“By enabling scholars from South Asia to work in a cross-disciplinary fashion with faculty, researchers, and students across Harvard on critical questions and issues related to the region, Sharma’s gift will significantly enhance the goals of the Institute to deepen the teaching and research on significant cultural and global issues related to South Asia,” a statement said.
The “gift” from Sharma will support the activities and research performed by LMSAI, it added.
University Provost Alan Garber said “through his (Sharma’s) generosity, he has affirmed our shared commitment to advancing cross-disciplinary research and learning in our interconnected world. His vision for a more collaborative future has never been timelier. We are proud to partner with him,” Garber added.
Vice Provost for International Affairs Mark Elliott said further expanding Harvard’s work and partnerships in India is a major priority for the University.
“This fund, which will provide leading South Asian scholars in all fields with new opportunities to pursue their research at Harvard, will bring benefits to them and their home institutions as well as to the Harvard community.
“In this way, this new program will do much to strengthen and broaden the kinds of academic connections we depend upon to help deepen our engagement with South Asian partners and to advance our academic mission globally,” he added.
Sharma, who founded Paytm in August 2010, has played an instrumental role in developing the mobile payments and digital financial services ecosystem in India. Paytm counts Alibaba, Ant Group, Softbank and Berkshire Hathaway as its shareholders.
“I believe that good education can change an individual’s life in the most profound ways. My father, who was a teacher, believed that the world can be positively changed through education. His teachings are my inspiration to make this contribution to Harvard University,” Sharma said.
He added that Harvard’s integrity, diversity, and commitment to excellence are exemplary.
“I hope this gift will help future leaders attain the global vision that would help in transforming the lives of millions for the better in India and beyond,” Sharma said.
Tarun Khanna, Director of LMSAI and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, said the number of interdisciplinary programs and fellowships offered at the Mittal Institute continue to increase, welcoming scholars of South Asia to share their research and partner with Harvard’s faculty and students.
“Thanks to Vijay’s generosity, we move closer to a critical mass of diverse perspectives and ideas at the Institute that deepen the world’s understanding of South Asia, from all disciplines and angles,” he added.
Each year, the Mittal Institute supports the research endeavours of numerous scholars from South Asia, providing them with opportunities to interact with Harvard’s faculty, students, and larger community for knowledge-sharing and the potential formation of new research partnerships.