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News Category: India

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 –

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) ––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 –

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 –



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 →

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.

Partition Stories: Meeting the ‘Flying Sikh’

“On 28th April 2018, I Interviewed Mr. Milkha Singh (Flying Sikh), one of the finest athletes India has ever produced” beamed a very excited Akshay Veer, a Partition ambassador at the Mittal Institute, Harvard University. Akshay was part of a 55 student cohort that worked on a project titled, ‘Looking Back, Informing the Future – The 1947 Partition British India: Implications of Mass Dislocations across Geographies.’ As part of this project, student ambassadors collected and documented oral stories from survivors of the Partition. 

“He was born in a district called Muzaffargarh, now in Pakistan, in the year 1927. He did not know his exact date or time of birth, as there was hardly any documentation at that time, but estimates that he was around 16 or 17 years old when the Partition happened. He studied up until the fourth standard in a mosque near his village. Although the majority of people in his village were Muslim, there was no feeling of insecurity or being threatened. Everyone lived peacefully together” Akshay recalls from his conversation with the stalwart athlete. “Mr. Singh remembered life before Partition and described it as slow compared to city life today. The people in the village focused on farming and livelihoods and were very simple. When the Partition happened, they had no information and found out from villagers who were talking about fleeing their villages. Nobody was aware that Pakistan was formed. There was also news of trains running between India and Pakistan with many people being slaughtered on their way from one place to another. Mr. Singh’s family too was killed back in Pakistan, while he managed to somehow make his way to a refugee camp in Delhi, and started life again from scratch.”

Akshay was one of the many student ambassadors who worked on the Partition project that has, over the last year, collected almost 2,000 oral stories from survivors and families affected by Partition across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The project hopes to learn about the complexities of large-scale human migration and resettlement, and use these lessons to inform current cross border displacements.




8th Annual One Harvard Young Harvard Event 2018

The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute along with the Harvard Club of India hosted the 8th annual One Harvard Young Harvard meet up on Aug 3rd 2018. The event welcomed all current and incoming students at Harvard University at the Gymkhana Club in New Delhi. We were joined by incoming students from various graduate schools, including the School of Education (GSE), Law School (HLS), Design School (GSD) as well as many alumni from across Harvard. Continue reading →