Awarded through the Mittal Foundation, the gift will establish a fund in support of faculty research and student study, as well as the efforts of a global academic community to better understand the unique challenges faced by the many countries and diverse populations in the region. Founded in 2003, the South Asia Initiative became a university-wide interdisciplinary institute in 2010 and now serves as a nexus for the Harvard community's engagement with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as diaspora populations from those countries.
The institute, which will be renamed the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, currently engages more than two hundred and fifty faculty from a variety of disciplines across the university and peer institutions; provides annual funding for more than fifty students to participate in research, internships, and immersive language study; supports postdoctoral fellowships; hosts visiting artists; sponsors lectures, conferences, and leadership training in the region and on campus; and works with government, academic, and civil society organizations in-region, especially through its local offices in India and Pakistan.
"South Asia has played a dynamic and influential role in the development of our world since the very first civilizations," said Mittal, chair and CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company. "Ensuring that we fully understand its history and unique dynamics is a critical enabler in helping to shape a successful future."
"International centers like the South Asia Institute at Harvard University serve as a vital conduit between the university and the world we study," said Harvard president Drew Faust. "The generous support from the Mittal family is a testament to both the important work being done by this community of scholars and students and the continuing impact it will have in the region."