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Read below to learn about the research projects SAI will be funding as winter session grants this year.


Tyler Arnot – The Estate Tamils of Sri Lanka

M.Ed. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education

In a broad sense, the post-disaster conditions in Sri Lanka provide an important opportunity to study the way a nation-state and its international partners approach education in emergency. Specifically, the ethnic minority Estate Tamils provide a crucial lens through which to view marginalized and vulnerable populations in cases of emergency. Living in predominantly rural areas of Sri Lanka and typically regarded as a labor population, the Estate Tamils face systemic obstacles to education.

The research I will be conducting includes four months of preliminary research already begun at Harvard University. The baseline information compiled at Harvard will help shape and make efficient the three weeks of field work to be conducted amongst the Estate Tamils in Sri Lanka. The results of this study will be valuable in creating policy recommendations for marginalized groups in emergency situations not only in the Sri Lankan context, but globally.

A formal deliverable will be created for the Educate Lanka Foundation. Educate Lanka already delivers valuable educational support to underserved children in Sri Lanka but does not yet serve the Estate Tamil population to who they are interested in expanding their services. To make expansion to the Estate Tamil’s feasible, the study will be critical in identifying cultural, economic and legal barriers to education that may have been perpetuated by the war. The project will also begin to identify change agents within the education sector of Sri Lanka and to determine whether the removal of simple economic restrictions would lead to improvements in access and/or quality.

Corrina Mouche – Reducing Maternal Mortality in Nepal: Identifying Effective Interventions

Sc.D. Candidate, Harvard School of Public Health

Most maternal mortality is avoidable, yet half a million women worldwide die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth—nearly all in poor countries. Experts agree that a strong health system is essential to improving maternal outcomes. But the existing resource allocation models to advise policy choices do not robustly account for health system characteristics, so they may misadvise on the most effective mechanisms for reducing maternal mortality. I am working with researchers at the Center for Health Decision Science on a new model that incorporates health system characteristics, and I am implementing it for analysis in Nepal. The Nepalese government is working to meet international commitments for maternal health, like the Millennium Development Goals, so there is much interest in evidence-based policymaking to achieve further reductions.

Neil Padukon, Mass Transit in Mumbai: Mumbai Metro

MDA Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School

Description forthcoming.

Viroopa Volla, Thesis Research on Developmental Economics and Emerging Markets

Economics Concentrator, Harvard College ’14

This winter, I plan to conduct senior thesis research in urban and rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. My research aims to focus on land prices fluctuations in India over time, specifically how policies from the Indian government have affected prices after India’s independence. There has been a large influx of foreign capital into India’s housing and land investments and one of my hypotheses is that foreign capital has caused land prices to rise much more than other factors that go into calculating standard of living. In addition, the hypothesis also includes testing the difference between increases in land prices in urban areas versus rural areas. I will also be interviewing the Sora Tribe in Southern Orissa as part of another project. I am currently taking, “Religious Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict and State Terror in Modern India: Cases from Kashmir, Panjab, Gujarat and Nagaland” in the South Asian Studies Department and am writing a research paper on Naxalite-Maoist conflicts in Eastern India. The class looks at the conflicts through a historical lens, but I wish to expand my research further by looking at it through an economic perspective, focusing on tribal property rights and how their economic status in India is affected by their effective property rights.