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News Category: In Region


Harvard-BRAC Research Partnership Launches


Alongside our partners – the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and BRAC –  we are supporting an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Harvard and Bangladesh, who are examining a range of issues facing vulnerable populations in and around South Asia. This partnership provides a platform for collaborative participatory research driven by regional needs. Current projects are focused on the Rohingya forced migration crisis, encompassing a wide range of topics, including outbreak surveillance modeling, social network analysis, economic integration, resettlement policies, public health impact, and others.

Visit the Harvard-BRAC Research Partnership website for more information.

Mittal Institute Director Discusses Latest Book in Bengaluru


Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, and Director of The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, was in Bengaluru for a fireside chat about his new book. He was joined by Manish Sabharwal, o-founder and Executive Chairman, TeamLease for this conversation. This event was organised by the Harvard Business School India Research Centre and the HBS Club of India, in collaboration with TiE Bangalore and The Mittal Institute. The event was sponsored by the Brigade Group.

In his new book, ‘TRUST – Creating the Foundations of Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries’, Khanna looks at case studies, including the case of contaminated milk in China, the Alibaba success story, a non-profit in Bangladesh, as well as microfinance firms in Mexico, Peru, India and Indonesia. “If one needs to scale up, then one of the components needed is trust” he says. Talking about his previous book, he said: “I study entrepreneurship in developing countries. Close to 6-7 million people are eliminated from the mainstream. My idea was to get them connected to the mainstream. That was my thought behind writing my earlier book ‘Billions of Entrepreneurs’ a decade ago.”

Khanna and Sabharwal discussed many aspects of entrepreneurship, from altering mindsets to working in collaboration with the government, data versus building trust, and a comparison between the role of the state in India and China. The conversation was also opened out to the audience who shared comments and questions focused on scalability of entrepreneurial ventures, credibility of businesses, and the timeline for entrepreneurs in a developing country as compared to those in developed nations. 

Tarun Khanna (left) and Manish Sabharwal (right) at the fireside chat event in Bengaluru. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US-Kerala Flood Relief Donation


The recent floods that hit Kerala have been the worst floods the State has faced since 1924. Many places in the state are neck-deep in water, massive landslides have laid waste to roads, houses and other infrastructure, thousands of hectares of crops are ruined and hundreds of people have lost their lives.

The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University and the American India Foundation are encouraging monetary donations from those residing in the US. Please donate through this link – www.aif.org/keralafund

Unspoken Story – A Conversation About Mental Health


As part of the India seminar series, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University partnered with Sangath and It’s Okay to Talk for an event titled ‘Unspoken Story’. The event was a conversation between Vikram Patel, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School and two young women on their personal journey and experiences with mental health. This event was supported by Welcome Trust and the American Centre, and is also in partnership with Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), USA.

The two discussants – Ishita Mehra, artist and mental health advocate, and Ishita Chaudhry, Ashoka and INK fellow, and founder and managing trustee of the YP foundation, shared their personal stories, and the journey they took from understanding their own mental health needs to breaking stigmas and seeking help. They shared their experiences with bullying and body shaming as teenagers, the lack of resources at the institutional level and the importance of family support. The conversation further branched out to socio-emotional learning, the importance of talking about mental health and treating it with the same respect as physical health. One of the guests at the event, Dr. Preetha Rajaraman, HHS Health Attaché, – “U.S.- India Bilateral Partnership on Mental Health” also shared her perspective from the context of the opioid crisis in the U.S., among other mental health challenges.

Audience members asked questions about finding the right resources on the internet; politics and its role in mental health; ideas like using kindness campaigns instead of anti-bullying ones to promote cultures of empathy. The evening concluded with remarks by Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (MSD), World Health Organisation (WHO), who re-emphasized the importance of the mental health conversation in the public health domain. He also shared two WHO resources on depression and mental health (links can be found below).

Such discussions we hope will bring not only a broader understanding of depression and mental health – how one can diagnose it and how to seek help; but also start conversations around the role of societies and education, how we can support and equip our institutions and define a clear vision for a mental health across India, South Asia and the world.

Two resources shared at the event:

  1. Let’s Talk (WHO) – http://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-03-2017–depression-let-s-talk-says-who-as-depression-tops-list-of-causes-of-ill-health
  2. I had a black dog, his name was depression – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiCrniLQGYc

Vikram Patel (right) in conversation with Ishita Mehra (centre) and Ishita Chaudhry at the Unspoken Story event hosted in New Delhi. (Photograph credit: Mohit Kapil)

Kerala Relief Collection Drive in New Delhi


The recent floods that hit Kerala have been the worst floods the State has faced since 1924. Many places in the state are neck-deep in water, massive landslides have laid waste to roads, houses and other infrastructure, thousands of hectares of crops are ruined, and hundreds of people have lost their lives.

