Suhasini Kejriwal, a mixed media artist from India, joined the Mittal Institute earlier this Spring in our latest group of Visiting Artist Fellows. Through photography, paintings, embroidery, and more, Suhasini’s practice acts as witness to the lived experiences of those whom she observes, living out their lives in the busy streets of India’s urban landscapes.
Category : India
This past winter break, with the support of the Mittal Institute, my classmate Jay and I ventured on a three-week journey through India. We hopped on a 16-hour flight from JFK to Mumbai the night after our last final, excited to hit the ground running. I couldn’t have imagined how enriching and fun our adventure would turn out to be. We were traveling to South Asia to meet with engineers, clinicians, and entrepreneurs to discuss medical technology innovation.
Recently, Dr. Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and the Director of the Mittal Institute, addressed an online audience of more than 15,000 youth at the South Asia Youth Resilience Summit organized by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Project Prakash recently hosted a successful UnrulyArt event at its center in the Shroff Charity Eye Hospital in New Delhi. The participants were Prakash children, who had been treated for congenital cataract under Project Prakash in the last few years. Among the oldest of the Prakash children participating in the event were sisters Bushra and Fatima, who had traveled with their father from Panipat in Haryana, covering a distance of no less than a hundred miles.
Through the Mittal Institute’s South Asia and the Arts Travel Fund, I traveled to Vadodara, Gujarat and Mumbai, Maharashtra in India to conduct research for my qualifying paper, a requirement in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University. My qualifying paper explores the conception of the mother-child motif in ancient India within Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, and expands on the function and role of these goddesses and the similarities and differences in their worship.