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News Category: Faculty


Meritocracy: What Lessons Can India Learn From China?


 
How should societies identify and promote merit? Enabling all people to fulfill their full potential and ensuring that competent and capable leaders are selected to govern are central challenges for any society. Failure to meet these challenges can have enormous costs, for individuals and for societies as a whole. The richness of China’s historical experience and its distinctive current practices offer useful tools for reflection and comparative analysis. Does the case of China offer any lessons – positive or negative – for India to consider?
 
The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, have been jointly researching how talent is allocated in a society, how meritocracy has been conceptualized in both India and China, and how its definition has changed over time. Michael Szonyi, Frank Wen-Hsiung Memorial Professor of Chinese History and Director of the Fairbank Center, gave a lecture on ‘Meritocracy in China: Past and Present’ in Delhi on November 27, 2018, as a part of the larger project. 
 
He illuminated two types of meritocracy in China. The first type includes social, occupational or educational meritocracy, through which every individual is presumed to be able to fulfill their full potential by gaining access to education and opportunities for professional advancement. How can the structure of the educational system ensure equality of opportunity? Szonyi described the second type as a ‘political’ meritocracy, where, in a political system, leaders are selected on the basis of their competency. This system is focused on the evaluation of ability. Szonyi talked about how states tend to use some form of meritocracy to select and promote bureaucrats. 
 
He discussed the various debates regarding meritocracy, especially in light of China’s growth in the last 40 years and the perception that the West is faltering. With India touted to be the third largest economy by 2030 and China leading the world economy in the coming years, both countries can teach each other how to better manage and operationalize meritocracy and meritocratic systems in an effective way.
 
Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, and Director, The Mittal Institute, then summarized the key points of Szonyi’s lecture, and opened the floor to audience questions. Szonyi’s public lecture was followed by a workshop the next day on ‘Meritocracy in India and China’, which included eminent scholars of India and China.

Research Fellowship Opportunity: Soft Robotics Kit Project


We invite applications for a research fellow to work with Professor Conor Walsh at the Harvard Biodesign Lab, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University in collaboration with the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute. Only Indian nationals are eligible to apply.

The project aims to engage students in science disciplines and lower the barrier to participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by developing a line of soft robotic kits. The kits show students possible applications of robotics, such as grasping objects, artificial muscles, locomotion and others. It engages cognitive learning by introducing hands-on skills for prototyping, electronics and programming. More details can be found at https://softroboticstoolkit.com/.

The candidate is expected to have technical and educational skills but also have entrepreneurial interests. The initial year focus will be refining the educational kits, getting feedback from stakeholders (children, educators, government) in India and the US as well as outlining a plan for efforts could be scaled in order to deploy the kits at a number of sites. Experience with teaching STEM topics is preferred, or performing STEM outreach, or developing educational content. 

Candidates should have the following:

  • Master’s degree with 1+ years of work experience; or a Bachelor’s degree with 3+ years of work experience;
  • Passion for education and creativity to help design robotics educational kits;
  • Either Mechatronics/Mechanical/Electrical engineering or STEM education/EdTech background;
  • Excellent communication ability (oral and written) in English; Hindi fluency preferred
  • Strong organizational skills, motivation and desire to work with a team
  • Indian citizenship

Applications, assembled as a single PDF file, should contain a complete cover letter and resume as well as the names and contact information of three references (expected to provide letters of recommendation). 

The position is based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and will require regular travel to India.  

The appointment is for one year as a research fellow with the possibility of continuation for another year. The renumeration for this position is  Rs 33 lakh per annum, approx. 

