Technology Showcase

The India Conference Showcase will exhibit MIT’s cutting-edge research and initiatives focused on fostering India’s economic growth and development. Along with poster presentations on breakthrough research and latest initiatives, the showcase event will also have live technology demonstrations providing an interactive hands-on atmosphere. This event will provide a unique opportunity where the conference attendees will be able to interact one-on-one with prominent MIT researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs.

The India Conference Showcase will exhibit India-centric research and initiatives across all MIT disciplines.

The Projects:

[tabs slidertype="left tabs" auto="on" autospeed="9000"] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Akshaya Project -
MIT Sloan India Lab[/tabtext] [tabtext]Blind Lead -
Legatum Center[/tabtext] [tabtext]D-Lab[/tabtext] [tabtext]Fog Harvesting[/tabtext] [tabtext]Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS)[/tabtext] [tabtext]Indian School of Business[/tabtext] [tabtext]Into Thin Air: Geologic Mapping in the Western Himalaya[/tabtext] [tabtext]MISTI India[/tabtext] [tabtext]MIT India Reading Group[/tabtext] [tabtext]MIT Media Lab India Initiatives[/tabtext] [tabtext]MITRAI[/tabtext] [tabtext]Open Health Designs - Public Service Center[/tabtext] [tabtext]Project NETRA and CATRA[/tabtext] [tabtext]Project Prakash[/tabtext] [tabtext]Sana[/tabtext] [tabtext]The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]

Akshaya Project - MIT Sloan India Lab

The Akshaya Patra foundation provides healthy mid-day meals to over 1.2 million children each day. The India Lab team partnered with the organization to examine their distribution methods, marketing strategies, and growth plans. Akshaya Patra hopes to reach 5 million children by the year 2020.
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Blind Lead - Legatum Center

The Blind Lead project seeks to establish a model for the production, distribution and development of tactile and Braille literacy technologies, which can be sustained and extended through the initiative of blind individuals. It will also create opportunities for skill training and employment for blind and low-vision individuals on a local basis. The Braille-It labeler, a low-cost, pocket-sized device that enables blind individuals to produce raised Braille dots on adhesive labeling tape, is the first of several new tactile and Braille literacy technologies that will be produced and distributed according to the Blind Lead model.
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D-Lab is a program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that fosters the development of appropriate technologies and sustainable solutions within the framework of international development. D-Lab’s mission is to improve the quality of life of low-income households through the creation and implementation of low cost technologies. D-Lab’s portfolio of technologies also serves as an educational vehicle that allows students to gain an optimistic and practical understanding of their roles in alleviating poverty.

There are currently eleven different academic offerings that make up the suite of D-Lab classes, falling into the broad categories of Development, Design and Dissemination. All D-Lab courses are based on the same values and principles of providing experiential learning, using technology to address poverty, building the local creative capacity, promoting local innovation, valuing indigenous knowledge, fostering participatory development and co-creation, and building sustainable organizations and partnerships.

D-Lab is an ambitious program - one that seeks to give each student a deep and meaningful experience and that is committed to making a long-lasting impact in the communities where we work. This cannot happen remotely, and thus D-Lab provides an opportunity for fieldwork to each student and maintains strong relationships with partner organizations. As a result, D-Lab offers a very unique educational opportunity for university students.
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Fog Harvesting


Access to adequate supplies of clean potable water is a major concern in some parts of the developing world. A large population living in the arid parts of such countries depends either on groundwater which is not directly suitable for drinking or water supplied by tankers which is expensive and intermittent. Water collection from fog harvesting has a huge potential to locally satisfy the need for a pure and dependable supply of water. Previous research in the Cohen/ McKinley research group at MIT was focused on designing liquid wetting or non-wetting surfaces by varying the chemistry and topography of surfaces. Here, we apply this theoretical understanding to predict and enhance the efficiency of fog harvesting devices. These devices will provide clean and reliable supply of drinking water to the water-starved communities. The proposed water harvesting devices have no moving parts and do not need any power to operate. These devices will be made up of locally manufactured polymer meshes and other textile materials. The construction will not require heavy capital equipment and it will employ local unskilled labor. The carbon footprint of such devices will be substantially smaller than the traditional truck-based transport which is highly carbon intensive. Fog harvesting will reduce the withdrawal rate from ground water sources, and maintain the sustainability of the water tables. This work was showcased on the MIT homepage on April 21, 2011 and later it was published in The Economist, MIT Technology Review and on CNN. Currently, this work is on display in an exhibition around the theme of water and food security in the Science Museum at London.
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Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS)


