HBS Professor To Lead South Asia Initiative

Harvard Business School Professor Tarun Khanna recently assumed the position of director of the University’s South Asia Initiative.

Khanna, who has served on the Initiative’s steering committee since 2007, studies emerging markets in India and China and wrote the book “Billions of Entrepreneurs.”

He will be succeeding Sugata Bose, professor of oceanic history and affairs and the Initiative’s founding director. Khanna said Bose “made extraordinary contributions” in promoting awareness of South Asia’s history and culture.

“I am very excited, humbled, [and] somewhat blown-away” to become director and follow in Bose’s footsteps, Khanna said.

“Since its inception, Harvard’s South Asia Initiative has built strong foundations based on teaching and research partnerships,” Provost Steven E. Hyman told the Harvard Gazette. “Tarun’s extensive experience, thoughtfulness, and dedication will help him guide the initiative to new levels of success and engagement across the Harvard community.”

As the new director, Khanna said that he hopes to preserve many of his predecessor’s programs, including the “South Asia Without Borders” speaker series.

He will also work to expand existing study-abroad and research opportunities and make funding more easily accessible, he said.

After having a positive experience leading a freshman seminar entitled “Shaping Modern China and India” in the spring of 2008, Khanna said he hoped to encourage South Asia Initiative faculty members to teach more undergraduate courses.

He noted that Harvard already has well-established programs in Latin America and China but a comparatively “weaker investment in South Asia.”

He said he sees room for the Initiative to grow, calling it “a canvas” with which to take advantage of Southeast Asia’s “booming and exuberant culture.”

Since individual schools already have their own efforts in South Asia, Khanna said his goal is to facilitate “inter-faculty projects.”

“There is significant room for interdisciplinary efforts, especially in contemporary affairs regarding health issues or social entrepreneurship,” he said.

Jorge I. Dominguez, vice provost for international affairs, praised Khanna’s past work experience.

“Faculty colleagues from various schools who work in or about South Asia hold him in high regard,” Dominguez wrote in an e-mail.

Khanna also heads faculty oversight for Harvard Business School’s India Research Center. The dual appointment will allow the University to better coordinate efforts between the schools, Dominguez wrote.

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at

—Staff writer Helen X. Yang can be reached at