Regional Alumni News letter on Covid-19

     Dear HAA Asia-Pacific Club Leaders,                                                                            July 1st, 2020


We hope you are all well, and staying safe. We hope that our first newsletter sent out to all Clubs in the Asia Pacific Region was informative and highlighted some resources from Harvard University that were beneficial for you to read.


Continuing the latest initiative of newsletters from the HAA Directors of the Asia Pacific region, this month, we are highlighting the work done by two of our Alumni Clubs: the Harvard Club of India and the Harvard Club of Indonesia.


As many countries struggle to fight the plethora of ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, alumni members of these two Clubs really stood out in their contribution towards their country being able to cope with COVID-19’s effects, especially on the most vulnerable sections of their respective societies.


In addition, we are also highlighting the “Best of Harvard”. For this newsletter, we have curated content from the Harvard schools mentioned below. We hope that you find these resources interesting and useful.


Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Kennedy School

Harvard Kennedy School



We hope you find our curated resource helpful. It would be great if you could share the information with your members and also perhaps draw inspiration to drive greater community service in your respective Clubs.


Stay positive and be safe!



Lisa Ray Hennessy

HAA Director for Australasia       

Carol Dominguez

HAA Director for South East Asia


Theresa Cho

HAA Director for East Asia          


Anirudh Suri

HAA Director for South Asia





As the public health and economic crisis hit countries around the world, two Harvard alumni communities really stepped up to assist their respective countries’ efforts in the fight against COVID-19: The Harvard Club of India, and the Harvard Club of Indonesia.


The Harvard Club of India:


The Harvard Club of India, but really, the Harvard alumni community in India, took it upon themselves to assist in various aspects of the fight against COVID-19. The Harvard Club of India’s Whatsapp Group – which includes alumni from all over the country, working in the public, private and non-profit sectors – became the hub for hectic activity.


The most impactful work of Harvard alumni in India lay in helping workers in cities go to their homes in rural India. With uncertainty around the lockdown, and the economic and social impact of it, thousands of workers started moving back to their homes in rural India from the cities they had been living and working in. This mass movement, without a clear policy framework for their movement, created the possibility of several humanitarian disasters. Harvard Alumni immediately stepped up, and started getting together to help rural migrants moving back from the cities.


The Harvard Club of India, under the leadership of Harvard College alum Shobhana Rana, HSPH alum Abha Mehndiratta and HKS alum Prerna Makkar, launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the short-term and long-term rehabilitation of these workers. Several alumni donated generously to the campaign, funds from which are being used to help the work of NGOs in rural India provide employment to these workers. Some alumni (such as HSPH alum Sonali Vaid and HKS alum Anirban Gangopadhyay) were on the ground, working day and night, arranging funds, meals, transport and basic medical care for these workers and their families. Others were starting to work with policy-makers and Members of Parliaments to help their constituencies be prepared for this movement of their constituents.


Still others, such as HKS alum Abhishek Singh, played a critical role in coordinating and facilitating smooth movement of these workers by informing and pushing his colleagues in the Government into action on cases that otherwise might not have reached their desks. As the CEO of, Abhishek Singh also oversaw the launch and adoption of India’s Aarogya Setu app, in addition to ensuring that only credible information about COVID-19 was being circulated on online networks.


Some alumni in policy and journalism, such as HKS alum Vaidyanathan Iyer also wrote and spoke actively in mainstream media regarding the policy challenges thrown up by this crisis. Many other alumni, such as HBS alums Rishad Premji and Anand Mahindra in their individual and corporate capacities gave generously in this time of crisis, so that basic necessities such as meals, sanitizers, masks and health kits were accessible for those in need.


In addition to this, the Harvard Clubs in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai came together to coordinate events and webinars as well, so that the Harvard alumni community could remain engaged with each other.



The Harvard Club of Indonesia:


Much like their counterparts in India, Harvard alumni in Indonesia stepped up to support their country’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19. In March itself, the Harvard Club of Indonesia launched a fund drive for donating PPE kits to hospitals around Indonesia. Various webinars were organized with Harvard alumni speaking about ways in which Indonesia could better face COVID-19. These included various alumni from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as well as other schools at Harvard. In addition, another webinar was organized for alumni and others to adapt to Life during Pandemic Times.


Alumni were also requested by the Ministry of Health of the Indonesian Government to provide inputs during this public health crisis.Various alumni in Indonesia did exemplary work during this time, including providing technical assistance or doing consultancy works for the national and local governments. The works included: being part of National task Force team to conduct the national strategies to handle COVID-19; producing policy memos for national and local government to strengthen the strategies to handle COVID-19; and providing modelling for the epidemic curve for the basis of policy making.


Many alumni became expert resources for media to educate public. Many HCI members provided data driven and evidence based information using media and social media to provide trustworthy information and perspectives for the public. Still others initiated and assisted the Government of DKI Jakarta to launch Covid Likelihood Meter (CLM), an online calculator built using machine based learning to score likelihood someone have positive RT-PCR test. CLM was initiated by several fresh graduated HCI members, and data scientist who are currently still a student in Harvard. They introduced the importance of using technology to set priorities for RT-pCR testing in limited source setting like Indonesia, and helped the government to built the CLM calculator. Furthermore, alumni also assisted in conducting the implementation program to strengthen government's work in handling COVID-19 by mobilizing domestic and international resources.


