By Tarun Khanna (Director, SAI; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School)
Both my mother’s and my father’s sides of our family migrated from what is now Pakistan. As a result of Partition, many of them had to leave their lives behind, with years of hard work quickly wiped out, when they moved to New Delhi and were forced to start again. Partition has always been part of my family’s folklore but my grandfather, who bore the brunt of it, passed away very early. I never had the opportunity to discuss it with him.
At the SAI, we have embarked on a major research project to understand the history, context and continuing impact of Partition, as its 70th anniversary approaches. There has, of course, always been a great deal of interest in this defining historical event from scholars at Harvard and elsewhere. Professor Jennifer Leaning’s team from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has been studying Partition for more than a decade — her ongoing work is central to our collective research.
At the SAI, we have already undertaken a major interdisciplinary project of a similar scale. Our work on the Kumbh Mela was a very successful collaborative effort involving dozens of faculty, students, graduates and undergraduates. We created a platform so that other people could participate; scholars from the region as well as other universities around the world. We produced scholarly papers, videos, architectural designs and ultimately, a book.
This is part of a series of reports from Harvard students who have traveled to South Asia with support from a SAI grant.
By Joshua Jeong, Doctor of Science Global Health and Population 2019
Through the generous support of the South Asia Institute’s Winter session Research Grant, I was able to travel to Pakistan this January to launch a primary qualitative research study, which will comprise one chapter of my doctoral dissertation. More broadly, my dissertation utilizes a variety of methodologies to better understand how fathers contribute to their young children’s early well-being in specifically low- and middle-income countries. For my qualitative study, I am focusing specifically in Pakistan and employing both in-depth interviews and direct parent-child observations with mothers and fathers to understand drivers and experiences around parenting in the particular cultural context of rural impoverished Pakistan.
The South Asia Institute (SAI) fully endorses Harvard President Drew Faust’s response to the Trump Administration’s executive order restricting travel to the United States.
We offer our full support to Harvard students, faculty, staff and affiliates, regardless of their country of origin or religious background, alongside the Harvard International Office and the university’s Global Support Services. We encourage all South Asia scholars to apply for our programs.
The work of universities in the world has never been more vital. The SAI is committed to the advancement of global scholarship and understanding, and our work in this fascinating, important region will continue. Across many borders, our diverse students and scholars are aiming to generate knowledge and insights that transcend and outlive any temporary barriers to progress.
This was published in Pakistan Today.
The Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) in collaboration with the LUMS School of Education (LUMS SOE) and Harvard South Asia Institute (Harvard SAI) organized an exclusive music and poetry evening on Jan. 17. Renowned musician Ali Sethi and Harvard Divinity School Professor Mr Ali Asani put together a special set which they performed to an enthralled audience at the Ali Institute of Education.
This article was published in Harvard Magazine. It highlights the work of SAI Steering Committee Member Asim Khwaja.
By Marina N. Bolotnikova
AROUND THE WORLD, tax receipts in low- and middle-income countries are much lower than they ought to be. Poor recordkeeping makes it easy for people to pay less than they owe; distrust that taxes will be returned as government services undermines people’s willingness to pay. Absent a strong culture of civic participation, policymakers need to find ways to improve tax compliance without further degrading public faith in institutions.
Asim Khwaja, Sumitomo-FASID professor of international finance and development, who directs the Evidence for Policy Design program at the Harvard Kennedy School, has spent the last few years working with the government of Punjab (the most populous province in Pakistan, home to Lahore and more than 100 million people) to study that problem. In Pakistan, tax collectors’ salaries are largely predetermined, based on experience and education. With no financial incentive to bring in more revenue, collectors frequently collude with taxpayers, accepting large bribes in exchange for tax write-offs. Both taxpayer and tax collector thus benefit—at the expense of the state. Khwaja and his colleagues, London School of Economics professor Adnan Khan and MIT professor Benjamin Olken, thought that improving the tax collectors’ performance would be straightforward: pay them based on how much revenue they collected. And indeed this is what they found: employees incentivized in this way collected much more than employees paid through the existing system.
This article was originally published by the Wall Street Journal. Muhammad Zaman, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, is a visiting faculty member at SAI.
This article was originally published by Dawn.com about a Jan. 13 SAI event cosponsored with Habib University.
By Haneen Rafi
KARACHI: In an attempt to deconstruct negative stereotypes about Islam that are rampant in popular discourse, there is an urgent need to understand and propagate it from an aesthetic approach, said Harvard scholar Prof Ali Asani during his talk at Habib University on Friday.
While highlighting the importance of religious and cultural literacy in a cosmopolitan world, Prof Asani gave a nuanced perspective to the differences that set us apart, which have resulted in polarisations and created conflicts.
Prof Asani teaches Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, and is also the former Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Programme at Harvard.
The Harvard South Asia Institute has awarded 15 grants to support student projects over the Winter Session 2016 in January. These include 12 graduate students and 3 undergraduate students who will travel to India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Pakistan for research and internships.
Mei Yin Wu Applied Math, 2017 Harvard College
Wildlife Conservation Trust Internship
Zayan Faiyad, Economics 2018 Harvard College
Field research to identify root causes of achievement gap in state-regulated Madrasas in Bangladesh
Mahnoor Khan, Government 2017 Harvard College
Desensitization to Violence and its Affect on an Individual’s Moral Decision Making in Pakistan