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News Category: Faculty

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
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



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 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