The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University and the Harvard Club of India have come together to organize a collection drive for those affected by the floods. We are setting up various collection points around Delhi and urge citizens to donate items in kind.

The poster has examples of goods we are collecting. We will then give them to the Kerala House in Delhi to be sent out to relief camps in Kerala. We request you to donate generously for those affected by this calamity. No old and used (unless in pristine quality) goods will be accepted.

Note: We are NOT collecting monetary donations. If you would like to donate money, please follow this link to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund – https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/

 

 

Apply Now for the 2019/20 B4 Fellowship


 

The Building Bharat-Boston Biosciences Program (B4) is offering up to eight 18-month fellowships for Indian citizens – currently residing in India – who specialize in a field related to the biosciences. Applicants must have achieved a PhD from an institution in India within the last five years. We may also accept applications from highly-qualified senior doctoral students.

Starting date: January 20, 2019

Duration: 18 months

Stipend: INR 195,000/month for 18 months. Health insurance and round-trip economy travel expenses to and from Boston will also be provided.

Application deadline: September 25, 2018

Click here for more information and application instructions.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises – Cookstove Research and Development in Rural India


 

                                                               Vocational training at Light of Life Trust project site in Karjat, Maharashtra

Sanjay Kumar, India Director of the Mittal Institute, and Saba Kohli Dave, Programs Coordinator of the Mittal Institute travelled with Bharat Thombre, Monitoring and Evaluation at non-profit Light of Life Trust (LOLT), Samantha Hing, Engineering PhD student at UC Berkeley, and an M.Tech student at IIT Bombay, to Karjat and Bhopoliwadi, Maharashtra. The group was going to monitor the usage and cost efficiency of the cookstoves designed at Professor Ashok Gadgil’s Energy and Water Research Lab in Berkeley and gather feedback from the village women regarding the cookstove model. Gadgil’s research received funding from a collaboration between Tata Trusts and the Mittal Institute titled, “Multi-disciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises” Continue reading →

Visiting Artist Profile: Imran Channa


Lik Likoti  Oil on canvas, plywood box, 76x52x8inches, (each box) Imran Channa, 2012, Lahore.

 

Spring 2018 Visiting Artist Imran Channa is a contemporary artist from Pakistan. His art practice interrogates the intersection between power and knowledge. Channa’s primary focus is on the documentation and dissemination of historical narratives and events. He explores how fabricated narratives can override our collective memory to shape individual and social consciousness and alter human responses. 

In this interview, we discuss how he first became interested in installation artwork and the benefits of making art abroad. You can learn more about his work by visiting his website

 

What was your artistic background like?

I started my artistic practice soon after I graduated from The National College of Arts, Lahore in 2004. Then I enrolled again in their MA program and graduated in 2008. Since then, I have been continuously practicing and showing my work nationally and internationally. Besides my art practice, I am an art teacher at the Department of Fine Arts and Visual Arts at National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan. The combination of teaching and practice has led to my approach being more research based.

 

You also do a lot of installation work. When did you start that?

During my studies at The National College of Arts I trained as a painter and as a result I was making a lot of 2D work, but when I presented my work in galleries I always felt that works were detached from their surroundings. I became more interested in the surroundings, in ideas about place, locations and contexts. It became a starting point for me to think about and create installations that were more site specific.

My first installation was Lik Likoti, which means hide and seek. It consisted of large (about 4 x 6ft) oil paintings on canvas, based on historical photographs. I placed each painting inside a loading box and that’s how they were presented. The viewer couldn’t see the whole painting, only a fragment of the painting was visible.  

This type of work elicited a strong reaction from galleries, collectors and audiences. I realized that it is important to question the notions of contemporary art produced and displayed in galleries in Pakistan, because lack of funding and alternative or experimental art spaces means that artists have to rely on commercial success to survive financially. As a result of this, the works that are produced are beholden to the demand of the galleries system. 

When I moved to the Netherlands for the Jan van Eyck Academie fellowship in 2016, I really engaged with my research based practice. I also started to further enjoy and experiment with the challenges of making installations. This has led to me digging and investigating a bit like an archeologist.

 

How did you begin to do your artwork on Partition images?

My work interrogates archives and amplifies the influence of subjectivity by relating historic photographs to the present . I started making work on the images of Partition that I found in Life Magazine. When we seek the visual evidence of this monumental event in history, it’s surprising that we only find a small body of photos, mainly captured by western photographers like Margarete Bourke White. These photos are a visual record of Partition; the tremendous scale of widespread violence, the physical and psychic displacement, all the horrors that Partition produced. I am interested in a lot if things- the endless persistence or presence of images, duration, time and memory.  For me, the photograph is a rectangular form that is disconnected from a flow of time. I believe that an interesting photograph doesn’t belong to any one time, but instead is a confrontation or provocation that invites us to consider the coexistence of multiple times.

