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The Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. 

About SAI | View the South Asia Institute video 

Upcoming Events

Tue, October 21, 2014 at 06:30pm to
Thu, October 23, 2014 at 06:30pm  /  Harvard Graduate School of Design

The Secret Life of Cities

Urbanization Lecture Series

Series of Lectures with Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

Tuesday, Oct. 21: “Migration: Storytelling the City(6:30PM, Piper Auditorium GSD)
The worldwide stampede to urban areas has produced a set of narratives about the city; dislocation demands recollection. What are the official and unofficial stories of our cities? How do they attract migrants? The mystery of the self as it relates to the mystery of the city. 

Wednesday, Oct. 22: “Alienation: The Sadness of Cities” (6:30PM, Piper Auditorium GSD)
Each city has its own sadness: loneliness, inequality, slums. After we have stayed in a city awhile, it becomes mapped with love, experienced and lost. The conjunctions between poetry and urbanism.

Thursday, Oct. 23: Community: What is the City but the People?(6:30PM, Stubbins 112, Gund Hall GSD)
Cities can be resilient not just in their physical structure but in their spirit. In the absence of a functioning government, they survive through a series of solidarity networks that sustain the populace, small solutions for the big city. What role does the state have in fostering them? How do we fashion a city that may not include everybody, but excludes nobody?

What is the city but the people?” asks Shakespeare in Coriolanus.

In this series of lectures, writer Suketu Mehta looks at the urban human being, exploring themes of migration, loneliness, and community in the world’s cities. Mehta is author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has won the Whiting Writers Award and an O. Henry Prize for his essays and fiction, which have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper’s, Time, and Newsweek, and featured on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “All Things Considered.” Mehta is currently working on a book about immigrants in contemporary New York, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Both venues are in Gund Hall, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy St, Cambridge MA

Cosponsored with the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 06:30pm

Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 06:30pm

Harvard Graduate School of Design
Harvard University

48 Quincy St,
Cambridge, MA

Tue, October 28, 2014 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S250

CANCELLED: South Asia Without Borders Seminar

This event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

South Asia Without Borders Seminar

Sukhadeo Thorat, Professor of Economics, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Chair: Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Affiliated Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design, International Coordinator,  WIEGO Network


Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 04:00pm

Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 05:30pm

CGIS South, S250
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA

    Wed, October 29, 2014 from 04:30pm - 06:00pm  /  CGIS South, S050

    Gender and Violence: New research from Roma and Pakistan

    Gender Seminar

    Jennifer Leaning, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights; Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

    Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer, Harvard Law School; University Adviser on Human Rights Education; Director of Research, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

    Sharlene Swartz, Visiting Fellow, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Right; Research Director, Human and Social Development, Human Sciences Research Council;  Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town

    Brian Heilman, Gender and Evaluation Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women.

    Cosponsored by the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights (FXB), Harvard School of Public Health, and Academic Ventures, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.


    Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 04:30pm

    Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 06:00pm

    CGIS South, S050
    Harvard University

    1730 Cambridge Street
    Cambridge MA

      Thu, October 30, 2014 from 04:00pm - 05:30pm  /  CGIS South, S153

      Powerplay: Teacher Transfers in India

      SAI Education Seminar

      Tara Beteille, World Bank

      Chair: Akshay ManglaAssistant Professor, Harvard Business School

      This paper provides a detailed account of how the system of teacher transfers operates in large parts of India. It presents evidence to suggest that teacher transfers form the bedrock of a patronage-based low-accountability school system. Politicians need teachers because teachers are politically powerful and can convincingly threaten them with electoral sabotage. This deters politicians from adopting strict teacher accountability policies. Knowing how powerful teachers can be in the collective, politicians attempt to control the behavior of individual teachers through patronage-based transfers. But reality is not as neat and clean, and it is difficult to point fingers at specific politicians, else the task of accountability might have been easier. This happens because of the profusion of middlemen, who promise to connect teachers to politicians. Middlemen sometimes fabricate instances of bribery, preying on informational asymmetries and an institutionalized belief in corruption. They generate a system of beliefs regarding corruption in transfers that becomes self-fulfilling. Grim as the situation may appear, the paper offers hope based upon the recent experience of two states in India.

