News about the Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies
at UC Berkeley - Fall 2016
Fall 2016
Dear Friends,
Welcome back to Berkeley. We hope you all had a fun and productive summer. 

This year, we begin our semester on a much more somber note. As most of you know, Tarishi Jain, a Cal student and a Chowdhury Center intern who had just completed her freshman year, died when attackers stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Berkeley community has expressed disbelief, anger, and an incredible amount of sorrow as we all mourn the senseless death of a young and vibrant student who had so much potential and so much to give. Subir Chowdhury, the founder of the Chowdhury Center characterized her death as, “…not just a loss for India or UC Berkeley, but a loss for the world.” Here at the ISAS, though we knew Tarishi only for a short time, we were immediately impressed by her focus, dedication, and passion for her work. By all accounts, she was a young woman who cared deeply about others and wanted to make a difference in the world.

I want to acknowledge two people--Sridevi Prasad and Waheed Baksh--who were also interns in Dhaka during the time of the attacks. They both showed incredible composure and resolve as news of the attacks slowly unfolded over several grueling hours. I am grateful to them for all that they did for Tarishi’s family, the Berkeley community, and for one another, during what had to be some of the most horrific moments of their lives.  

All of us involved with international programs have felt a tremendous sense of loss and grief over Tarishi’s death. To quote from Professor Lawrence Cohen’s moving statement released earlier this summer: "Part of the task of the university and of this Center is to understand with precision and rigor the conditions of this violence, in Dhaka and elsewhere in Bangladesh. Part of the task is to understand how current political and state responses, in Bangladesh specifically, may be tied up to the escalating attacks…These are our times, and we must mourn with awareness…The challenge for the Chowdhury Center and for the Institute for South Asia Studies, the challenge for all who mourn the violent and cruel loss of Tarishi Jain and of her friends, is to understand far better than we do the specters of our times and how we must struggle to respond.” (For a full transcript of Lawrence Cohen's statement, click link on sidebar or see here)

Here at the Chowdhury Center, we realize that it is even more urgent that we continue to do the work that we do, to continue with our programs, fellowships, research, and exchanges intended to understand conditions, responsibility, accountability and responses. We mourn Tarishi and all of those who have lost their lives in senseless acts of violence throughout the world and we dedicate our programs to them.

We organized a small healing ritual in memory of Tarishi which took place during our Annual Reception on Wednesday, September 7 from 4 to 6 pm. This guided moment of reflection was led by Sarwang Parikh, a mental healthcare specialist. Berkeley News covered the event. Please click HERE for a link to the article or see box on right. 

Our first major event this semester is a lecture on Thu, September 15 by Ashok Gadgil, the celebrated UC Berkeley scientist and innovator behind several recent technology innovations that have the potential to improve the lives of tens - possibly hundreds - of millions of people among the poorest two billion on the planet. Dr. Gadgil's Chowdhury Center lecture will focus on Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR), a life-changing innovation which affordably removes arsenic from groundwater supplies used for drinking water in Bangladesh and neighboring regions. (See box on right for further details). In fact, one of our interns in Bangladesh this summer, Waheed Baksh, was there to study ECAR for its suitability and rapid adaption in Bangladesh.

In conjunction with Dr. Gadgil's talk, the Chowdhury Center is coming out with a new South Asia Research Notes (SARN). Titled "Engineering for Change," it is a summary of Dr. Gadgil's work on providing safe drinking water to the people of Bangladesh, India, and their neighboring regions. (Please click on the box on the right to read it.)

Our other interns, Amena Jannat worked at BLAST conducting legal research on international & comparative law. Sridevi Prasad interned at Independent University, Bangladesh and spent her summer analyzing the quality of various pasteurized and raw milk samples that are sold in Dhaka. Her supervisor, Dr. Rita Yusuf (Dean, School of Life Sciences, IUB) had the following to say for her, "You are an amazing individual -- strong and committed. Thank you for all the work you did. You contributed enormously in the short time that you were here." More on Devi's internship experience here

Chowdhury Center events this semester include:
In the future we hope to invite several authors and distinguished guests, including authors Zia Rahman, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Salil Tripathi, human rights advocate Sara Hossain, and economist Naila Kabeer.
For those of you who were not able to attend our Spring events, please visit the Videos section on our website to view videos and podcasts of past programs. Recently added are Rubana Huq, Sewing Power, and Amartya Sen.

As part of the Center's focus on creating opportunities for collaborative research between UC Berkeley and universities in Bangladesh, the Chowdhury Center in partnership with the American Institute for Bangladesh Studies (AIBS) and the US Embassy in Dhaka will be hosting eight faculty members from top universities in Bangladesh to participate in a program focused on academic writing and publishing this October. This program will bring eight faculty members from Bangladeshi institutions of higher education to be in residence for one week at the Chowdhury Center, where they will take part in workshops on research methodologies, writing, and the publishing process led by UC Berkeley faculty. Faculty will arrive in Berkeley on October 11th and be in residence for one week. After the week at Berkeley, Bangladeshi faculty will travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the annual South Asia Conference where they will attend a pre-conference and present their papers in progress. The final product, as a result of this workshop, will be an academic paper that can be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
There are many opportunities to support the work of the Chowdhury Center! Contact Sanchita Saxena if you are interested in supporting our internship program, visiting scholar program, or our faculty training program. 
We look forward to seeing you at one of our events this semester!

Sanchita Saxena
Director, Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies

The Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, the first such center focused on Bangladesh in the United States, champions the study of Bangladesh’s economy, politics, society, art, and culture. Read more here

Engineering for Change

Ashok Gadgil and his team of researchers provide arsenic & flouride-free safe drinking water in Bangladesh, India and vicinity by inventing affordable and sustainable technologies

Ali Riaz
Bangladesh: A Political History since Independence

Tuesday, October 18
5-7 p.m.
10 Stephens Hall

3rd i’s 13th Annual SF International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond

Special focus this year on Naeem Mohaimen's trilogy on politics and the revolution in Bangladesh in the 1970s.

The 2016 Subir & Malini Chowdhury Center Distinguished Lecture: 

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Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley · 10 Stephens Hall · Berkeley, CA 94720 · USA

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