There are several key lessons we can draw from these outstanding contributions. It is evident that all Harvard alumni clubs in the region consist of skilled experts who are well connected and can prove to be highly valuable resources for their respective countries and governments.


Leveraging the Harvard community helps gain trust from the public that enable us to organize fund drive in a relatively short time, attract public to join the webinars and open doors to the policy makers. Joint efforts among Harvard Alumni Club members can provide impactful efforts not just within individual countries, but also possibly within the broader Asia-Pacific community.


The above spotlight has been compiled by Anirudh Suri (HKS MPA, and HAA Regional Director for South Asia) with inputs from the leaders of the Harvard Clubs of India and Indonesia. Special thank you to Nurul Luntungan, HSPH Class of 2014, and currently VP for Harvard Club of Indonesia.





Each semester, HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf hosts a series of interactive discussions led by HKS experts on topics of current importance. In June, HKS hosted three sessions focused on COVID-19’s impact in the context of gender, race, and international relations.


1)           COVID-19: Race and the Pandemic

Four of the Kennedy School’s leading scholars on race, history, and public policy discussed the relationship between structural racism in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic. 


2)           COVID-19: Gender and the Pandemic

In what ways has gender inequality been exacerbated during the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and around the world? How does the intersection of race and gender compound these issues? How have women leaders responded to the pandemic? These were just a few of the topics addressed at a June 24 Dean’s Discussion on gender and the pandemic.


3)           COVID-19: The U.S. Response and its Impact on International Relations

Three of the Kennedy School’s leading scholars on international relations and human rights discussed what they described as failures of U.S. leadership during the pandemic and the longer-term implications for the United States’ standing and influence in the world.





1)           Why Japanese Businesses are So Good at Surviving Crises


As demonstrated after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japanese businesses have a unique capability for long-term survival. Hirotaka Takeuchi explains their strategy of investing in community over profits during turbulent times.


2)           Dignity, Inequality, and the Populist Backlash: Lessons from America and Europe for a Sustainable Globalization


COVID-19 has enhanced already existing fissures undermining some societies’ commitments to globalization. Governments and firms need to act decisively to make the models of capitalism in the United States and Europe more friendly to small- and medium-sized firms, more equal in opportunity, and more meritocratic.


3)           Alumni Confront the COVID-19 Crisis


How HBS alumni are helping their neighbors, communities, businesses, and each other during the coronavirus pandemic


4)           Managing Through The Crisis


While medical experts race to understand more about the public health implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the business community is looking for answers on how to protect their companies, adjust their operations, and lead their employees through an uncertain period. Working with HBS faculty, our colleagues at Harvard Business Review, and partners across Harvard University, we offer this timely collection of resources that provide an overview of information that may be helpful.





1)           What Makes an Excellent Online Teacher?


Excellent online teaching isn’t based on the ability to navigate a Zoom room or create a Google doc. Excellent instruction is based on decision-making — how teachers decide to respond to and engage with students, select curriculum materials, organize learning, and use communication strategies.


2)           The Challenges of Reopening


Looking toward fall, how should schools rebound and innovate, while keeping health, wellness, and equity at the center? How can education reinvent, not just reopen? In a new series of articles and other content, we'll explore.


3)           A Family Engagement Framework for All


How to prioritize effective relationships to drive learning, at every level, and an overview of how educators across every role can use a newly revised family engagement model to guide school’s relationships with families.


4)           Making the Most of a Summer at Home


Low-pressure ways to create fun and meaningful moments of learning: Summer is officially here, but with many schools shut due to COVID-19, parents might feel at a loss for what to do with their children. With parent stress (and patience levels) being tested, experts agree that this summer is not the time to panic about learning loss or press to make up for missed class time, but instead to focus on creating fun and meaningful moments.





1)           Racism is a public health issue


US society’s acknowledgement of its legacy of slavery—what could be called the country’s original sin—is long overdue. There has never been a more urgent time to address the inequities. It’s time for US cities, health authorities, medical communities and wider society to demand nothing less than radical, large-scale investment in public health—something the US has never done.


2)           Lack of federal leadership hinders Brazil’s COVID-19 response (and Podcast)


Brazil is now second only to the U.S. in COVID-19 cases, and may soon surpass it. What are the unique challenges the country has faced in responding to the virus? Each country in Latin America has its own coronavirus story but that, in general, they are not able to apply the same social isolation policies used in places such as Europe or New York. Instead, solutions in Latin America must account for large numbers of people depending on informal jobs, unequal access to housing and clean water. The key? Detecting symptoms and contact tracing of infections to avoid further waves of COVID-19 as countries start to reopen.


3)           Pandemic threatens to veer out of control in U.S., public health experts say


Harvard public health experts said the nation’s COVID-19 epidemic is getting “quite out of hand” and that, with cases rising rapidly in the hardest-hit states and a two-week lag between infection and hospitalization, the situation appears set to worsen quickly. “I have this awful feeling of déjà vu, like it’s March all over again,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.