      Cosponsored with the International Education Policy Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

      Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 04:00pm

      Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 05:30pm

      CGIS South, S153
      Harvard University

      1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

      Fri, October 31, 2014 - Sun, November 2, 2014  /  Brown University

      Love, War & Other Longings

      Pakistani Film Festival

      Cosponsored by the Brown University India Initiative   

      Fri Oct 31: Hallow’s Eve: Chainsaw Spatter
      6:00 pm Zibaah Khana (77minutes)

      Sat Nov 1: Saint’s Day: Directors in Conversation
      11:20 am A Brief History of Pakistani Cinema
      Lecture by Iftikhar Dadi
      12:00 pm Josh (104 minutes)
      2:00 pm Q+A with Josh Director, Iram Parveen Bilal
      3:00 pm Lunch
      4:15 pm Zinda Bhaag (120 minutes)
      6:30 pm Q+A with Zinda Bhaag Director Meenu Gaur &
      Producer Mazhar Zaidi
      7:30 pm Reception

      Sun Nov 2: Bloody Sunday: Contexts of War
      10:00 am Panel Discussion: Bollywood and Hollywood; Betwixt & Beyond
      Ramyar Rossoukh, Richard Delacy, Kamran Ali
      11:30 am Waar (140 min)
      2:00 pm Discussion on Waar
      3:30 pm Roundtable Screen Stories & the Lives of Others

      There will be a free shuttle from Harvard Square. to Brown on Nov1st.

      Join the Facebook event for more information.

      Fri, Oct 31, 2014

      Sun, Nov 2, 2014

      Brown University

      Martinos Auditorium, Granoff Center, 154 Angell Street
      Providence, Rhode Island 02906 USA

      Sun, November 2, 2014 from 05:00pm - 07:00pm  /  Harvard Memorial Church

      Music Stories of Bengal

      SAI Community Event

      An evening with:
      Folk Minstrel Paban Das Baul; Poet and songwriter Prthwiraj Choudhury; Author Mimlu Sen; and Music producer Dipankar Jojo Chaki

      ‘Music Stories of Bengal’ is an experiment in bringing live Bengali music of various genres together. This Project is the brainchild of Dipankar Jojo Chaki, Indian National Award Winning Music Producer.

      Paban is a world famous Indian folk singer based in Paris. Paban belongs to the ‘Baul’ tradition of Indian folk singers. He collaborates with musicians from around the world and has developed a new genre of Baul music called ‘Afro-Baul’. His most popular album was titled ‘Real Sugar’ and was launched by Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records in London. He has performed in venues around the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival and the ‘Nine Lives’ Concert, 2009 in London, of William Dalrymple. He has contributed to several film soundtracks including the popular song ‘Shundori Komola’ from the film Shukno Lonka.

      Popular song by Paban Das Baul

      Prithwiraj Choudhury is a Harvard Professor and singer/songwriter/poet. He has published four books of poetry, most recently the book ‘Kotha Com’ published by Signet Press (Ananda Publishers).

      Song written, composed and sung by Choudhury

      Purbo Paschim by Choudhury 

      Mimlu Sen is the author of the book ‘Baulsphere’ that documents the lives of the Baul musicians. While living in France, Mimlu Sen witnessed a performance by the Bauls, a group of wandering mystic-minstrels from West Bengal. Captivated by the music and by one of the musicians in particular, she returned to the country of her childhood: “yearning for the deep familiar breath of India”.

      Tickets will be sold for $10 at the event, and can also be reserved ahead of time by calling Mandrita at 203-524-7658.

      Free parking at 52 Oxford Street.

      Join the Facebook event.

      Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 05:00pm

      Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 07:00pm

      Harvard Memorial Church (Harvard Yard)

      Harvard Memorial Church (Harvard Yard), Cambridge, MA

      Mon, November 3, 2014 at 04:15pm  /  Tozzer Anthropology Building

      Building Stories: Speculation and Reconstruction in Contemporary Mumbai

      South Asia Without Borders Seminar

      Vyjayanthi Rao, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

      Chair: Asad Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Social Anthropology Program, Harvard University

      Cosponsored by the Harvard University Social Anthropology Colloquium

      Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 04:15pm

      Mon, Nov 3, 2014

      Tozzer Anthropology Building, Room 203

      21 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA

      Mon, November 3, 2014 from 06:00pm - 07:30pm  /  CGIS South, S010

      Unique Biometric ID: Creating a Large Scale Digital Ecosystem Using the Aadhaar Experience

      SAI Mahindra Lecture

      Nandan NilekaniFormer Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India; Co-founder of Infosys; Author of ‘Imagining India’

      Reception to follow.


      Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 06:00pm

      Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 07:30pm

      CGIS South, S010

      1730 Cambridge Street
      Cambridge, MA


      SAI Research Affiliates, 2014-2015

      The SAI Research Affiliates Program supports researchers and faculty each year at Harvard whose area of interest is South Asia. Research Affiliates contribute to the academic study of South Asia on campus by bringing their expertise on a wide range of issues to the University.

        Oct 24-26: Harvard Asian American Alumni Summit

        The Inaugural Summit in 2010 drew more than 400 students, faculty, staff and alumni—from seven decades, multiple continents and all of Harvard’s schools—for a weekend ofnew connections, new ideas and fun. Register for the 2014 Summit now before events sell out, as they did last time!