To say that 2017 was a pivotal year for the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (SAI), Harvard University, would be an understatement, thanks to a generous $25m naming gift from Lakshmi Mittal and his family. We at SAI have continued to expand its mission to actively address issues of equity, sustainability, and liveability in South Asia through our seminar series, conferences, fellowships, interdisciplinary projects and student and faculty grants. In 2017 alone, SAI hosted more than 50 seminars – featuring a visionary doctor, filmmaker, activist and more. We funded student and faculty research on critical contemporary issues ranging from disaster preparedness in Nepal and financial inclusion in Pakistan to menstrual management in India. To document and disseminate our work, SAI released a dozen podcasts including a series on the Partition Project.
2017 also saw an expansion of SAI’s physical presence in South Asia. Thanks to the generous support of alums, we have a flagship regional office in Delhi, led by our India Director, Sanjay Kumar. For the Partition Project, SAI helped set up research teams in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Harvard, and has organized several faculty presentations throughout South Asia, the US and UK.
SAI’s Highlights of 2017
November: SAI hosted a timely, important panel discussion on Myanmar and the Rohingya crisis. Journalist Francis Wade, one of the participants, discusses his work in the region in an interview with SAI.
October: India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, delivered the 2017/18 SAI Mahindra Lecture, which is available as a podcast.
August: 50 first-generation college students from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa took part in the fully-funded, Harvard faculty-led Crossroads Summer Program in Dubai
July: Our India Director, Sanjay Kumar, wrote a powerful op-ed in The Hindu about food wastage as a “social delinquency.”
June: SAI Director, Tarun Khanna, spoke about our Partition Project at the WEF in China.
May: SAI held its annual Symposium and published our official review of 2016/17.
April: TM Krishna, the great Carnatic vocalist, delivered the 2016/17 Mahindra Lecture. Rajna Swaminathan also performed and spoke at the event, and shared her reflections afterwards.
March: By now, SAI’s Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginning (B4) Program was well under way. Venkatesh Murthy talks about the importance of introducing neuroscience to Indian students in a blog post by the Harvard University Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
January: SAI Steering Committee member and Harvard Kennedy School professor, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, spoke to Harvard Magazine about his work on tax collection in Pakistan.