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2013 Symposium Resources

2013 Symposium Resources Picture

2013 Symposium Resources Text

Stigma and labour: remembering Dalit Marxism

Authored by Anupama Rao, 2012

An Animated Life, The Smart CEO Magazine

Posted by Mahathi R. Arjun, July 15, 2011

From Amar Chitra Katha to Karadi Tales, ACK Media chief-executive Samir Patil’s love for technology makes sure his company is at the forefront in driving quality children’s content for new and emerging media. Much of Samir Patil’s business takes place over the phone. Even before he reaches his office at nine in the morning, he would have already attended several calls. As co-founder and chief-executive officer of Mumbai-based ACK Media Pvt. Ltd., Patil admits he is addicted to his Blackberry. “I’ve been using it for the past 10 years now – I’m always signed into my email account,” he says.

The State of Indian Social History, Journal of Social History
Authored by Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College, 2003

“Indian social history appears to be in decline. Although fine work in the field has been published in recent years, the cutting edge of scholarship on the Indian past has moved elsewhere, particularly into the domains of cultural and intellectual life. The signs of decline are particularly acute in North America, where social historical questions have been largely given up for investigations of colonial discourse, representations of colonialism or nationalism, and even philosophy and social theory,” Parthasarathi states.

Managing linguistic nationalism through constitutional design: Lessons from South Asia
Authored by Sujit Choudhry, NYC School of Law, 2009

How should constitutional design respond to competing claims for official language status in countries where there is more than one language, whose speakers are concentrated in a specific territory, and hence, where more than one language is a plausible candidate for use in public services, public education, legislatures, the courts, and public administration? This is one of the most pervasive and pressing constitutional problems of modern political life.

Madhav Khosla: Recognizing caste and religion entrenches these further, The Times of India

Conversation with Srijana Mitra Das, December 19, 2012

“It’s interesting to see the contest over what forms of western constitutionalism were embraced – why [India] chose parliamentarianism versus presidentialism, a strong judiciary, not a weak one, a Bill of Rights when the UK doesn’t have one. The end product, an amalgamation of many western ideas, ends up being unique. For key figures like Ambedkar and Nehru, this product is the route to modernity, bringing the ideals of democracy to India,” Khosla says.

Constitutionalism in Divided Societies, International Journal of Constitutional Law

Authored by Sujit Choudhry, NYU School of Law, 2007

“In a divided society, given a history of conflict or conspicuous lack of shared existence, the constitution is often the principal vehicle for arriving at a common political identity, which, in turn, is necessary to make a constitutional regime work. Although comparative experience must figure centrally in constitutional politics, particularly when it comes to framing constitutional settlements, comparative constitutional law as a scholarly discipline has largely been missing in action, with some distinguished exceptions,” states Choudhry.

How to do Comparative Constitutional Law in India? Naz Foundation, Same Sex Rights, and Dialogical Interpretation

Authored by Sujit Choudhry, in Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia

Can India Overtake China?, Foreign Policy

Authored by Tarun Khanna and Yasheng Huang, July 1, 2003

“India has not attracted anywhere near the amount of FDI that China has. In part, this disparity reflects the confidence international investors have in China’s prospects and their skepticism about India’s commitment to free-market reforms. But the FDI gap is also a tale of two diasporas. China has a large and wealthy diaspora that has long been eager to help the motherland, and its money has been warmly received. By contrast, the Indian diaspora was, at least until recently, resented for its success and much less willing to invest back home. New Delhi took a dim view of Indians who had gone abroad, and of foreign investment generally, and instead provided a more nurturing environment for domestic entrepreneurs,” say Khanna and Huang.

Dynamics of Mobilization: Varied Trajectories of Dalit, Indigenous Nationalities, and Madhesi Movements

Authored by Mahendra Lawoti in Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in Nepal: Identities and Mobilization after 1990

“The pathway towards extensive mobilization in Nepal has been identity formation and previous ethno-political actions, particularly a lengthy, relatively cohesive and independent political movement…A common identity is necessary to mobilize groups because it is easier to mobilize people who identify as members of a community and recognize common problems. The higher the strength of group identity, the easier it becomes for political activists to mobilize their groups. Cultural differentials with the dominant group, higher literate population, deeper and wider degree of group discrimination, history of autonomy and territorial concentration, negative state attitude and favorable international context tend to contribute to stronger formation of group identities.”

