Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social & Economic Problems will be available to Harvard College, FAS, GSAS, HBS, HGSE, HKS, and HLS students. This course provides a framework (and multiple lenses) through which to think about the salient economic and social problems of the developing world.
The Mittal Institute’s 1947 Partition of British India project seeks to unravel the history behind one of the world’s largest forced migration events, allowing us to understand the implications of mass dislocations across geographies. Despite the amount of established historical and political scholarship on the Partition, there is still much to uncover through oral accounts from minority groups within India — specifically, from Muslim families who did not migrate to Pakistan.
In 1979, an organization named Gram Vikas emerged in Odisha with the goal of supporting marginalized communities in India — from providing cleaner ways to access water and sanitation, to the construction of schools and renewable energy sources. Today, Gram Vikas is working on a project to revive a solar micro-grid in Maligaon that had broken down in 2013 after its power source became depleted. Without improvement of the micro-grid, electricity in the community is unstable, and blackouts can last months at a time. Eshaan Patheria, a Harvard College ’18 alumnus, joined the organization as an SBI Youth for India Fellow in 2018, and now oversees the micro-grid renewal project in Maligaon. In partnership with the local community, Patheria’s team is using modern technologies to improve quality of life throughout the district.
The Mittal Institute offers a variety of learning opportunities in South Asia for Harvard students through its grants program. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for research grants to support independent research and thesis field work. The Mittal Institute has partnered with over 50 organizations in South Asia to offer internships to Harvard students. Here are this year’s summer grant recipients.
Every 30 minutes, a farmer in India commits suicide. That haunting fact is the inspiration behind a new social enterprise and digital platform called Gramhal, which will streamline the work of smallholder farmers in India, while increasing their income. Co-founders Vikas Birhma, originally from a village in Northern India, and Pankaj Mahalle, from a small village in Central India, met and became friends at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. “We both had lived experiences of agrarian hardships and poverty, which became a strong undercurrent of our friendship,” Birhma said.
“The pathway from education to employment for Indian youth is, simply put, failing them,” says Vish Srivastava, co-founder of India’s newest employment app, Meet. Alongside co-founder Ankit Chugh, the two have built a platform to address the difficulties that India’s job market presents, with 30% of Indians aged 15-29 either unemployed or not enrolled in an educational institution or skills training program.
Over the Spring semester, Professor Rahul Mehrotra of the Harvard Graduate School of Design challenged his students in an Option Studio to examine the sanitation infrastructure of Mumbai. They were given one ultimate goal: to build a wide-ranging strategy that would upgrade the indigenous settlements of the Koli or fishing community and integrate them into the broader urban system through sanitation infrastructure.
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.
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.
Candidates are encouraged to submit their proposals for the chance to speak on a panel at the upcoming Fall 2019 Mobilities and Immobilities workshop at Harvard University.
Dr. Dominic Mao, originally from Manipur, Imphal — a state in the extreme northeastern region of India — recently set out to create a program there to engage high school students and college-level teaching assistants in a Western-style educational format. He teamed up with three Harvard undergraduates and one alum to make it happen.
Last week, Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta — Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University in India — visited the Mittal Institute for an informal lunch with faculty and doctoral students. At the lunch, Dr. Mehta discussed the creation of Ashoka University, its commitment to the liberal arts, and the plans for its future.