The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire globe, requiring quick action from governments and the populace to stem the flow of transmission. With many in quarantine or lockdown, the pandemic has changed the daily way of life for many around the world. This week, we spoke with members of the Mittal Institute team in India, Nepal, and Pakistan to get a firsthand look into the situation on the ground in South Asia, from recent governmental guidance and regulations to the response of the population and how it will impact society.
Category : In Region
Led by Caroline Buckee (Center for Communicable Disease, Harvard T.H. Chan), Satchit Balsari (HMS and HSPH), and Andrew Schroeder (Direct Relief), the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network aims to “provide daily updates to decision-makers at the state and local levels on how well social distancing interventions are working.” The team is made up of a network of infectious disease epidemiologists located at universities around the world.
Numair Abbasi, a mixed media artist from Pakistan, recently joined the Mittal Institute in the latest group of Visiting Artist Fellows. Numair’s practice draws on popular culture, anecdotes, and colloquialisms to stage personal and social narratives in attempts to challenge the politics behind how gender is socially constructed and performed.
Last week, Muhammad Musa, Executive Director of BRAC International, visited the Mittal Institute to speak with Tarun Khanna, Director of the Mittal Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School. Together, they uncovered the effort it takes for BRAC to continue expanding on its role as the world’s largest NGO.
For my dissertation project, I hope to trace the stories of Tamil drama artists, as they traveled, performed, and lived between 20th century Madras Presidency, Ceylon, and British Malaya. This winter, I went on a research trip to Madurai and Chennai, Tamil Nadu, to understand the infrastructures that supported these artists’ travels, as well as the kinds of performances they held abroad.
The Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program began in 2017, a joint effort between the Harvard Business School Club of the GCC, HBS Professors Tarun Khanna and Karim Lakhani, and the Mittal Institute. This year, the Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program received 6,093 total applications from 97 countries spanning the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, South Asia, and US students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
The India Digital Health Network (IDHN) is a research and policy collaborative focused on the development of a patient-centric and provider-friendly health data exchange ecosystem in India. Recently, the IDHN team submitted comments to a Joint Committee of the India Parliament on the 2019 Personal Data Protection Bill, which aims to protect the personal data of individuals throughout India. To learn more, we spoke with Nivedita Saksena about her role as the first IDHN Policy Fellow and the accomplishments, goals, and future of IDHN in India.
With the support of the Winter Travel Grant, I traveled through Bangladesh for over 30 days during December 2019 and January 2020. I was accompanied by my research partner, John David Wagner, an Irving Innovation Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. During our trip, we carried out extensive field research in Bangladesh to inquire if the very nature of the spatial quality of refugee camps contributes to keeping the inhabitants of these urban dwellings marginalized for many generations.
Fatima Zahra, Research Affiliate at the Mittal Institute and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University, has been working to design and implement socially responsible programs to address the loss of human potential and enhance life outcomes among the most marginalized. Recently, she was in Bangladesh for about three months to work at the Rohingya refugee camps and uncover ways to improve the mental and fiscal wellbeing of the refugees who live there.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump traveled to India for two days. In an exclusive broadcast from Harvard Business School, the India Today News Director Rahul Kanwal discussed the potential impact of Trump’s visit to India in terms of trade, economy, and electoral politics. He was joined by Professor Tarun Khanna (Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the Mittal Institute), Punita Kumar Sinha (Founder, Pacific Paradigm Advisors), Ashutosh Varshney (Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University), and Vipin Narang (Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT).
Over the last three weeks of my winter vacation, I traveled to Hindu temples throughout South India, with the goal of understanding the inspirations and motivations that drove musicians to compose about the idols worshipped at these establishments. Starting from the Eastern temple city of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, I snaked along the Eastern coast of the Indian peninsula, ultimately arriving to the country’s southern tip at Kanyakumari, before continuing through the hill stations of Kerala and ending at Guruvayur, Kerala.
In 2019, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition awarded the Gramhal team, composed of members Vikas Birhma and Pankaj Mahalle, first place. Over the past year, the funding from the competition has helped take their social enterprise initiative off the ground, and Gramhal has already had a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers in India. In the last few months of 2019, over 50 farmers sold their produce — worth USD 100,000 — through Gramhal, receiving a fair and higher price.