The Harvard-US India Initiative Conference 2015

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

The Harvard-US India Initiative, an undergraduate organisation at Harvard University, hosted its  largest youth conference at Shangri La, New Delhi on the 9th and 10th January 2015.

The conference observed keynotes by Mr. Piyush Goyal, Mr. Jayant Sinha, Mr. Jairam Ramesh and Dr. Mirai Chatterjee. From public intellectuals to economists to artists, the panelists offered constructive ideas on how the Indian youth might construct the narrative of our country. The aim was to churn out people who are constantly challenging established patterns of thinking. The Organization Committee selected 375 delegates from college students to high school students to corporate professionals from all across the country and invited panelists who are visionaries and leaders in their respective fields.

The conference was inaugurated by the lighting of lamp by Shri Jairam Ramesh followed by a keynote by him where he called upon the students to recommit to the democratic principles of India’s founding. The delegates were to attend 6 panels out of the 25 panels offered. The themes of these panels were Education, Politics, Culture, Society, Economics and Going Ahead. The sub panels under all these panels were held simultaneously.

Under Education, the speakers were the likes of Amit Ranjan (Founder, Slideshare) and Pramarth Sinha (Founder, Ashoka University, Founding Dean, ISB). Where on one hand, the students were engaged in deliberations on the scope and importance of liberal arts in the holistic development of a student, on the other hand the delegates and panellists exchanged views and ideas to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in colleges.

In Politics, Manish Sisodia discussed the viability of a non-BJP, non-Congress Indian government. In the discussion on “Talking Politics”, MP Scindia said, “The problem with India is that politicians over-commit and under-perform. We need to start under-committing and over-performing.”


In Culture, the delegates got to interact with esteemed panellists like Nandita Das, Mark Tully (Former Bureau Chief, BBC), Chiki Sarkar and Tarun Tahiliani who discussed a multitude of topics including the viability of arts as a career choice in India and ways in which India can preserve its unique cultural heritage. The delegates also consulted with the speakers on Section 377 and on the challenges faced by the professional women in India under the Society panel. The panel on Economics hosted esteemed economists who conducted simulating discussions on India’s economic policies. The conference also invited Vikram Dutt and Professor HC Verma as panellists for Going Ahead.

The organizing team, a group of undergraduates at Harvard, also hosted Career fairs in between the panels where they shared their experience as international students and answered all related queries.

Apart from all these discussions, the conference also invited essays and photographs. However, the most interesting and challenging of the competitions was the “Social Impact Challenge” where the delegates were called upon to contribute to the society and create a tangible social impact in a span of two weeks. From campaigns like ‘Donors are Heroes’ to other projects aimed at uplifting the under privileged, the best project was selected. Harry Kapoor, a fresher at SRCC was part of the group who won this challenge.

Speaking for all the delegates, I can safely say that we had the most inspiring, exciting and encouraging two days and we all are passionate to take these lessons forward. The conference ended on a beautiful note when each of the delegates present, were given #PayItForward bands. Disha Verma, a senior at Harvard and the President of the conference explained, that when any of the delegates, took an initiative for the betterment of the society and were successful in creating an ‘impact’, she/he was to pass on the band to someone else,making the others realize the true essence of the band. Thus, giving birth to a legacy.




Surbhi Arora
[email protected]

Image credits: Abhijeet Vyas, Keshav Padia



A Wall Street wannabe, I'm currently in my final year of Economics Honours. I enjoy reading American and Indian poetry, contemporary political fiction and autobiographies. I can be reached at [email protected]. Or you can send me a tweet @soysurbhi

Comments are closed.