The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute’s Annual Symposium takes place on May 4, 2018, in the heart of the Harvard campus. It is the most important event on our calendar. We gather key collaborators, South Asia-focused experts and an informed, engaged audience to discuss progress in areas of study that have significant practical implications across the region. This year’s theme is “Knowledge Translation: Across Disciplines, Geographies, and From Research to Action”. The event is free and open to the public.
In his annual letter, Tarun Khanna, Director of The Mittal Institute, Harvard University, and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, assesses an important 12 month period for the institute.
It’s been a pivotal year for the Institute. The transformational support from Indian industrialist Mr. Lakshmi Mittal and his family ensures that South Asia remains an education and research priority at Harvard. The $25m naming endowment builds on the foundation established by the University and our Advisory Council. The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (The Mittal Institute) at Harvard University enters a new era of being a catalyst for interdisciplinary, Harvard-wide initiatives across South Asia.
February marked the official opening of the Mittal Institute’s India office in Delhi through Harvard Global Research Support Centre India, an important milestone for the University. It provides a substantive platform for launching new research and academic exchanges with important regional stakeholders and with Harvard faculty and students.
Last summer, the Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program was one of the best teaching experiences I have had at Harvard. 50 highly-talented students – the first in their families to attend college – from eleven countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East gathered in Dubai, following an extremely competitive application process. These students have had to overcome challenging economic, social, and cultural circumstances to pursue higher education in their country. We were able to provide them a fully-funded opportunity to learn and engage in critical thinking, of the kind that is available at the best institutions in the world. They, in turn, brought an exceptionally high level of energy and intellectual curiosity. This year, the Mittal Institute and Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council have collaborated again, expanding the program to admit up to 120 students who will be taught by faculty from multiple schools at Harvard.
The Mittal Institute prides itself on the diversity and depth of its work, across the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, with projects and programs that connect a wide range of intellectual resources. Our progress over the years validates our platform approach to growth, making it feasible for all kinds of scholars to work with us.
Our programs in the Arts and Sciences made great strides in 2017/18. The Arts Program expanded significantly, with four visiting artists from across South Asia spending two months at Harvard, connecting their important work to the university and other key institutions in the New England region. Our Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings (B4) Program has also lived up to its potential, with top young Indian scientists doing groundbreaking work in Harvard’s laboratories. We have welcomed excellent scholars from Pakistan, as Aman and Babar Ali Fellows; our Nepal Studies Program is entering its third year; and we are assiduously building on new relationships with civil society and universities in Bangladesh.
On a personal note, I have the honor of leading this organization for the next three years, having accepted an offer to continue as Director. Alongside the indefatigable Meena Hewett, Executive Director, and the rest of the team, I am excited by the possibilities that lie ahead at the Mittal Institute. I invite you to continue to follow our progress and find opportunities to contribute to the work we do in what will surely be another fascinating year ahead.