Each year, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition invites Harvard students to propose projects that can positively impact societal, economic, or environmental issues in India and Pakistan, helping to develop innovation and entrepreneurship in the two countries. This year, a close competition provided grants to one winning team and two runners-up to develop their projects. Riskboard, a runner-up, is an app in development by four Harvard students that will harness online data via social media and open source media data sites to monitor political risk and human rights abuses in India.
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At Harvard’s latest Arts First Festival, Mittal Institute student grant recipients Nadyeli Quiroz and John David Wagner unveiled their Living Form sunshade project — an installation that will eventually make its way to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Last week, the Mittal Institute held its Annual Cambridge Symposium, welcoming supporters and Harvard faculty to a series of discussions on the Mittal Institute’s and Harvard’s scholarship on science and technology, health, arts, and education in South Asia. With a lively group and a full roster of experts to speak on each topic, the group explored everything from robotics to art conservation in the South Asian region.
At the Mittal Institute’s 10th Annual Mahindra Lecture, economist and activist Devaki Jain spoke about India’s post-independence politics and economics, her life and experiences, and the growing feminist movement in India. Check out the podcast from the event here.
Currently in its third year, the Mittal Institute’s Nepal Studies Program — led by Professor Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard — continues its work engaging with scholars and practitioners in both Cambridge and Nepal. With each year of the program focusing on a different topic and led by a different faculty member, Witzel has journeyed into an exploration of Hinduism in Nepal and the important role of rituals, from the Vedic period to modern times.
Devaki Jain is an Indian economist and writer who has made significant contributions to feminist economics, social justice, and women’s empowerment in India. In 2006, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan — the third-highest civilian honor from the Government of India — for her contributions to society.
Sarah Khan, a Postgraduate Associate at Yale MacMillan Center, recently visited Harvard to discuss her team’s field experiment in Lahore during the 2018 Pakistan General Elections and their work to understand the gender gap in voter turnout in Pakistan. “The question that we’re interested in as it pertains to Pakistan is: what explains — and relatedly — how can we close the large and persistent gender gap in voter turnout in Pakistan?” Khan asked.
On April 3rd, the India Digital Health Net (IDHN), a multidisciplinary research and development initiative established to support an Application Programming Interface-enabled (API) federated health data architecture in India, convened a workshop in New Delhi to learn from the several initiatives across the country that are building components of what may ultimately become India’s health tech grid. The workshop was organized with support from the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Asia Center. Dr. Satchit Balsari (Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) and Professor Tarun Khanna (Harvard Business School) served as co-chairs of the event.
Are we doing enough to promote science in India? Do we understand its link to the economy? And what needs to be done to promote learning and collaboration in India?
These were some of the questions we set out to answer during our first-ever Annual India Symposium, “Science & Society,” in New Delhi on April 4, 2019. We brought together five panel sessions containing Indian and foreign scientists, government representatives, and industry leaders to discuss, debate, and brainstorm ideas that can advance scientific learning and understanding in India.
In Pakistan and India, the figure of the “educated girl” has emerged over the past few decades, linked to the countries’ politics, educational reform, and campaigns for development. But what is the true meaning behind this idealized figure of Muslim women and girls?
Shenila Khoja-Moolji is an Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College, where she examines the relationships between race, gender, religion, and power across nations and with particular attention to Muslim populations. She recently authored the book Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, where she takes an in-depth exploration of her research into the history and culture surrounding the figure of the “educated girl” in postcolonial Pakistan and colonial India.
On April 5, 2019, Professor Tarun Khanna, Director of the Mittal Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School, traveled to Ashoka University to give a talk to students on meritocracy in India and China.
“I spent an energizing April morning with students and faculty at Ashoka University, one of India’s newer liberal arts universities a couple hours outside of New Delhi. Our conversation unfolded very much like a Gen.Ed class discourse does at Harvard,” Professor Khanna said.
Professor Catherine Becker of the University of Illinois, Chicago recently visited the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard to give a talk to faculty, students, and visitors. Her discussion, entitled “Propagating The Sacred: Considering Acts of Reproduction in Buddhist Sculpture in India and Sri Lanka,” brought together strains of her earlier research on the early Buddhist art of Andhra and her more recent interests in the contemporary presentation of India’s heritage sites.