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News Category: Faculty

Reimagining Health Data Exchange: An API-enabled Roadmap for India

In July 2018, The Government of India’s policy think tank NITI Aayog invited feedback on their blueprint for a “National Health Stack” – the tech spine required to support India’s recently-announced National Health Protection Scheme, extending coverage to 500 million people. In response, an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners from across Harvard and India have published a paper, “Reimagining Health Data Exchange: An API-enabled Roadmap for India,” in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, building on 18 months of deliberations following an initial workshop in September 2016, sponsored by a grant from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies. 
This paper lays the foundational principles for a federated architecture for India’s digital health data flow, focusing on the data minimization, unique universal identification, substitutability, patient consent-driven exchange, and privacy by design. 
The paper will serve as a guidepost for the India Digital Health Net, a multi-faculty initiative at Harvard established with seed funding from the Harvard Provost Fund for Interfaculty Collaboration, with partners across the public and private sector in India. The IDHN team will build and test component prototypes for the proposed architecture, drawing from inter-disciplinary expertise across Harvard and MIT. 

Indian Miniature Painting Demonstration with Murad Mumtaz Khan

[HAA184x Painting of India] Learning through Practice: Indian Miniature Painting Workshop with Artist and Art Historian Murad Mumtaz

Materials Lab, Harvard Art Museums, April 6, 2018



As part of her Painting in India Course (HAA184x Painting of India), Professor Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; and Faculty Director of the Arts at the Mittal Institute, organized a demonstration and workshop by artist and art historian Murad Mumtaz Khan. The course explored the history of Indian painting based on the collections of Harvard Art Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. As part of the course, Professor Kim organized several materials lab sessions at the Harvard Art Museums during which time students learned about techniques and materials first hand by making.


Thanks to – Francesca Bewer, Alexandra Gaydos, Penley Knipe, Harvard Art Museums Materials Lab, Dept. History of Art & Architecture, The Mittal Institute, Amy Johnson, and Emma Fitzgerald

Video by Amy Johnson

Videography by Emma Fitzgerald

Second Annual Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program

Harvard professors will welcome 70 first-generation college students from Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia to the Second Annual Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program in Dubai, a unique, fully-funded career development opportunity for accomplished, ambitious young people who have already had to overcome significant barriers to higher education. 

During the pilot program in 2017, 50 students engaged with each other and faculty through the renowned Harvard Business School case-study method of teaching and learning, exposing them to real, contemporary business scenarios. Executives from leading private and publicly-owned multinational companies visited the classroom to interact with students and offer their invaluable wisdom and experience.  

The successful cohort of 2017 included a young woman from a city in Pakistan with the country’s lowest female literacy rate. An Indian student had  worked as a garbage collector to pay his school fees.

The 2018 program will see a larger, even more diverse group of students exposed to a greater variety of disciplines within Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM), business and leadership.

Harvard faculty leading the program include Tarun Khanna, SAI Director and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; and Karim R. Lakhani, Charles E. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, co-director of the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, and the faculty co-founder of the HBS Digital Initiative. 

Crossroads Program, 2017

The program will cover the costs of international travel, board, lodging and class  materials, for students who are the first in their families to attend college and may also be facing challenging financial and social circumstances that discourage them from applying to postgraduate schools. 

Crossroads is organized in partnership with the Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with the support of  DIFC, Air Arabia, the Dubai Future Accelerator and  Expo 2020.

For more information, please contact or visit The Crossroads website. 


New Podcasts: “Culture Eats Technology” and “How Scientists And Economists Get Things Done (And Save Lives)”

The distinguished UC Berkeley scientist, Professor Ashok Gadgil, spoke at our Annual Symposium about how he went from theoretical physicist to life-saving inventor of water purification technology, and what he’s learned about ‘knowledge translation’ (the theme of the symposium) along the way.



A fascinating conversation from our 2018 Symposium between Professor Ashok Gadgil (UC Berkeley), Professor Tarun Khanna (The Mittal Institute; Harvard Business School) and Professor Asim Khwaja (Harvard Kennedy School) – they talk about how difficult it is to solve life-or-death problems, even with great resources, and the kinds of things you have to do in order to get things done. 