Violence and Humanity: Or, Vulnerability as Political Subjectivity

Authored by Anupama Rao, 2012

Evolution of Growth and the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal

Authored by Mahendra Lawoti in The Maoist Insurgency in Nepal: Revolution in the Twenty-First Century

“The growth of the insurgency in Nepal…raises many interesting questions. How did a violent Maoist movement grow and succeed in the post-Cold War adverse global environment? Why did a party that had participated in a democratic election launch a violent movement and receive significant support? Why did people support the rebellion when economic and development indicators were showing improvements? Does the success of the Maoists in Nepal indicate radical resurgence of communism globally?”

Exclusionary Democratization in Nepal, 1990-2002

Authored by Mahendra Lawoti in Democratization, 15(2), 2008

“Is political exclusion a short-term phenomenon? Will democracies eventually correct this problem in due course? First, the Nepali and New Zealand cases show that exclusion may not be a short-term phenomenon, especially if majoritarian institutions have been adopted. Second, even if we assume that procedural majoritarian democracies have the capacity to eventually address the problem, it may be too late. Democracies may destabilize, as in Nepal, and or violent ethnic conflicts and civil wars may ensue, as evidenced in many culturally divided societies.”


Multidisciplinary Research Projects

Mapping the Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious fair that occurs every 12 years at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers on the plains of northern India.  Today it draws tens of millions of pilgrims over the course of a few weeks to bathe in the sacred rivers. Harvard faculty and students from the Faculty of Arts and Science, Divinity School, Design School, Business School and the School of Public Health, traveled to Allahabad to study this “pop-up mega-city.”

More about this project.

Social Sciences


Adolescent Agency and Overcoming Gender Violence

Overcoming vulnerability and exploitation are the biggest obstacles to a girl’s social agency in South Asia. Researchers have extensively studied the obstacles preventing disadvantaged girls from accessing secondary and college education.  An opposite approach that looks at how underprivileged girls have managed to successfully complete high school and move on to higher education. What other contextual factors contributed?  How did they become “positive deviants”? Understanding education success is central to realizing gender equality, securing employment, and reducing early marriage, teen pregnancy and domestic violence.

Faculty Directors: Jacqueline Bhabha (Harvard School of Public Health), Akshay Mangla (Harvard Business School), Diane Rosenfeld (Harvard Law School).
In region partners: Poonam Muttreja (Population Foundation of India), Maninder Kaur (Ministry of Human Resource Development, India.), Shanta Sinha (University of Hyderabad), Tanya D’Lima (World Bank), Nandita Batla (International Center for Research on Women).

More about this project.


Indian marketFormal and Informal Businesses in India: Data, Linkages, and Regulations

To promote inclusive growth in India, there is a need to get a better understanding of the composition of businesses, how they operate, what constraints they face. The goal of the proposed project is to generate a better understanding of  a) the size, location and characteristics of businesses in India, both formal and informal, over time based on the last few rounds of the labour force and economic census data; b) the diversity of production relations within and between firms (employer, own-account, contracting and sub-contracting, regular and casual wage labour) through both a literature review and data analysis;  c) the linkages between formal and informal businesses through a literature review; d) which regulations help or hinder informal enterprises through a literature review; and e) modes of capital accumulation and patterns of technological change across industry sectors through a literature review.

Faculty Directors: Martha Chen (HKS) and Richard Freeman (FAS and National Bureau of Economic Research)
Partners: Amit Basole (UMass/Boston), Deepankar Basu (University of Massachusetts/Amherst), G. Raveendran (retired, Government of India), Joann Vanek (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing).


Primary Care DeliveryPrimary Care Delivery

Primary care services are a key means to reducing the disease burden and improving equity, as well as controlling the high financial burden on households arising from an unregulated market. Primary care services depend on a defined package of health promotion, prevention, and treatment initiatives that involve individuals and communities linking with health workers and health facilities. This project will look at opportunities in both urban and rural South Asia for private programs to develop high-quality, low-cost primary care service delivery to meet the demand of lower- and middle-income consumers for a trustworthy service.

