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Bennett Comerford, Mittal Institute Graduate Associate, Studies South Asian Religions

Bennett Comerford, Mittal Institute Graduate Associate, Studies South Asian Religions

Bennett Comerford, a second year Graduate Student Associate with the Mittal Institute, is a doctoral candidate in the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. His work focuses on the intersections of religion, literature, race and coloniality in nineteenth-century Bengal. He is a past recipient of language and research fellowships in Bangladesh and India. The Mittal Institute sat down to learn more about Bennett and his research.

Sahayak: Using Data to Connect Industries with Labor in India’s Rural Regions

Sahayak: Using Data to Connect Industries with Labor in India’s Rural Regions

Each year, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition encourages Harvard students to develop a vibrant ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India and Pakistan. Grant prizes are awarded to interdisciplinary student projects that positively impact societal, economic, and environmental issues in India and Pakistan. One Winter 2020 recipient was “Sahayak,” the brainchild of Ambika Malhortra ’20, Aeshna Prasad ’21, Harvard Graduate School of Design alumnae who both earned a Master of Architecture in Urban Design.

Soft Robotic Toolkit Concludes Pilot; Students Present Designs

Soft Robotic Toolkit Concludes Pilot; Students Present Designs

During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools globally have wrestled with the challenges of delivering hands-on learning projects. Enter the Soft Robotic Toolkit, part of the Mittal Institute’s Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises, supported by Tata Trusts. This program, as detailed in a MI November interview, uses active, hands-on pedagogy to provide cutting edge, high-quality STEM learning. The project provides students with kits, each of which contain the parts and instructions to create a soft robot, teaching students everything from the creation of silicone materials to the assembly of pieces.  

Video: The COVID-19 Crisis in India: Voices from the Frontline

Video: The COVID-19 Crisis in India: Voices from the Frontline

In the second webinar by the Lancet Citizens’ Commission, Srinivasan Jain from NDTV India moderated a timely and important discussion with panelists who have either been directly involved in activities relating to the containment of COVID-19 pandemic or its related care in India over the past few months. The panelists, which included Mirai Chatterjee from SEWA Bharat; Dr Ajay Nair from Swasth Organisation; Sunita Rani, an ASHA Worker; and Dr Priyadarsh from YuMetta Foundation, addressed issues such as COVID-19 preparedness, saving lives, impact on healthcare workers, and protecting mental health.

The Mittal Institute’s 2020-2021 Year in Review

The Mittal Institute’s 2020-2021 Year in Review

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mittal Institute forged ahead, furthering scholarship and partnerships on South Asia’s arts, sciences, humanities, and more. Read more about MI’s latest research and programs in our 2020-2021 Year In Review, now available digitally, by clicking here. For a preview, read the report’s opening “Letter From the Director” by Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and Director of the Mittal Institute.

Contextualizing Evidence-based Recommendations for the Second Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in India

Contextualizing Evidence-based Recommendations for the Second Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in India

Satchit Balsari, Assistant Professor in Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Steering Committee member of the Mittal Institute, co-authored a comment in The Lancet on evidence-based, affordable interventions to manage COVID-19 in India. His co-authors include a range of other medical professionals: Zarir Udwadia, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, P.D. Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Center, Mumbai, India (ZU); Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Breach Candy Hospitals & Research Centers, Mumbai, India; Ahmed Shaikh, Department of Emergency Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY, USA; Abdul Ghafur, Department of Infectious Diseases, Apollo Cancer Hospital, Chennai, India; and Sushila Kataria, Department of Internal Medicine, Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon, India.

Visiting Artist Fellowship Lecture Series: Decentralizing the Creative Process by Asim Waqif

Visiting Artist Fellowship Lecture Series:  Decentralizing the Creative Process by Asim Waqif

The Mittal Institute recently concluded the 2020–2021 Visiting Artist Fellowship, which annually brings four mid-career visual artists to Cambridge to engage with Harvard faculty and students, participate in art exhibitions, and perform research using Harvard’s intellectual resources to further their art practice. Due to COVID-related programming changes this year, the fellowship was reimagined, bringing 13 of the top applicants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal to the virtual world for a series of four online seminars curated to support the artists’ long-term practice. In these courses, the artists participated in thought-provoking discussions centering on art history, creative writing, urban design, and more, with both their peers and the expert facilitating the class. For the final installment of the VAF Lecture Series, the Mittal Institute welcomed Asim Waqif, a Delhi-based artist whose international work revolves around architecture, ecology and design.

A Timeline of South Asian History: Dynasties, Rulers and Key Events

A Timeline of South Asian History: Dynasties, Rulers and Key Events

Vaishnavi Patil, a Ph.D candidate in the Harvard Department of History of Art and Architecture, was a recipient of a Mittal Institute’s Winter 2020 Student Grant. Her digital humanities project brings together scholarship based on literature, numismatics and archaeological evidence to provide a comprehensive timeline for South Asian History. Read more about her endeavor in her own words.

Collaborative Effort Launched to Counter Misinformation with Science-based Guidelines for Covid-19 Treatment

Collaborative Effort Launched to Counter Misinformation with Science-based Guidelines for Covid-19 Treatment

The Swasth Alliance has announced the launch of a partnership of community-based organizations, frontline clinicians and leading scientists from India and the Indian diaspora to develop a community of practice committed to advancing evidence-based COVID-19 care, contextualized to rural India. The partnership, the Swasth Community Science Alliance (CSA), will provide a suite of timely clinical resources for use in rural and urban settings, all vetted for scientific accuracy.

Pakistan’s Primary School-Aged Children’s Learning Experiences During COVID-19

Pakistan’s Primary School-Aged Children’s Learning Experiences During COVID-19

Cultural anthropologist Abdul Razaque Channa, Ph.D. shares his research on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on learning among Pakistan’s school age children. Professor Channa is a Research Affiliate at the Mittal Institute and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Sindh – Jamshoro.