CGIS Knafel, K050
1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA
CGIS Knafel, K050
Navtej Sarna, Indian Ambassador to the US
Chair: Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, South Asia Institute
Ambassador Sarna took charge as Ambassador of India to the United States on November 5, 2016. He has been a Member of the Indian Foreign Service since 1980.
He was previously posted in London as High Commissioner, and before moving to London, Mr Sarna was Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs. Mr Sarna was among the longest-serving spokespersons of the ministry between 2002 and 2008. He has also had postings in Moscow, Warsaw, Tehran, Geneva and Thimphu. Mr Sarna is also a prolific author of many fiction and non-fiction books, recently ‘Second Thoughts: On Books, Authors and the Writerly Life’ that was released last year.
Reception to follow.
Please note: This event will be off the record (Chatham House Rules).
Science and Technology Seminar
Anshuman Lath, Co-Founder, Gram Oorja
Chair: Ignacio Perez-Arriaga, Visiting professor, MIT; Professor and Director of the BP Chair on Sustainable Development, Comillas University
Gram Oorja Solutions Private Limited (www.gramoorja.in), founded in 2007, has worked in over 120 remote villages of India, providing electricity, drinking water and cooking fuel to tribal communities. A key feature of the work has been the sustainability of these projects, with local communities taking over the management, tariff collection duties and ownership of these projects. Anshuman, a co-founder of the company, will share his experiences with the company.
Social Enterprise Seminar
Merrill Fernando, Founder and chairperson, Dilmah
Chair: VG Narayanan, Thomas D. Casserly, Jr. Professor of Business Administration; Chair, MBA Elective Curriculum, Harvard Business School
Merrill Fernando is the founder and chairperson of Sri Lanka’s largest and most global tea brand, Dilmah.
Fernando joined the tea industry in Sri Lanka in the 1950s. Early in his journey, he observed that Sri Lankan tea, a finished product that was hand picked, produced according to a traditional and artistic process in Sri Lanka, was treated as a raw material and shipped at nominal value to Europe where value addition, branding and packing took place. As a result, producers of Sri Lankan tea received a tiny fraction of the profits from the sale of their tea, while large corporations benefited disproportionately.
Fernando has dedicated his career to addressing this inequity. His story is a remarkable one for it illustrates the exploitation that often characterizes products and commodities that are dominated by big corporations. It also demonstrates the power of fair and just trade in lifting less developed countries out of poverty.
Fernando’s love for tea led him to innovate in very important areas. He established the Dilmah brand in 1988 which became the first producer owned tea brand. Dilmah was not just another brand of tea; but it was a brand that was founded on a passionate commitment to quality and authenticity in tea. Dilmah was also part of a philosophy that went beyond commerce in seeing business as a matter of human service. Fernando also pioneered the concept of single origin tea and packaging tea garden fresh, at source. These initiatives pitched Fernando directly against corporations many times the size of his tiny and fledgling business, and it also brought him into conflict with his peers and the Sri Lankan government who did not share his belief that tea could be picked and shipped direct from origin by growers themselves.
In this talk, Merrill Fernando will share his journey in the tea industry and discuss how he built a global brand.
Milan Rai, Visiting Artist, South Asia Institute Art Program
Chair: Jinah Kim, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Rai’s White Butterfly project was a personal art installation that has grown with a global outreach for different community causes and concerns. It is a demonstration of how the role of art can take different turns when shared across social media, connecting people and communities to effect social change and awareness. From Scotland to Greece to New York to Africa over the past two years, many connections around the world have been established.
Those connections became an unexpected source of support and real change in rapid response to the earthquake disasters in Nepal this year, initiating funding projects for immediate relief to provide sanitation facilities, toilets rebuilding a school and relocating an entire village. In this talk, Rai will introduce The White Butterfly project to the faculty and students at Harvard in the form of a retrospective photographic exhibition, including an interactive presentation.
Rai’s work will be on display starting April 11 in the follow locations: SAI office on the 4th floor CGIS South, CGIS South lobby (1730 Cambridge Street), and CGIS Knafel Lobby (1737 Cambridge Street).