On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, faculty, administrators and friends of SAI gathered at the Harvard Faculty Club to celebrate the renaming of the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University. The renaming of the Institute follows the generous gift of $25 million from Lakshmi Mittal and his family to create an endowed fund for the institute.
Members of the Harvard community who have been integral to the development of SAI gave remarks and toasted to the future of the institute.
Jorge Dominguez (Former Vice Provost of International Affairs; Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico at Harvard University; Chair of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies) gave the introductory remarks. Dominguez was a fundamental force behind the inception of SAI and was instrumental to the formal recognition of SAI from an initiative to an academic institute. He commended SAI for the work that the institute does to lead the University’s intellectual and academic inquiry on area-specific global issues. Dominguez also recognized the role that Sugata Bose played as the first faculty director of SAI and described SAI executive director Meena Hewett as both the left and right arm of Tarun Khanna.
Nitin Nohria (Dean of Harvard Business School) shared how the Partition Project has been personally meaningful since both of his parents grew up 10 miles on opposite sides of the present-day India and Pakistan border. He also reflected on how the Kumbh Mela project all began at a dinner party at Rahul Mehrotra’s house. Nohria marveled at how a simple idea transformed into “a stunning project that gives us a truly One Harvard view of the Kumbh Mela.” He ended his comments by saying, “I hope that with this endowed gift, this tradition will continue for a long, long time and that there will be people who in the same way that I can say today, feel magically touched by all that this institute does.”
Tarun Khanna (Faculty Director of the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School) remarked on his excitement for the future of SAI and his commitment to the founding principles of the institute. “I think we are just at the beginning of a wonderful journey. I will continue to emphasize the two principles around which we have founded the institute. One is to be open and inclusive to everybody. In a very deep and profound sense, I intend for this institute to be content agnostic. Not be mistaken for being empty of content, it should be interpreted as what it is, a philosophical commitment to an incredible openness. The second is a trend that Harvard will increasingly recognize over time, the idea of having people actually physically present in different locations. We take very seriously the idea that you should be part of the intellectual fabric of the places where you want to work.”
Pictures by Samatha Wiratunga