstructs Kuvempu’s ethics of self-making and their epistemic and social significance through an examination of his ideal of Vishvamanava (“Universal Human”) and its embodiment in a few of his writings and in Mantra Mangalya, a new form of marriage that he introduced in 1966.

Fri, May 1, 2015 at 04:00pm

Fri, May 1, 2015 at 05:30pm

CGIS Knafel, K262
Harvard University

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Fri, May 1, 2015 from 01:00pm - 02:30pm  /  CGIS South, S050

India’s Prospects and Policy Challenges

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Republic of India

Chair: Rohini PandeMohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School



Fri, May 1, 2015 at 01:00pm

Fri, May 1, 2015 at 02:30pm

CGIS South, S050
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Mon, May 4, 2015 from 12:00pm - 01:30pm  /  CGIS South, S050

Remaking a nation: Nepal’s tryst with peace, constitutionalism and sovereignty

SAI Book Talk

Prashant Jha, Associate Editor, Hindustan Times.

Chair: Madhav Khosla, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Theory, Department of Government, Harvard University

Lunch will be served.

Mon, May 4, 2015 at 12:00pm

Mon, May 4, 2015 at 01:30pm

CGIS South, S050
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

Mon, May 4, 2015 from 04:30pm - 06:00pm  /  CGIS South, S250

Transforming Indian Cities: A Governance Challenge

Special Event

Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, Board of Governors, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER)

Chair: Tarun Khanna, Director, South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia is a renowned Indian economist, with wide experience in the fields of economic growth, productivity, industrial and trade policy reforms, and urban planning and development. She is currently Chairperson on the Board of Governors for the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a leading think-tank based in New Delhi engaged in policy oriented research. At ICRIER, Dr Ahluwalia is leading a major research and capacity building programme on the challenges of urbanisation in India. She was awarded Padma Bhushan by the President of India in the year 2009 for her services in the field of education and literature.

Mon, May 4, 2015 at 04:30pm

Mon, May 4, 2015 at 06:00pm

CGIS South, S250
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA


Harvard For Nepal

Harvard for Nepal is a university-wide initiative that aims to unite Harvard in response to the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April 2015.

    South Asia Week 2015

    The Future of Diplomacy Project, in partnership with SAI, will be hosting its annual South Asia Week, beginning Friday, April, 24, featuring an impressive array of regional practitioners and experts on India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

      David Bloom named Andrew Carnegie Fellow

      Congratulations to David Bloom, SAI Steering Committee member, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who was named one of 32 inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellows.

        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.

          Q+A with Asma Jahangir

          In an interview with SAI, Jahangir discusses women’s empowerment, freedom of expression, and Pakistan’s complicated political relationships with India and the US. Jahangir delivered the Asia Center’s Tsai Lecture on Mar. 4

            A literary colossus

            The Murty Classical Library of India hopes to introduce a vast corpus of literature, thought, and science to fresh audiences across the world. “It’s completely transformative,” said Parimal Patil, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies and SAI Steering Committee member.

              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.