 

Do you see yourself also going into other historical events in the future?

I came to Europe because I think it’s very important to travel for long periods of time. By creating a physical and mental distance from your country, you are able to take another look at reality, which you might have otherwise missed because you are so close to it. This experience has broadened the ways in which I approach my practice. I have visited many libraries, museums and collections, and this has shifted my attention to the way we look at images.  Now I am not only collecting and organizing archival material but also collecting and organizing experiences, and trying to present what was previously invisible.

 

The work you do with the Erasure, it’s a very physical act. Could you describe your experience, because you’re creating these very beautiful images that could be sold in a gallery, then you’re erasing it. What is the feeling that you have as you’re erasing these very detailed images?

A memory from my childhood is of erasing. It’s like you are hiding something when you have made a mistake. This has led me to think about collective erasure by societies when dealing with bigger mistakes made historically and how certain power structures need to dissolve, hide or erase historical documents in order to render the mistake forgettable.

I make exact copies of drawings with pencil on paper based on historical documents then deliberately erase them. What is left on the paper are just the traces of drawing. It’s actually a painful process for me as I’m putting a lot of effort in one drawing knowing that inevitably I will just erase it. I have adopted this creative process of destruction as I think it leads to a new kind of inscription. This work talks about both larger and smaller ways in which history is rewritten and how inaccurately or incompletely documented history continues to inflict psychological pain on people, altering modes of living. The process of fabrication is continuously affected by power and ideology, and in a way I become a part of those situations.

 

I know that you’ve been doing some archival research with maps. Do you know what direction it’s going in?

I am still in the process of collecting the materials.  I’ve been focusing on 16th century prints and maps, especially in Europe. I see them as active agents in the creation and dissemination of knowledge in 16th century Europe. I am expanding my focus on photographs and starting to look at images produced before the invention of the camera. My aim is to de-codify the symptoms produced by these objects in different times, cultures and locations.

 

What did you do while you were at Harvard? Could you describe some of your experiences?

I attended many seminars and events to fuel my conceptual and philosophical understanding of art and my own practice. I frequently went to the Astronomy Department at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics because in my practice the concept of time and its complex dimensions feature prominently. They had two evenings – one was a lecture on black holes and the other was an Observatory Night- when they opened their larger telescopes on the roof top for the public to observe and experience the stars and planets differently.

 

Do you have anything else that you would like to share about what’s next for you?

I have a lot of projects I’m working on right now. My studio acts as a poetic laboratory where images reincarnate, survive and sustain different kinds of lives. I aim to bring my interest in chemical sciences into focus. I am very interested in alchemy and the process of transmutation. Currently one of the things I am interested in is the small elements of life- like dust and water, as a container for memories.

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

The Mittal Institute and Art Conservation in India


Narayan Khandekar giving a lecture on color and pigments at CSMVS auditorium

 

As part of our deep commitment to South Asian art, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University partnered with Mumbai’s most important museum, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), to host a two-day event around art and heritage conservation in India.

The Conservation Initiative included lectures by Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, and Narayan Khandekar, Director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies and Senior Conservation Specialist, Harvard Art Museums, followed by a day-long workshop with conservators from all over India.

In his talk on the ‘Art and Science of the Forbes Pigment Collection’, Dr. Khandekar spoke about how pigments in art and artifacts are identified through scientific analysis, which has led to breakthroughs in the understanding of historical paintings and painted surfaces. Professor Jinah Kim explored the intersection between scientific analysis and color representations in ‘Color and Pigments in Indian Painting’. She grounded her discussion of the material, physical, and subjective experience of color in Indian painting by exploring the perception that the Hindu deity Krishna is blue.

 The Conservation Initiative workshop brought together conservators and curators, with a variety of specialisms, to discuss the state of art conservation in India. Academics and practitioners from both public and private institutions participated in a productive discussion on the status of conservation, conservation training and implementation, and how to collaborate in future.

 

Particpants talking about the present state of conservation during one of the 3 smaller group discussions

 

According to Vinod Daniels, Head of Cultural Heritage and Science Initiatives at the Australian Museum, museums and conservation are not a high priority in the country, and conservationists must pick one substantial, sustainable aspect to work on. S. Girikumar, a private practitioner, noted that communication and collaboration between conservators and institutes needs to be better because if an institution does not have labs or resources, there are other institutions that do have the right facilities. Satish Pandey, Associate Professor at the National Museum Institute, also mentioned the lack of communication between scientists, art historians, fine arts experts and conservators. Shikha Jain, Director of Preservation and Community Design at Dronah, emphasized the importance of proper research and needing to build an umbrella agency of conservators and others in the field, through a private-public partnership. The discussions were productive and timely.

The Mittal Institute will continue to collaborate with CSMVS to further the aims of art and heritage conservation in India.