Queries should be sent to Saba Dave at mittalinstitutedelhi@fas.harvard.edu

Applications should be sent to Conor Walsh at walsh@seas.harvard.edu

Deadline: December 28, 2018

Wintersession Opportunity in India


 
Eligibility: Any current Harvard undergraduate student, sophomore through senior. While the program’s focus is to use science to inspire students to think about leadership and social innovation, we encourage students from all concentrations to apply.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Christopher Li (Associate Director) at christopher_li@hks.harvard.edu
 
More information: Those interested in applying are strongly encouraged to attend one of the two info sessions with Dr. Dominic Mao, Program lead, PSIL:
 
Monday, Nov 5, 7.30PM 
Thursday, Nov 8, 7.30PM
Venue: Sherman Fairchild 095B (MCB/CPB Concentration Office) 
 
Faculty Chair: Venkatesh Murthy, Professor & Chair, Dept. of Molecular & Cellular Biology 
Director: Dominic Mao, Lecturer in Molecular & Cellular Biology
 

APPLY HERE

 

Deadline: Sunday, November 11 at 11.59PM

Mittal Institute Director’s Fall Message


Dear friends,

Welcome to the start of another busy, transformative year at the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University. The Mittal family’s generosity will enable us not only to continue our quest to research and understand the region and its relationship with the world, but will also allow our faculty, students and affiliates to push even further to produce new and useful knowledge. I have accepted the university’s offer to remain as Director for another three years and it is an honor to be here at such an exciting time.

Our Delhi office, an in-region headquarters, is truly up and running. There is great value in having such a strong local presence. From our partnership with Tata Trusts, which enables several Harvard innovators to work on projects in India, to the Department of Biotechnology-funded program in bioscience that strengthens the field by connecting leading US-based universities with Indian institutions. We are in the third year of our successful, illuminating Nepal Studies Program and we have created a partnership with Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and Bangladesh’s BRAC. Our Arts Program has expanded once again, as we welcome visiting artists from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Later this month, we will welcome dozens of first-generation college students from developing countries to our second annual Crossroads Emerging Leaders Program, another important collaboration, this time with Harvard’s Centers for African and Middle Eastern Studies and the HBS Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The inaugural edition was one of my personal highlights of 2017 and this year, the number of applicants more than doubled.

We are creating new programs and consolidating our work on existing projects. We are supporting new research and inquiry into the issues around mental health in South Asia; we are collaborating with Mumbai’s premier museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, to understand and explore arts conservation; we are working with Harvard’s Asia Center on a proposal for an earthquake museum in Nepal. Meanwhile, work continues on the Partition Project, created to coincide with last year’s 70th anniversary of the Partition of British India.

I invite you to attend our public seminars and connect with us both in person, on campus and in the region, and digitally. We are always open to new ideas and energetic contributions from the many people who are as fascinated as we are by this vitally important, dynamic region.

Best wishes,

Tarun Khanna

Director, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute

Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

 

Mittal Institute Director Discusses Latest Book in Bengaluru


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. 

Tarun Khanna (left) and Manish Sabharwal (right) at the fireside chat event in Bengaluru. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Class: Muslim Devotional Literatures in South Asia: Qawwalis, Sufiana Kalam (Sufi Poetry) and the Ginans


Religion 1814 / Islamic Civilizations 184; (FAS)/HDS 3375

Faculty: Ali Asani,Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures

Sever 106, Weds 3-5pm

This course explores traditions of Islamic spirituality in South Asia through the lens of three genres: the qawwali, concerts of mystical poetry;  sufiana kalam, Sufi romantic epics and folk poems; and the ginans, hymns of esoteric wisdom recited by the Satpanthi Ismailis. Since these genres represent examples of language, symbols and styles of worship shared across Islamic and non-Islamic denominational boundaries, we will also examine their relationships with other Indic traditions of devotion, particularly those associated with the so-called sant and Hindu bhakti movements. Special emphasis will be given to the impact of contemporary political ideologies, globalization and the revolution in media technology on the form and function of these genres and their relationship with contemporary communities of faith in South Asia and beyond.

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 a collaboration between the Mittal Institute and the Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Our partners are DIFC, Air Arabia, Dubai Future Accelerator and Expo 2020. The co-sponsors are Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, and the Harvard University Center for African Studies.

For more information, please contact hucrossroads@gmail.com or visit The Crossroads website.