Viewpoints: Kumbh Mela, Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity


Presented in collaboration with the Harvard South Asia Institute

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious fair that occurs every twelve years at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers on the plains of northern India. Since its inception early in the first millennium CE, the Kumbh Mela has become the largest public gathering in the world. Today it draws tens of millions of pilgrims over the course of a few weeks. The most recent observance of the festival took place from January 14 to February 25, 2013 in Allahabad, with an estimated attendance of over 80 million people.

Because of its size and complexity, the 2013 Kumbh Mela inspired the Harvard South Asia Institute’s flagship multi-year interdisciplinary research project in a number of complementary fields: business, technology and communications, urban studies and design, religious and cultural studies, and public health. Over fifty Harvard professors, students, administrative staff, and medical practitioners made the pilgrimage to Allahabad, India to analyze issues that emerge in any large-scale human gathering. Launched in 2015, the Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity book and exhibition consolidate research findings and serve as an example of interdisciplinary research conducted at Harvard.

This panel discussion will feature faculty leaders--representing Harvard Business School, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design--in discussion of their experience studying the world’s largest festival, and lessons learned for future research.

Speaker bios:

Tarun Khanna, Director of Harvard South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, where he has studied and worked with entrepreneurs and investors in emerging markets worldwide. He was named Harvard University's Director of the South Asia Institute in the fall of 2010. He joined the HBS faculty in 1993, after obtaining an engineering degree from Princeton University (1988) and a Ph.D. from Harvard (1993), and an interim stint on Wall Street. During this time, he has served as the head of several courses on strategy, corporate governance, and international business targeted to MBA students and senior executives at Harvard. He currently teaches in Harvard College's undergraduate General Education core curriculum in a University-wide elective course on entrepreneurship in developing countries, and in HBS’ Owner/President Management executive education program. He is also the Faculty Chair for HBS activities in India and South Asia.

Dhruv Kazi, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Center for Healthcare Value at the University of California San Francisco; physician in the division of cardiology at San Francisco General Hospital
Dhruv Kazi is particularly interested in understanding and improving long-term clinical outcomes among patients with cardiovascular disease in the United States and overseas, as well as the optimization of health care expenditures to maximize societal value. He has co-founded heartMAP – a low-cost, data-driven program focused on improving medication adherence among low-literacy patients with advanced cardiovascular disease. heartMAP harnesses technology and real-time data analysis to treat and track patients on anticoagulation, using financial and non-financial incentives for stakeholder behavior modification. heartMap partners with Narayana Hospitals in Bangalore, India, a pioneer in using industrial systems design to dramatically reduce the cost of cardiovascular surgery, and the Center for Chronic Disease Control in New Delhi, India’s leading private-public partnership for research in non-communicable diseases.

Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Rahul Mehrotra is Professor of Urban Design and Planning and former Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design. He is a practicing architect, urban designer, and educator. His firm, RMA Architects, was founded in 1990 in Mumbai and has designed and executed projects for clients that include government and non-governmental agencies, corporate as well as private individuals and institutions.

Viewpoints is an annual series featuring prominent, visionary figures in the creative arts and is made possible by the generous support of Aashish and Dinyar S. Devitre.

Event Details

Fri 06 Nov 2015
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

725 Park Ave, New York, NY 10021
Buy Tickets
$10 members; $12 students/seniors; $15 nonmembers.
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