Director’s Letter: “It’s Been A Pivotal Year For The Mittal Institute”

The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute’s Annual Symposium takes place on May 4, 2018, in the heart of the Harvard campus. It is the most important event on our calendar. We gather key collaborators, South Asia-focused experts and an informed, engaged audience to discuss progress in areas of study that have significant practical implications across the region. This year’s theme is “Knowledge Translation: Across Disciplines, Geographies, and From Research to Action”. The event is free and open to the public.

In his annual letter, Tarun Khanna, Director of The Mittal Institute, Harvard University, and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, assesses an important 12 month period for the institute.


It’s been a pivotal year for the Institute. The transformational support from Indian industrialist Mr. Lakshmi Mittal and his family ensures that South Asia remains an education and research priority at Harvard. The $25m naming endowment builds on the foundation established by the University and our Advisory Council. The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (The Mittal Institute) at Harvard University enters a new era of being a catalyst for interdisciplinary, Harvard-wide initiatives across South Asia. 

February marked the official opening of the Mittal Institute’s India office in Delhi, an important milestone for the University. It provides a substantive platform for launching new research and academic exchanges with important regional stakeholders and with Harvard faculty and students.

Last summer, the Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program was one of the best teaching experiences I have had at Harvard. 50 highly-talented students – the first in their families to attend college – from eleven countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East gathered in Dubai, following an extremely competitive application process. These students have had to overcome challenging economic, social, and cultural circumstances to pursue higher education in their country. We were able to provide them a fully-funded opportunity to learn and engage in critical thinking, of the kind that is available at the best institutions in the world. They, in turn, brought an exceptionally high level of energy and intellectual curiosity. This year, the Mittal Institute and Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council have collaborated again, expanding the program to admit up to 120 students who will be taught by faculty from multiple schools at Harvard. 

The Mittal Institute prides itself on the diversity and depth of its work, across the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, with projects and programs that connect a wide range of intellectual resources. Our progress over the years validates our platform approach to growth, making it feasible for all kinds of scholars to work with us.

Our programs in the Arts and Sciences made great strides in 2017/18. The Arts Program expanded significantly, with four visiting artists from across South Asia spending two months at Harvard, connecting their important work to the university and other key institutions in the New England region. Our Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings (B4) Program has also lived up to its potential, with top young Indian scientists doing groundbreaking work in Harvard’s laboratories. We have welcomed excellent scholars from Pakistan, as Aman and Babar Ali Fellows; our Nepal Studies Program is entering its third year; and we are assiduously building on new relationships with civil society and universities in Bangladesh. 

On a personal note, I have the honor of leading this organization for the next three years, having accepted an offer to continue as Director. Alongside the indefatigable Meena Hewett, Executive Director, and the rest of the team, I am excited by the possibilities that lie ahead at the Mittal Institute. I invite you to continue to follow our progress and find opportunities to contribute to the work we do in what will surely be another fascinating year ahead.


Annual Symposium Facebook Page


Free Online edX Course: “Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies”


Mittal Insitute Director and Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna, in collaboration with HarvardX, has re-opened his free online course Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies. The six-week course is open for enrollment now and runs from Feb 28-Jul 30, 2018. 

Students will make connections with others from around the world who have similar interests in this topic. The content of the course will give students an awareness of the opportunities for entrepreneurship in fast-growing emerging markets, a conceptual framework for evaluating such opportunities, and an appreciation of the types of problems that lend themselves to entrepreneurial solutions.

Sign-up for this free course at

The Mittal Institute and Tata Trusts Begin Social Enterprise Partnership in India


Harvard Faculty Jacqueline Bhabha, Conor Walsh and Satchit Balsari

(l-r) Jacqueline Bhabha, Conor Walsh and Satchit Balsari


A wide range of India-focused research, innovation and social entrepreneurship projects are under way, led by leading Harvard University scholars and academic colleagues from two other world-class educational institutions: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), in an unprecedented collaboration with Tata Trusts, one of India’s largest and most important philanthropic organizations.

This is Phase II of a long-term partnership between Tata Trusts and the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (The Mittal Institute), Harvard University. Phase I was a series of successful pilot projects over an 18-month period, in three areas: women’s empowerment, rural livelihood creation in the handicrafts sector, and the use of science and technology for livelihood creation.

“We have a lot to learn from challenges on the ground while sharing what we as academics uncover through our deep dive research on issues affecting entrepreneurship in India. This partnership with the Tata Trusts is laying the foundation for innovative knowledge exchange between academia and practitioners.” – Professor Tarun Khanna, Director, The Mittal Institute, and Professor, Harvard Business School.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, which has a unique capacity to gather together the best minds from a wide variety of disciplines, all dedicated to solving the most complex social problems in India.” – Manoj Kumar, Head of Innovation, Tata Trusts.

