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Category : In Region


Exploring the Rasavahini and Buddhism of Medieval Sri Lanka

Exploring the Rasavahini and Buddhism of Medieval Sri Lanka

Alexis Brown is a doctoral student at Harvard University, who recently traveled to Sri Lanka over the winter break to perform field research for her dissertation, centered on a Buddhist narrative anthology entitled Rasavahini, written in medieval Sri Lanka. As Brown notes, “the Rasavahini is considered one of the most important works among post-canonical Pali literature in Sri Lanka, as well as Thailand, Burma, and Laos. Despite the Rasavahini’s importance in South and Southeast Asia, relatively little scholarship has been published on it.”

Priti Gupta: Project Prakash Restores Eyesight to Children

Priti Gupta: Project Prakash Restores Eyesight to Children

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.

The Centuries-Old Sculptures and Temples of Western India

The Centuries-Old Sculptures and Temples of Western India

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.

Sheila Jasanoff: Can Science Make Sense of Life?

Sheila Jasanoff: Can Science Make Sense of Life?

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.

Pakistan’s Vibrant Arts and Culture Showcased at the Lahore Biennale

Pakistan’s Vibrant Arts and Culture Showcased at the Lahore Biennale

From its cultural zenith in the days of Akbar, Lahore has remained a major center of knowledge and creativity in South Asia. As a free-spirited city that was home to the Mayo School — among other great institutions of knowledge — Lahore fed the imaginations of artists, poets, and writers, from B.C. Sanyal, Amrita Shergil, and Chughtai, to Faiz, Manto, and Khushwant Singh. But in the decades following Ayub’s martial law, as the space for arts and humanities diminished in Pakistan’s public discourse, so too did Lahore’s claim of being a vibrant cultural capital.

Announcing the “India In-Focus” Podcast in Collaboration with The Times of India

Announcing the “India In-Focus” Podcast in Collaboration with The Times of India

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. 

Algorithms and Neural Circuits: How Do Animals Solve Olfactory Tasks?

Algorithms and Neural Circuits: How Do Animals Solve Olfactory Tasks?

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.

TraumaLink Provides Rapid Emergency Response in Bangladesh

TraumaLink Provides Rapid Emergency Response in Bangladesh

TraumaLink was founded in 2013 as a volunteer-based emergency response system providing free care to traffic injury victims in Bangladesh. Recently, in November 2019, the organization celebrated its five year anniversary. The project grew out of a winter session trip that brought together three Harvard T.H. Chan students: Jon Moussally, Eric Dunipace, and Ryan Fu. During their time in Dhaka, they met Mridul Chowdhury, CEO of mPower Social Enterprises, Ltd., who holds an MPA in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

India Science Festival: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Society

India Science Festival: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Society

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.

Neha Hiranandani: Girl Power and Breaking the Mold in India

Neha Hiranandani: Girl Power and Breaking the Mold in India

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.

A Paean to Learning to “See” and the 1947 Partition

A Paean to Learning to “See” and the 1947 Partition

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.

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