In 2019, the Mittal Institute’s Seed for Change competition awarded the Gramhal team, composed of members Vikas Birhma and Pankaj Mahalle, first place. Over the past year, the funding from the competition has helped take their social enterprise initiative off the ground, and Gramhal has already had a significant impact on the lives of smallholder farmers in India. In the last few months of 2019, over 50 farmers sold their produce — worth USD 100,000 — through Gramhal, receiving a fair and higher price.
Category : News
Last week, the LUMS Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib School of Education (SOE) in Lahore, Pakistan hosted a talk with development economist Lant Pritchett, entitled “The Global Learning Crisis: What We Do Know, What We Don’t.” Pritchett is an Associate at the Building State Capability Program at Harvard’s Center for International Development, and the RISE Research Director at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.
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.”
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.
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.
A seven-member delegation from Harvard College recently visited the Indian state of Manipur to conduct the second iteration of the Program for Scientifically Inspired Leadership (PSIL), a program that would encourage local high school students and college-level teaching assistants in a Western-style education format.
The digital version of the Mittal Institute’s 2018-2019 Student Grant Report has just been released! The report highlights the recipients of the Mittal Institute’s Winter 2018 and Summer 2019 student grants, who traveled all over South Asia to learn about everything from conservation in post-colonial India to the transformation of South Asian foodways.
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.
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.
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.
Each year, the Mittal Institute sponsors several visiting scientists to pursue research in fields related to the biosciences at Harvard University and other institutions in the Boston area. Working in university laboratories under the mentorship of top bioscience mentors and faculty, the visiting scientists have the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences and bring back new techniques and knowledge to their home institutions.
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.