Celebrate the start of the school year with the South Asia Institute!
Presented by the South Asia Across Disciplines Workshop
Mrinalini Sinha, Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History; Professor (by courtesy) of English and Women’s Studies; Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows (2015-), University of Michigan
Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Professor of History
Mou Banerjee, PhD Candidate, Dept. of History, Harvard University
Cosponsored by the South Asia Across Disciplines Workshop and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute
The indentured labor system, which had been put in place in the aftermath of Atlantic slavery to replace emancipated African slaves with indentured Indians on colonial plantations overseas, came under widespread attack by the early decades of the 20th century. M.K. Gandhi’s involvement in the movement for the abolition of indenture, or what following the abolition of Atlantic slavery has been called the “second abolition,” helped launch his political career in India. Yet the campaign against indenture occupies an obscure and undigested role in the scholarship on Gandhi and on modern India. What might it mean to restore abolitionism to its role in the advent of Gandhi’s career in India? What might abolitionism tell us about Gandhi’s signature concepts of swaraj and satyagraha? This talk will shed light on the abolition movement in India and explore its implications for understanding Gandhi’s politics.
Tarunabh Khaitan, Associate Professor and Hackney Fellow in Law, Wadham College, University of Oxford
Chair: Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
Borrowing and developing the concept from Ireland, framers of India’s Constitution inserted a chapter titled ‘directive principles of state policy’ in the founding document. They were a mix of principles aimed at securing what they called an ‘economic democracy’, some guarantees we now call ‘social rights’ and some other curiosities like an exhortation for prohibition and a ban on cow slaughter. These were directed at the political organs of the state and made expressly non-justiciable. Despite being derided by scholars and lawyers as ‘mere pious wishes’ and ‘design flaws’, and (largely) rejected by post-Apartheid South Africa after due consideration, they have been adopted by at least 24 constitutions in Asia and Africa, including very recently by the latest Nepalese Constitution of 2015. India’s cultural influence on these jurisdictions, mostly in the global South, does not seem to provide sufficient explanation for their continued popularity with constitution makers.
Most of the existing scholarship on directive principles has focused on how courts have used these principles, their non-justiciability notwithstanding. In this paper, Khaitan focus on their political character. First, he uses India as a case-study to argue that directive principles are an important tool for successful constitution-making. He identifies the reasons why they became attractive to the framers of the Indian Constitution, and far from being mere pious wishes, they performed important and distinct political functions for the framers. Second, Khaitan shows that insofar as they impose political duties on the state, these duties have a conditional character: their substantive obligatory force becomes manifest only after certain preconditions inherent in reasons for their adoption as directive principles are satisfied. Extrapolating from these Indian findings, he speculates that non-justiciable conditional political duties have particular salience for postcolonial pluralistic societies in the global South seeking to establish a transformative constitutional culture.
Over a year after Nepal’s earthquake, this conference brings together practitioners, policy-makers, academics, students, and experts in disaster response to examine the importance of risk mitigation, and to discuss the role of development partners, aid accountability and the role of the media in disaster response.
The overarching objectives of this symposium are to share lessons from Nepal’s efforts in disaster preparedness, mitigation, management and reconstruction; and second, to foster dialogue and create links between lessons from other South Asian countries and Nepal’s experience in disaster response. To build relationships between the panelists, Harvard faculty members, Harvard students, and members of the Nepali community in Boston, several sessions including networking lunch, reception and dinner will be organized in addition to the panel discussions. At the end of the symposium, a final report which synthesizes the main ideas and recommendations will be prepared and circulated with the explicit intention of contributing to the existing conversation on building disaster resilient systems in South Asia.
The symposium is Harvard’s first international conference focused on Nepal and is organized by the Office of the Dean of the Harvard. T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and by Harvard Chan Students for Nepal, a student group of Nepali students who have campaigned to ensure the public health community can learn from Nepal’s response to the earthquake.
This course will provide a framework (and multiple lenses) through which to think about the salient economic and social problems of the five billion people of the developing world, and to work in a team setting toward identifying entrepreneurial solutions to such problems.
Harvard University will offer many courses with South Asia related content in the fall 2016 semester.
The Intern for the South Asia Institute will gain valuable insight and experience in the day-to-day operations of a vibrant and dynamic University-wide Initiative focused on advancing education and research on South Asia at Harvard.
The Communications and Outreach Intern will work with SAI’s Communications and Outreach Coordinator to help to maintain the SAI website and will help develop and distribute outreach and marketing materials, including social media, website posts, and the weekly newsletter.
In a webinar as part of the Livelihood Creation Project, Shantha Sinha, MV Foundation, and Jacqueline Bhabha, HSPH, HLS, HKS, discussed obstacles and challenges that girls face when pursuing education.
Speakers included Shri Akhilesh Yadav, Honorable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Harvard faculty, and Kumbh administrators.
While on campus, fellows will actively participate in the events and intellectual life of the Institute.
Sabeena Jalal, an alum of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and currently based in Karachi, has developed a blade to be used by midwives during childbirth to cut the umbilical cord. The blade does not get infected, so she hopes the tool can reduce the rate of infant mortality in developing countries.
Librarians at Harvard’s Widener Library have been working meticulously to process more than 22,000 volumes that have been acquired from Pakistan over the last 10 years.
Alumni of SAI’s Visiting Artist Program say the experience at Harvard was incredibly enriching for their work.
At a recent meeting of the Harvard Alumni Group of Nepal, Milan Rai, SAI’s Visiting Artist in April, discussed his White Butterfly project, which has spread to 40 countries and counting.
A study conducted by Asim Khwaja, Harvard Kennedy School, looked at how to strengthen the social compact between citizen and state – whereby a citizen pays taxes and receives public goods and services.
The fellowship supports recent PhDs and advanced professional degree holders in areas related to Pakistan, particularly areas of science and development.