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.
Category : India
A seven-member delegation from Harvard College recently visited the Indian state of Manipur to conduct the second iteration of the Program for Scientifically Inspired Leadership (PSIL), a program that would encourage local high school students and college-level teaching assistants in a Western-style education format.
Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, recently traveled to Bangalore to give a talk on her latest book that delves into these issues. The book, Can Science Make Sense of Life?, looks at flashpoints in law, politics, ethics, and culture to argue that science’s promises of perfectibility have gone too far. Science may have editorial control over the material elements of life, but it does not supersede the languages of sense-making that have helped define human values across millennia: the meanings of autonomy, integrity, and privacy; the bonds of kinship, family, and society; and the place of humans in nature.
This January, the Mittal Institute launched a new podcast titled “India In-Focus” in collaboration with The Times of India. The podcast promises to bring one-on-one discussions between faculty and experts from Harvard around the transformative research and pivotal breakthroughs that have the potential to transform how India conducts business, creates new ideas, and tackles pressing social, technological, and environmental challenges.
Recently, Professor Venkatesh Murthy gave a talk entitled “Algorithms and Neural Circuits in Olfaction,” at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences in Bangalore, exploring how animals sense the chemical world to guide their behaviors. “Fluctuating mixtures of odorants, often transported in fluid environments, are detected by an array of chemical sensors and parsed by neural circuits to recognize odor objects that can inform behavioral decisions.
The beginning of 2020 marked a massive celebration of science with the India Science Fest (ISF) in Pune, India, which aimed to bridge the gap between scientists and society and help the youth engage with the latest in science and technology from across the world. The festival, organized by Aspiring Minds and the Mittal Institute, brought the international science community to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER). Social Alpha, the Tata Institute of Genetics and Society, and Google AI Research were key supporters of the festival.
This January, Neha Hiranandani will join us in Mumbai to discuss her recently published book, Girl Power: Indian Women Who Broke the Rules, with Professor Jacqueline Bhabha of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Centering on the challenges young women still face when it comes to access to education and health while negotiating with the societal expectations, Hiranandani and Bhabha will discuss the stories of “rebel women” in India — pondering the factors that contribute to the success of those who break the mold, against the odds.
Recently, Professor Tarun Khanna — Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the Mittal Institute — traveled to Bengaluru to give the D.D. Kosambi Lecture, “A Paean to Learning to ‘See’” at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences. The talk was structured around the use of basic analytics to better “see” some overlooked regularities in human behavior — drawing on examples from recent Indian history, including the Partition of British India in 1947 and the annual Maha Kumbh Mela religious gathering, and from contemporary social phenomena.
Sakshi Gupta is an accomplished sculptor and mixed media artist from India and one of the Mittal Institute’s Fall 2019 Visiting Artist Fellows. Her practice frames human conditions of understanding, progressing, suffering, and halting due to a lack or gain of knowledge, will, or energy. Her work grapples with the need to achieve a balance between life’s inherent polarities, exhibiting this by utilizing materials often considered waste or ordinary. She’s dedicated her life to an immersive journey through form and material, toward the non-material and experiential.
The latest inauguration ceremonies of two Prakash Vision Centers (PVCs) in Brahmpur and Pali blocks of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, were recently held in late October. These vision centers have been established under the project “Multidisciplinary Approach to Innovative Social Enterprises” with support from the Mittal Institute and Harvard Global Research Support Centre in India. More than a hundred people from the neighboring villages attended the ceremony, which featured special guests Rinku Yadav, the Village Pradhan of Lalapur village in Brahmpur Block, and Brijil K. Mathew, Manager of Eye Care Services at Fatima Hospital in Gorakhpur. Fatima Hospital is a charitable hospital with a well-appointed ophthalmic division that has partnered with Project Prakash to provide medical treatment to patients referred from PVCs for specialized care.
Each year, the Mittal Institute welcomes a new Raghunathan Family Fellow to support recent PhDs whose research lies in the humanities and social sciences related to South Asia. Naveen Bharathi, the Mittal Institute’s 2019-20 Raghunathan Family Fellow, comes to Harvard with a breadth of experience as an architect, planner, and researcher of political sociology and political economy of identity in India. Most particularly, his research explores the relationship between ethnic diversity and development in contemporary urban India.
“If we look at some of the most contentious land conflicts over the past decade, we realize that the new economic corridors are not anachronistic to the agrarian countryside. Instead, they accrete onto former agricultural modernization programs of the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution helped consolidate … provincial propertied classes — and these agrarian propertied classes are at the forefront of these corridor conflicts,” said Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, in her talk this week on economic corridors in India and the infrastructural urbanizing development projects that come with them.