Faculty Directors: Peter Berman (Harvard School of Public Health)
Regional partners: Afsana Kaosar (BRAC), Aamir Khan (Indus Hospital, Pakistan), Nachiket Mor (Health Management  and Research Institute, India.)


Looking Back, Informing the Future: The 1947 Partition of British India- Implications of Mass Dislocations Across Geographies

Despite abundant historical and political scholarship on Partition, and despite a growing literature of personal reflection and fiction, very little had been done, even after 67 years to search the extensive archival records of British India and the three countries that evolved from Partition to specify what actually happened to the millions who chose to or were forced to move to another country in a very short period of time. The ambition of the Partition Project is to develop a rich and empirically grounded understanding of Partition from this perspective: how many people chose to or were forced to move; where did they leave from and where did they go; how many people died and where; how many people suffered and where; and what efforts were made by government and civil society to mobilize relief and mitigate these severe consequences?

Faculty Director: Jennifer Leaning (Harvard School of Public Health, FXB Center, Harvard Medical School)
In Region Partners: Swaleha Shahzada Citizens Archives of Pakistan; Aman Foundation, Pakistan.





King Lear by Pablo BartholomewSouth Asian Arts at SAI

The 2008 Report of the Task Force on the Arts called for Harvard to make arts “an integral part of the cognitive life of the University.” SAI Arts Initiative serves as a resource for students and faculty across all disciplines to explore critical issues of South Asia through the lens of art and design. This program supports mid-career museum directors, curators, museology students, and artists with the aim of developing under-served museums into robust institutions, hosting South Asian museology students for independent studies, and showcasing emerging South Asian artists. Arts at SAI sets out to provide expertise to curatorial and conservation professionals, offer Harvard’s state-of-the-art research facilities to doctoral museology students, and give emerging South Asian artists a prestigious platform to exhibit and discuss their work.

Faculty Directors: Jinah Kim and Doris Sommers (FAS)
Partners: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, HBS, Harvard Extension School, Harvard Museums, GSD

More about this project.


Bombay CityThe Contemporary South Asian City

Rapid economic growth is resulting in the transformation of the urban city in South Asia. The prominent role that cities in South Asia like Colombo, Dhaka, Karachi, Delhi, and Mumbai will play in the world arena merits a deeper look into understanding the contemporary South Asian city. The research would include day long workshops in the six cities, followed by a synthetic seminar at Harvard to explore the potential research projects that might emerge from these workshops. The findings from the workshops could be developed into a semester long studio taught at Harvard. The themes would include issues of affordable housing, conservation, public space, urban infrastructure and sanitation.

Faculty Director: Rahul Mehrotra (Graduate School of Design) and Justin Stern (PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Design)
Partners: Arif Hassan, Karachi, Fuad Mallick, BRAC, Bangladesh, Jagath Munasinghe, Colombo, Sri Lanka

More about this project.


Literacy about Religion in Contemporary South Asian Issues

An executive education program focused on enhancing religious literacy for professionals in public policy, media, and education. Participants will learn a method for understanding the complex roles that religions play in contemporary political and cultural affairs; discover how this method functions in specific professional sectors (e.g., business, journalism, international relations, public health, etc.); and learn about the application of this method through case studies located in specific contemporary contexts relevant to the participants.

Faculty Directors: Ali Asani (Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences) and Diane Moore (Harvard Divinity School).


Urban South AsiaUrban India Atlas

The project will help develop a new taxonomy for Tier-II (average population of 1.9M) and Tier-III cities (population size, between 100,000 and 1M) which are currently advancing disciplined and rigorous development plans, and will emerge as specialist centers of industries such as IT, manufacturing, or tourism and cultural heritage. Six cities have been selected, and regional partners in each city are being cultivated: Jamshedpur (Industrial Town), Erode (Market Town), Tirupati (Religious Town), Mhow (Cantonment Town), Agra (Heritage Town), Panjim (State Capital). Outputs will include a literature review on urbanism in South Asia, roundtable meetings with country partners, a two-day symposium on specific cities, seminars and studios offered through the GSD, and a series of publications pertaining to each city.

Faculty Director: Rahul Mehrotra (Graduate School of Design) and Justin Stern (PhD Candidate, Graduate School of Design)
Partners: World Monument Fund, Aga Khan Foundation.