The projects, described below, are firmly rooted in India and based on rigorous field research on the ground.




Prototyping Wearable Robotics for Physical Disability

Faculty: Conor Walsh (Harvard)

The development of a series of consumer-oriented, affordable, wearable devices, to address physical disability in India.


Task-shifting, Training, and Technology: Validating the 3T model

Faculty: Satchit Balsari (Harvard)

This project will prototype the 3T model for primary healthcare delivery, through the use of mobile and digital health technologies.


Project Prakash

Faculty: Pawan Sinha (MIT)

Treatment for curably blind children, illuminating fundamental questions regarding the brain and learning.


Low-cost Toilets in India

Faculty: Rahul Mehrotra (Harvard)

An examination of the issue of public sanitation in Mumbai, with a special focus on community toilets in the city’s slums and informal settlements.


Unpacking Prevention: Community-level Strategies to Build Child Protection and Rights in India

Faculty: Jacqueline Bhabha (Harvard)

Field research in West Bengal, Bihar and Telangana.


Deflouridation Water Filters

Faculty: Ashok Gadgil (University of Berkeley, California)

India has over 66 million people facing risk of developing fluorosis and it is also home to the 5th largest bauxite deposit (3037 million tonnes). This study systematically investigates the factors governing performance of diversely-sourced bauxite ores.


Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition:

Faculty: Chris Duggan (Harvard)

The SAI team would act as the platform on which entrepreneurs in the nutrition and food industry could come together and learn from global experts in the field to design and fund new industries and/or new commercial products that are well designed for mother and children.


Cook Stoves

Faculty: Ashok Gadgil (University of Berkeley, California)

Berkeley has stove designs that reduce fuel consumption per meal by 50%, cost US$20, and produce 50% less smoke than a traditional biomass fire.


Partition Stories: Collection and Analysis of Oral Narratives

This project is a part of a larger research study called, Looking Back, Informing the Future – The 1947 Partition of British India.

Goals of the Partition Stories Project:

  • Preserve and enrich the historical knowledge of Partition in crowd proportions,
  • Discover the different yet merging perspectives of the largest migration in history,
  • Analyze the past and prevailing rhetoric surrounding the Partition,
  • Provide free access to the stories through the Harvard SAI Partition portal.

The project is being co-led by Karim Lakhani, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Tarun Khanna, Director of the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

The three month pilot phase included a collection of 350 stories from the sub-continent and United States. The preliminary analysis can be viewed in Professor Khanna’s presentation at the World Economic Forum in China, this summer.

The project hopes to contribute to the scholarship around the events that led to the largest involuntary migration in recent history. In addition, it will inform scholarship about, and policies related to, other such societal schisms, subsequent to that time, and those occurring today.

We aim to collect stories, reflections, memories, or experiences through crowdsourcing as well as through an online survey.

You can share your story here.

Crossroads Summer Program 2017

Fifty driven, accomplished students from eleven countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East formed the inaugural cohort of the Harvard South Asia Institute’s Crossroads Summer Program. They are all first-generation college students – the first in their families to participate in higher education, many from challenging financial circumstances – and came together in the heat of Dubai from August 11-14, 2017.

The successful cohort was an even balance of male and female students, from diverse backgrounds. There was, for example, a young woman from Quetta, a city in Pakistan with the country’s lowest female literacy rate. Another student had worked as a garbage collector to pay his school fees.

These young people face challenges that are far beyond the experience of most Harvard students; their success fulfilled one of the main goals of the program. And as the video below shows, they also managed to have a little fun along the way.

Leading scholars from Harvard led the key sessions:

  • Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director of the South Asia Institute at Harvard University.
  • Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative.
  • Kristin E. Fabbe is an assistant professor in the Business, Government, and International Economy Unit.

This unique program was a collaboration between the Harvard South Asia Institute, Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Dubai International Financial Centre, with the support of Air Arabia, the Carlton Hotel, Dubai Future Accelerators, and Emirates Grand Hotel. It offered a fully-funded career development opportunity and introduction to top-level American university culture for students who might otherwise have their ambitions curtailed by circumstances beyond their control; with their dedication and conduct, these students showed very clearly the value of such opportunities.