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News Category: Faculty

Second Annual Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program

Harvard professors will welcome 70 first-generation college students from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia to the Second Annual Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program in Dubai, a unique, fully-funded career development opportunity for accomplished, ambitious young people who have already had to overcome significant barriers to higher education. 

During the pilot program in 2017, 50 students engaged with each other and faculty through the renowned Harvard Business School case-study method of teaching and learning, exposing them to real, contemporary business scenarios. Executives from leading private and publicly-owned multinational companies visited the classroom to interact with students and offer their invaluable wisdom and experience.  

The successful cohort of 2017 included a young woman from a city in Pakistan with the country’s lowest female literacy rate. An Indian student had  worked as a garbage collector to pay his school fees.

The 2018 program will see a larger, even more diverse group of students exposed to a greater variety of disciplines within Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM), business and leadership.

Harvard faculty leading the program include Tarun Khanna, SAI Director and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; and Karim R. Lakhani, Charles E. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, and the faculty co-founder of the HBS Digital Initiative. 

Crossroads Program, 2017

The program will cover the costs of international travel, board, lodging and class  materials, for students who are the first in their families to attend college and may also be facing challenging financial and social circumstances that discourage them from applying to postgraduate schools. 

Crossroads is organized in partnership with the Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the support of  DIFC, Air Arabia, the Dubai Future Accelerator and  Expo 2020.

For more information, please contact or visit The Crossroads website. 


Free Online edX Course: “Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies”


SAI Director and Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna, in collaboration with HarvardX, has re-opened his free online course Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies. The six-week course is open for enrollment now and runs from Feb 28-Jul 30, 2018. 

Students will make connections with others from around the world who have similar interests in this topic. The content of the course will give students an awareness of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in fast-growing emerging markets, a conceptual framework for evaluating such opportunities, and an appreciation of the types of problems that lend themselves to entrepreneurial solutions.

Sign-up for this free course at

SAI and Tata Trusts Begin Social Enterprise Partnership in India


Harvard Faculty Jacqueline Bhabha, Conor Walsh and Satchit Balsari

(l-r) Jacqueline Bhabha, Conor Walsh and Satchit Balsari


A wide range of India-focused research, innovation and social entrepreneurship projects are under way, led by leading Harvard University scholars and academic colleagues from two other world-class educational institutions: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), in an unprecedented collaboration with Tata Trusts, one of India’s largest and most important philanthropic organizations.

This is Phase II of a long-term partnership between Tata Trusts and the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (SAI), Harvard University. Phase I was a series of successful pilot projects over an 18-month period, in three areas: women’s empowerment, rural livelihood creation in the handicrafts sector, and the use of science and technology for livelihood creation.

“We have a lot to learn from challenges on the ground while sharing what we as academics uncover through our deep dive research on issues affecting entrepreneurship in India. This partnership with the Tata Trusts is laying the foundation for innovative knowledge exchange between academia and practitioners.” – Professor Tarun Khanna, Director, SAI, and Professor, Harvard Business School.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, which has a unique capacity to gather together the best minds from a wide variety of disciplines, all dedicated to solving the most complex social problems in India.” – Manoj Kumar, Head of Innovation, Tata Trusts.

The projects, described below, are firmly rooted in India and based on rigorous field research on the ground.




Prototyping Wearable Robotics for Physical Disability

Faculty: Conor Walsh (Harvard)

The development of a series of consumer-oriented, affordable, wearable devices, to address physical disability in India.


Task-shifting, Training and Technology: Validating the 3T model

Faculty: Satchit Balsari (Harvard)

This project will prototype the 3T model for primary healthcare delivery, through the use of mobile and digital health technologies.


Project Prakash

Faculty: Pawan Sinha (MIT)

Treatment for curably blind children, illuminating fundamental questions regarding the brain and learning.


Low-cost Toilets in India

Faculty: Rahul Mehrotra (Harvard)

An examination of the issue of public sanitation in Mumbai, with a special focus on community toilets in the city’s slums and informal settlements.


Unpacking Prevention: Community-level Strategies to Build Child Protection and Rights in India

Faculty: Jacqueline Bhabha (Harvard)

Field research in West Bengal, Bihar and Telangana.


Deflouridation Water Filters

Faculty: Ashok Gadgil (University of Berkeley, California)

India has over 66 million people facing risk of developing fluorosis and it is also home to the 5th largest bauxite deposit (3037 million tonnes). This study systematically investigates the factors governing performance of diversely-sourced bauxite ores.


Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition:

Faculty: Chris Duggan (Harvard)

The SAI team would act as the platform on which entrepreneurs in the nutrition and food industry could come together and learn from global experts in the field to design and fund new industries and/or new commercial products that are well designed for mother and children.


Cook Stoves

Faculty: Ashok Gadgil (University of Berkeley, California)

Berkeley has stove designs that reduce fuel consumption per meal by 50%, cost US$20, and produce 50% less smoke than a traditional biomass fire.


