Applications are now open for a two-week immersion course, based at IBAB in Bengaluru, that will introduce the students to some of the most exciting developments in Synthetic Biology. The students are expected to stay on campus for the duration of the workshop. Travel and lodging costs for selected students will be covered.
Advanced undergraduates (at least two years of study) and early graduate students from any scientific/technical background related to the course from an institution of higher education in India are encouraged to apply.
Researchers in India have undertaken three major studies related to gender, violence and the vulnerability of adolescents. The research has been led by Anita Raj, Tata Chancellor Professor of Medicine and the Director of UC San Diego’s Center on Gender Equity and Health in the Department of Medicine. She is also a Professor of Education Studies in the Division of Social Sciences at UC San Diego.
As part of its successful India Seminar Series, the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, invited Professor Raj to present her work in New Delhi. Professor Raj’s work is especially pertinent at a time when the conversation around different aspects of gender has been center stage across the globe.
There was an overwhelming response to the event, ‘Gender, Violence and Vulnerabilities of Adolescents in India’, which was attended by key stakeholders across various fields, including non-profits, educators, students and lawyers. The discussion was moderated by Shireen Vakil, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Tata Trusts, and the opening remarks were given by the Mittal Institute’s India Country Director, Dr. Sanjay Kumar.
Professor Raj’s research is designed to inform the Government of India’s Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram Program (National Adolescent Health Program). Here are some of the key findings:
(I) Family violence and suicidality among adolescent boys and girls in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
(II) Process of marital decision-making among adolescent girls in rural Jharkhand.
(III) Partner and non-partner sexual violence against adolescent girls, and the effects of the Nirbhaya case on reporting of rape in India.
The session closed with many important questions, dialogue and various conversations around gender and violence among youth in India. There were discussions around the role of education, social norms and sex education that perhaps resonate with the ongoing conversation on gender around the world.
The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, put together a panel on defluoridation of water in India, titled, “Tackling Fluorosis: Innovative Technology as a Solution to the Spreading Health Crisis”. The event was part of a project funded by the Tata Trusts-Mittal Institute initiative called “Multidisciplinary Approaches to Innovative Social Enterprises”. The panel comprised of Dr. Andrew Haddad, ITR-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Dr. Sunderrajan Krishnan, Executive Director of the INREM Foundation, and Srikrishna Sridhar Murthy, CEO of Sattva Consulting.
The project looks at scalable and affordable methods of removing fluoride from drinking water in fluoride heavy rural areas, where there is a dearth of access to even the very basic resources like proper nutrition, education, and clean drinking water. Excess fluoride in water can cause diseases such as skeletal and dental fluorosis, which, at their most severe, can result in severely stunted, abnormal growth, and damaged joints and bones. Haddad began the panel by elaborating on both the science behind current defluoridation technology used in India as well as the new technique evolved by Gadgil Lab for Energy and Water Research. The new technology, SAFR (Safe & Affordable Fluoride Removal), proposes using raw, locally-sourced bauxite ore to remove fluoride from water, a method which is 3 to 5 times cheaper, more energy efficient and sustainable than present methods of defluoridation.
Krishnan explained how the fluoride crisis in India is a structural problem, which can only be solved through the interaction of a number of factors such as proper nutrition, alleviating calcium deficiencies, and education. However, the people who generally suffer from fluorosis are those that live in extreme poverty and do not have access to enough food, let alone education. The villagers consider the symptoms of fluorosis in a child as a curse, and tend not to believe that a constructive change is needed in their water source as they have many other issues to contend with. Thus, Krishnan talked about the need for safe water, nutrition management, and behavioural change to work together to solve this crisis.
Lastly, Murthy from Sattva Consulting emphasized the importance of a strong structural ecosystem, where all stakeholders – government, scientists, NGOs, natural resource organisations, and the community – must work together if they want to solve the fluoride crisis on a large scale. He mentioned that Sattva works to join all the stakeholders, to scale up the research and implementation, and help to build local capacity.
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.
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 – www.aif.org/keralafund
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:
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)
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 – https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in/
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