In 1979, an organization named Gram Vikas emerged in Odisha with the goal of supporting marginalized communities in India — from providing cleaner ways to access water and sanitation, to the construction of schools and renewable energy sources. Today, Gram Vikas is working on a project to revive a solar micro-grid in Maligaon that had broken down in 2013 after its power source became depleted. Without improvement of the micro-grid, electricity in the community is unstable, and blackouts can last months at a time. Eshaan Patheria, a Harvard College ’18 alumnus, joined the organization as an SBI Youth for India Fellow in 2018, and now oversees the micro-grid renewal project in Maligaon. In partnership with the local community, Patheria’s team is using modern technologies to improve quality of life throughout the district.
Category : India
Every 30 minutes, a farmer in India commits suicide. That haunting fact is the inspiration behind a new social enterprise and digital platform called Gramhal, which will streamline the work of smallholder farmers in India, while increasing their income. Co-founders Vikas Birhma, originally from a village in Northern India, and Pankaj Mahalle, from a small village in Central India, met and became friends at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. “We both had lived experiences of agrarian hardships and poverty, which became a strong undercurrent of our friendship,” Birhma said.
“The pathway from education to employment for Indian youth is, simply put, failing them,” says Vish Srivastava, co-founder of India’s newest employment app, Meet. Alongside co-founder Ankit Chugh, the two have built a platform to address the difficulties that India’s job market presents, with 30% of Indians aged 15-29 either unemployed or not enrolled in an educational institution or skills training program.
Over the Spring semester, Professor Rahul Mehrotra of the Harvard Graduate School of Design challenged his students in an Option Studio to examine the sanitation infrastructure of Mumbai. They were given one ultimate goal: to build a wide-ranging strategy that would upgrade the indigenous settlements of the Koli or fishing community and integrate them into the broader urban system through sanitation infrastructure.
The Mittal Institute engages in interdisciplinary research to advance and deepen the understanding of critical issues in South Asia and the region’s relationship with the world. It holds regular events on issues relating to South Asia; offers fellowships and grants to further the study of the South Asian region; produces research and programs on social, economic, scientific, and political issues in South Asia; and much more. We are seeking a Communications Manager to handle content, communications, press relations, and event outreach in our New Delhi office.
Each year, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition invites Harvard students to propose projects that can positively impact societal, economic, or environmental issues in India and Pakistan, helping to develop innovation and entrepreneurship in the two countries. This year, a close competition provided grants to one winning team and two runners-up to develop their projects. Riskboard, a runner-up, is an app in development by four Harvard students that will harness online data via social media and open source media data sites to monitor political risk and human rights abuses in India.
At the Mittal Institute’s 10th Annual Mahindra Lecture, economist and activist Devaki Jain spoke about India’s post-independence politics and economics, her life and experiences, and the growing feminist movement in India. Check out the podcast from the event here.
Devaki Jain is an Indian economist and writer who has made significant contributions to feminist economics, social justice, and women’s empowerment in India. In 2006, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan — the third-highest civilian honor from the Government of India — for her contributions to society.
On April 3rd, the India Digital Health Net (IDHN), a multidisciplinary research and development initiative established to support an Application Programming Interface-enabled (API) federated health data architecture in India, convened a workshop in New Delhi to learn from the several initiatives across the country that are building components of what may ultimately become India’s health tech grid. The workshop was organized with support from the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Asia Center. Dr. Satchit Balsari (Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Professor Tarun Khanna (Harvard Business School) served as co-chairs of the event.
Are we doing enough to promote science in India? Do we understand its link to the economy? And what needs to be done to promote learning and collaboration in India?
These were some of the questions we set out to answer during our first-ever Annual India Symposium, “Science & Society,” in New Delhi on April 4, 2019. We brought together five panel sessions containing Indian and foreign scientists, government representatives, and industry leaders to discuss, debate, and brainstorm ideas that can advance scientific learning and understanding in India.
In Pakistan and India, the figure of the “educated girl” has emerged over the past few decades, linked to the countries’ politics, educational reform, and campaigns for development. But what is the true meaning behind this idealized figure of Muslim women and girls?
Shenila Khoja-Moolji is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College, where she examines the relationships between race, gender, religion, and power across nations and with particular attention to Muslim populations. She recently authored the book Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, where she takes an in-depth exploration of her research into the history and culture surrounding the figure of the “educated girl” in postcolonial Pakistan and colonial India.
On April 5, 2019, Professor Tarun Khanna, Director of the Mittal Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, traveled to Ashoka University to give a talk to students on meritocracy in India and China.
“I spent an energizing April morning with students and faculty at Ashoka University, one of India’s newer liberal arts universities a couple hours outside of New Delhi. Our conversation unfolded very much like a Gen.Ed class discourse does at Harvard,” Professor Khanna said.