Partition Stories: Collection and Analysis of Oral Narratives

This project is a part of a larger research study called, Looking Back, Informing the Future – The 1947 Partition of British India.

Goals of the Partition Stories Project:

  • Preserve and enrich the historical knowledge of Partition in crowd proportions,
  • Discover the different yet merging perspectives of the largest migration in history,
  • Analyze the past and prevailing rhetoric surrounding the Partition,
  • Provide free access to the stories through the Harvard SAI Partition portal.

The project is being co-led by Karim Lakhani, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Tarun Khanna, Director of the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

The three month pilot phase included a collection of 350 stories from the sub-continent and United States. The preliminary analysis can be viewed in Professor Khanna’s presentation at the World Economic Forum in China, this summer.

The project hopes to contribute to the scholarship around the events that led to the largest involuntary migration in recent history. In addition, it will inform scholarship about, and policies related to, other such societal schisms, subsequent to that time, and those occurring today.

We aim to collect stories, reflections, memories, or experiences through crowdsourcing as well as through an online survey.

You can share your story here.

Crossroads Summer Program 2017

Fifty driven, accomplished students from eleven countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East formed the inaugural cohort of the Harvard South Asia Institute’s Crossroads Summer Program. They are all first-generation college students – the first in their families to participate in higher education, many from challenging financial circumstances – and came together in the heat of Dubai from August 11-14, 2017.

The successful cohort was an even balance of male and female students, from diverse backgrounds. There was, for example, a young woman from Quetta, a city in Pakistan with the country’s lowest female literacy rate. Another student had worked as a garbage collector to pay his school fees.

These young people face challenges that are far beyond the experience of most Harvard students; their success fulfilled one of the main goals of the program. And as the video below shows, they also managed to have a little fun along the way.

Leading scholars from Harvard led the key sessions:

  • Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the South Asia Institute at Harvard University.
  • Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative.
  • Kristin E. Fabbe is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit.

This unique program was a collaboration between the Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Dubai International Financial Centre, with the support of Air Arabia, the Carlton Hotel, Dubai Future Accelerators, and Emirates Grand Hotel. It offered a fully-funded career development opportunity and introduction to top-level American university culture for students who might otherwise have their ambitions curtailed by circumstances beyond their control; with their dedication and conduct, these students showed very clearly the value of such opportunities.









American Council for Southern Asian Art Symposium XVIII

ACSAA Symposium web banner

October 12 – October 15, 2017

Harvard South Asia Institute is proud to co-sponsor the biennial American Council for Southern Asian Art Symposium. ACSAA symposia serve as opportunities to meet colleagues, reconnect with mentors and graduate school cohorts, and share one’s current research with the field. From senior scholars to graduate students, ACSAA symposia are one of the primary ways ACSAA members gather and support one another, share ideas with a group of like-minded colleagues, and participate in the ACSAA community. We are looking forward to welcoming you all in Boston/Cambridge, MA!

ACSAA 2017 Organizers

Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art & Architecture
Laura Weinstein, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

About the ACSAA

The American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the study and awareness of the art of South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayan regions. In addition to periodic symposia, usually held every two years, ACSAA pursues these goals through various projects, including its annual bulletin, bibliographies, a color slide project, a microfiche archive and outreach materials. Since its incorporation in 1967, ACSAA has grown from its original fifteen members to an organization of some three hundred individuals and institutions. ACSAA is formally affiliated with the College Art Association (CAA) and the Association of Asian Studies (AAS).


For more information about this conference, please visit our website:

2017 SAI Symposium: Arts Panel [VIDEO]

Our fantastic arts panel at the 2017 Symposium featured:

Shahzia Sikander: A Pakistani-born visual artist – trained in Pakistan and New England – who challenges the strict formal tropes of miniature painting as well as its medium-based restrictions by experimenting with scale and media. She received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 2006.

Shanay Javeri: Assistant Curator of South Asian Art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is a graduate of Brown University, where he studied art semiotics and history of art. He completed his doctorate at the Royal College of Art in London, specializing in South Asian art.

Homi Bhabha: Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University.

“The Social Texture of an Artist” – reflections on the 2017 SAI Mahindra Lecture

By Rajna Swaminathan, PhD candidate, Department of Music, Harvard University

In his Mahindra Lecture earlier this month, vocalist T.M. Krishna presented his philosophy on the possibilities for art to break through social habits and boundaries. Drawing on his experience as a person from a privileged background and rising to fame in the Carnatic music scene, Krishna illustrated the ways in which music led him from the personal to the public and political, advocating a spirit of questioning that is uncommon to most classical art forms. Focusing on aesthetics as a site of precipitation for the social, Krishna led those of us who identify as artists to ask: Are we really being creative? Or do we take creativity for granted, conditioning our minds along certain paths, and being very comfortable through all of it?


(L-R) Homi Bhabha, Rajna Swaminathan, TM Krishna, Vijay Iyer

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