Water Future of South Asia: Divided by borders, connected by rivers – May 9, 2017

Tuesday 7 pm, May 9, 2017

Room 2-146

Speaker: Jayanta Bandyopadhyay

Jayanta Bandyopadhya, environmental activist and professor, author of fourteen critically acclaimed books, is the former head of the Center for Development and Environment Policy at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.

The Himalaya is the climate maker and water tower of Asia. Himalayan rivers feed the large economies of Bangladesh, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. About 3 billion people depend on waters from the Himalaya. The rivers are diverse and feed into the lives and livelihood of vast populations in the countries of South Asia – peaceful sharing of water across boundaries is therefore imperative.

Following the Look East policy of the Government of India, attention has been focused on the Brahmaputra and future options for its governance. Challenges include floods and erosion; hydro-power projects, possible transfer of water outside the basin, water-based transportation, and ecosystem services in all parts of the basin.

A trans-boundary organization among Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India is proposed for future governance of the Brahmaputra sub-basin.

Organized by:

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

The South Asia Forum at MIT
Women’s and Gender Studies at MIT

Bangladesh and the Politics of Rights – Feb 19, 2017

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia


Bangladesh and the Politics of Rights

A talk by Sara Hossain

Sunday 2 PM, February 19, 2017
77 Mass Ave
Room 4-231

Bangladesh made significant strides in a number of areas since its emergence as a country in 1971, but its achievements have been marred by political instability and the suppression of civil and human rights. Attacks on workers, critics, and political opponents by state forces have seen a steady rise through different administrations. The latter meanwhile has failed to protect bloggers, publishers, and minorities from attacks by religious extremists. Often the only recourse to persecuted individuals and groups has been the work of independent lawyers, activists, and groups.

Sara Hossain has consistently challenged discriminatory laws against women and secular activists, including “fatwa”s issued to mete out degrading and violent punishments to women and girls. She is a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an honorary executive director of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST). Her awards include the 2016 International Women of Courage Award, the Ananya Top Ten Leading Women Award in 2005, and the Human Rights Lawyer Award by The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First).


Women’s and Gender Studies Program
South Asia Forum at MIT

Book Presentation: Bil’in and The Nonviolent Resistance – Dec 1, 2016

Iyad Burnat

Thursday, December 1, 2016
7:00 PM @ Friends Meeting House 5 LongFellow Park, Cambridge, MA

Book Presentation: Bil’in and The Nonviolent Resistance

Iyad Burnat is the coordinator for the Popular Committee in Bil’in, Palestine. For 10 years, Iyad and the Popular Committee of this small village have held weekly non-violent demonstrations against the confiscation of their land. They have repeatedly been met with violence by the Israeli military. Iyad is coming to the Boston area to describe what life is like under Israeli occupation, his village’s ongoing struggle for justice and freedom, and what inspires him to continue non-violent resistance.

Iyad is the winner of the 2015 James Lawson Award for Achievement bestowed by the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict during its summer institute at Tufts University.

Sponsored by:
United for Peace with Justice

Cosponsors: Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia; Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine; American Friends Service Committee; Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights; Friends of Sabeel – New England Chapter; Interfaith Peace-Builders; Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston

What the Fields Remember – Oct 8, 2016

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

Invites you to a screening of the film – What the Fields Remember

Room 3-133
MIT Saturday October 8, 3 PM, 2016

On 18th February 1983, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, more than 2000 Muslims were killed in the town of Nellie and its surrounding villages in Assam, India. People’s homes were burnt down and their fields destroyed. Most of those who died were old people, women, and children. To date the Nellie massacre remains on the margins of India’s public history and is virtually wiped out from the nation’s collective memory.

The documentary film What the Fields Remember revisits the massacre three decades later. From the survivors’ – Sirajuddin Ahmed and Abdul Khayer – a retelling of the event, and their struggles of coping with loss and memories that refuse to fade away, the film attempts to explore ideas of violence, memory, and justice. What the Fields Remember also attempts to raise larger questions around collective memory – of what we choose to remember and why we choose to forget.


Followed by Q&A with director Subasri Krishnan

Subasri has been a filmmaker for more than a decade. She also heads the Media Lab of the Indian Institute for Human Settlement (IIHS). Her documentary films deal with contemporary politics. Her first documentary film “Brave New Medium” on internet censorship in South-­‐East Asia, has been screened at film festivals, both nationally and internationally.

Governance for Development: Political and Administrative Reforms for Bangladesh

Sponsored by CGIS/Harvard
Supported by the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

Governance for Development: Political and Administrative Reforms for Bangladesh

by Dr. Nazrul Islam

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
4:00 pm, Friday, September 30
CGIS South S354,
1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

Governance problems are possibly the main constraint on the realization of the socio-economic potential of Bangladesh. Based on his recently published book, Governance for Development: Political and Administrative Reforms for Bangladesh (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016), Dr. Nazrul Islam will present an analysis of Bangladesh’s governance problems and discuss some reform options for the electoral process and of the civil service in Bangladesh.

About the Speaker

Nazrul Islam is currently a Senior Economic Affairs Officer at the United National Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Previously, he taught economics at Dhaka University (Bangladesh), Emory University (USA), and Kyushu University (Japan). He has published eleven books and numerous articles in reputed international journals. His most recent book is Economies in Transition: China, Russia, and Vietnam, published by Eastern Academic. Dr. Islam is also the founder of Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) and is playing a leading role in the environmental movement of Bangladesh.

Call by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union for an international day of protest on March 2nd, 2016

Responding to the call by the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Students’ Union for an international day of protest on March 2nd, the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia invites you to join a vigil:

Harvard Square “T” stop, Cambridge MA
Wednesday 7 PM – March 2, 2016

Please bring candles, signs, songs, chants…and please spread the word!


In response to an event organized on 9th February against the execution of Afzal Guru, Delhi Police have arrested The JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar on charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy, largely based on false and doctored video evidence. Subsequently, other student leaders from JNU have been arrested and sedition charges brought against political leaders speaking in support of Mr. Kumar. Indian citizens, expatriates, academics, and activists from around the world have condemned the growing intolerance and attack on free speech by the current BJP Government. Several statements in support of the JNU students have been released, one including leading scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Orham Pamuk, and Akeel Bilgrami censuring the “shameful act of the Indian Government” in invoking an outdated sedition law from the colonial era to silence critics.



Development and Dispossession: The Indian Case

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
“Development and Dispossession: The Indian Case”
March 12th, 2PM, MIT 2-105
Prof. Amit Bhaduri

Amit Bhaduri is an economist and a consistent critic of mainstream neoclassical economic theory. He exposes its logically flawed foundations – including ‘corporate-led growth strategies’ and ‘developmental terrorism’, ideas that have emerged in India and other developing countries in the wake of globalization.

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

March 13th, 2PM, MIT 2-105
Film: Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai, by Nakul Singh Sawhney
followed by Q & A with the director

In his film “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai”, documentarian Nakul Singh Sawhney examines the 2013 communal riots in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar districts of western Uttar Pradesh, India, in which antagonism between local Hindu Jats and Muslims were fomented by BJP to gain a political foothold in the area before the 2014 Parliamentary elections. The director of the film himself will be present for Q and A after the show.