SPEAKER: Asif Siddiqi, Professor of History, Fordham University
The Indian state’s broken pacts with Indigenous communities, the so-called ‘scheduled tribes’ or Adivasi, resulted in massive displacements in the name of environmental, territorial, and infrastructural sovereignty, yet none have given rise to such troubling paradoxes as those implemented to build rocket launch sites. To make way for a new space center in Andhra Pradesh, in 1970, the government of India forcibly removed and resettled a large population of Yanadi people. More than fifty years later, the profound and permanent disruptions caused by this dislocation continue to reverberate in the deep social and economic precarity of the Yanadi. I recover this story as a starting point to highlight two broader intersecting frames. The first positions India’s emergent technoscientific projects in the decades after independence as reproducing certain forms of violence redolent of colonial science. The second finds echoes of such violence in infrastructural entanglements across the world in places like Algeria, Kenya, California, Kazakhstan, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and elsewhere. I argue that the violence of displacement, dislocation, and damage, accompanied by local resistance, were not appendices to the long history of spaceflight but fundamental to it, as space activities unfolded through deeply colonial-minded practices. Moreover, I argue that such initiatives functioned squarely within the modernist aspirations of individual states, the international scientific community, and often, ordinary people, activated by the desires and promise that space exploration invoked.
Asif Siddiqi is Professor of History at Fordham University, where he works on the global history of science and technology in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Science and Technology in Asia Seminar Series is sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center and convened by Victor Seow, Assistant Professor of History of Science.
Since the discovery of the structure of DNA and the birth of the genetic age, a powerful vocabulary has emerged to express science’s growing command over the matter of life. Armed with knowledge of the code that governs all living things, biology and biotechnology are poised to edit, even rewrite, the texts of life to correct nature’s mistakes. Yet, how far should the capacity to manipulate what life is at the molecular level authorize science to define what life is for? This book 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.
Prof. Sheila Jasanoff
Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies,
Harvard Kennedy School
Between the Yogi and the Commissar: Imagining De-Colonial Science in Postcolonial India, c. 1952–1977
Projit Bihari Mukharji, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Moderated by Victor Seow, Assistant Professor, Department of History of Science, Harvard University
For the generation of political leaders who took charge of the newly independent Indian state in 1947, the world seemed to ripen for renewal. They had brought a mighty empire to its knees, and now sought to build a new nation, where science would play a key role. But what was “science”? What ends should it pursue? And how did its work relate to that of statecraft? These were some of the questions they explored.
Most of the scholarship on science in the newly independent Indian republic has focused on “Nehruvian science.” But Nehru was far from being the only influential postcolonial politician to be interested in science and its role in nation-building. This talk will explore a very different set of engagements between science, postcolonial statecraft, and the quest for a de-colonial future through the history of parapsychology in northern India.
This event is sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center and co-sponsored by the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute.
How can India take advantage of data to achieve its developmental objectives while balancing the need for personal privacy? The recently implemented Account Aggregator framework tries to establish a digital consent architecture to allow post-collection transfers of data. This will unlock a number of financial models to serve those who are not currently part of the formal banking systems. But at the same time, this can have a serious impact on personal privacy. A similar model is being attempted in the health system, and that too has similar repercussions. The speakers on this panel will delve into the interplay between data transfer and personal privacy in both the financial and healthcare systems.
Rahul Matthan, Partner, Trilegal, India
I. Glenn Cohen, James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
Moderator: Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, the Mittal Institute
This event is co-sponsored by The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.
This seminar will focus on scientific advancements in research on human health and agriculture in India and the vision of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) in this field. TIGS is a collaborative research institution that aims to improve health security and food security for India. Dr. Suresh Subramani, Global Director at TIGS and Tata Chancellor’s Chair at University of California, San Diego, will discuss efforts by the Institute to enhance the capacity of scientists to conduct innovative research in genetics in India. Research at TIGS focuses on developing alternative control methods for vector-borne diseases, developing better crops with higher productivity, and finding technological means to alleviate the global issue of antibiotic resistance.
This seminar is delivered in coordination with Harvard Global Research Support Centre India.
Speaker: Suman Bery, former chief economist, Shell Corporation
Moderator: Rohit Chandra, Ph.D. candidate, Harvard Kennedy School
Suman Bery will present some of the results and larger ideas of a joint study conducted by Shell and various Indian think tanks about potential scenarios for India’s energy future. He will discuss India’s energy mix, constraints and possibilities on its evolution, and some tools India has to pursue different energy strategies over the next 20 to 30 years. Suman Bery was until recently Shell’s Chief Economist, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. He is currently a Nonresident Fellow of the Brussels think-tank Bruegel, as well as a Senior Fellow of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. He is now based in New Delhi.
Fahad Javed, Aman Fellow, Harvard South Asia Institute
Discussant: Afreen Siddiqi, Visiting Scholar, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Feed-in-tariffs to support solar photovoltaic (PV) cells deployment for home consumers has been one of the most actively supported policy measure across the globe for a greener, more resilient, and cost effective electric grid. However, as experience in some of the leading nations in solar PV deployment has shown, faulty tariff design may be very costly for all the stakeholders and sometimes result in detrimental outcomes. Understanding how this policy will impact the consumers and the grid operations is of significant importance. Incidentally, feed-in-tariffs are being considered and offered in different regions in developing world including South Asia. To this end in this talk we discuss how energy demand simulations based on socio-economic realities of the region can be used to evaluate the impact of feed-in-tariffs on the electric grids. Furthermore, we discuss how such simulations can aid policy makers in improving the impact of policy measures, such as tax rebates etc., through better visibility provided by simulations of consumer behavior.
Chair: Ignacio Perez-Arriaga, Visiting professor, MIT; Professor and Director of the BP Chair on Sustainable Development, Comillas University
Gram Oorja Solutions Private Limited (www.gramoorja.in), founded in 2007, has worked in over 120 remote villages of India, providing electricity, drinking water and cooking fuel to tribal communities. A key feature of the work has been the sustainability of these projects, with local communities taking over the management, tariff collection duties and ownership of these projects. Anshuman, a co-founder of the company, will share his experiences with the company.
This summer, with support from Harvard’s President’s Innovation Fund for International Experiences, SAI ran an8-week summer program in India for Harvard College students to explore the potential of mobile technology to enable economic and social mobility, which combined academic coursework and experiential learning. The program culminated in a final project, which the students will present on campus at this interactive event, with feedback from the faculty leaders.
Diane Jung, Human Development and Regenerative Biology, Harvard College ‘17
Kais Khimji,Social Studies, Harvard College, ‘17
Pradeep Niroula,Government, Harvard College ‘18
Eshaan Patheria, Applied Math & Computer Science, Harvard College ‘18
Satchit Balsari, FXB Research Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; Director, Weill Cornell Medical College Global Emergency Medicine Program
Malavika Jayaram, Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore
Tarun Khanna,Director of the South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
JP Onnela, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
Jairam Ramesh, Economist, Member of the Indian National Congress, Fisher Family Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
Ramesh is a Fisher Family Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project and a leader in international climate negotiations. A Member of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh, Ramesh was chief negotiator for India at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 to 18 December 2009. He has been a leading figure in international climate diplomacy for years.
Ramesh was the Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development under Prime Minister Singh from 2011-2014. Previously, he was named Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2011. He held numerous high-level government posts, including the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests from 2009-2011; Union Minister of State for Commerce and Power from 2008-2009 and Union Minister of State for Commerce from 2006-2009.