Supported by a $650,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, a team of faculty from MIT is assisted the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) to develop the graduate curriculum for an independent “National Innovation University” in India. The new university will address the pressing challenges of human development, learning and knowledge creation faced by rapidly urbanizing countries in South Asia. When fully realized as a multi-campus institution, IIHS aims to reach tens of thousands of students annually, drawn from a wide range of backgrounds (including mid-career professionals and rural youth), with a curriculum transacted in a variety of Indian regional languages.

The University is envisioned as a key player in motivating deep reform in India’s higher education system through interdisciplinary education around the issues of habitat and human settlements. In particular, IIHS aims to overcome the region’s growing deficit in trained professionals, a shortfall acutely felt in the present environment of unprecedented urbanization. Moreover, the trickle-down effect of this type of urbanization has led to unequal development across the country where the uneven diffusion of urbanization related benefits in areas such as infrastructure development and services have added to the growing economic disparities, an issue which will be addressed by an “open-access” model, which the University intends to advance. In keeping with this specific agenda of transformative education, the curriculum for the university, developed by MIT will also employ a unique South Asian focus and provide the necessary support and synergy to enable the desired macro-outcomes necessary for India’s continued development over the next generation. These aims include an end to endemic poverty and deprivation, economic integration into a single market, progress around social transformation, the beginning of a sustainability transition, and greater regional and global engagement.
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Indian School of Business


MIT Sloan and the Indian School of Business

MIT Sloan seeks agreements that enhance the reputation and visibility of the school and contribute to MIT’s international objectives and reputation. International initiatives distinguish MIT Sloan. Our activity with ISB (Indian School of Business) will raise MIT’s profile in an important area of the world, attract students and will lead to positive alumni and corporate relationships. Due to its growing importance in the global economy, and its stage of advanced economic development with Brazil, Russia and China (“BRIC”), MIT Sloan has long sought to develop a presence in India. The MOU with ISB allows MIT Sloan to further its international strategy and develop strong relationships with key academic, business, and government leaders in this important, emerging country.

The relationship with ISB will focus on the development of the BML Munjal Institute for Manufacturing Excellence (one of four internal institutes offering specializations in post graduate management programs). MIT Sloan will assist with the curriculum design, explore collaboration with action learning projects (e.g., India Lab, modeled after China Lab), and, provide opportunities for faculty, from each institute, to teach and lecture at each other’s campuses.

ISB’s MBA student culture at the Hyderabad campus is strongly oriented towards finance, consulting, and marketing. Operations electives are also offered – experiencing low demand. With the creation of the Mohali campus, outside of Delhi, ISB plans for a popular, manufacturing/operations concentration. The “operations” faculty would also assist with a strategy to market the importance of the operations electives at the Hyderabad campus - thus increasing their popularity.

ISB strategy for Mohali is to respond to needs expressed by emerging market sectors to provide general management talent combined with readiness to take on positions in specific industries. These areas are expected to have high growth and are important for economic development.

The first academic session at the Mohali campus is expected to commence in 2012. The campus is being built by the support of four founders, and, as such, is designed for specialization for post graduate programs. The land is being provided by the Punjab Government.

Professor Charles Fine and Professor Vivek Farias have been assigned as the faculty co-directors from MIT Sloan for Manufacturing Excellence. They will focus on research collaboration opportunities and create a curriculum focused on manufacturing. An additional focus will be the introduction of action-based learning projects tailored to Indian conditions: Attracting “anchor clients” for the Manufacturing Center from the industrial community to commence student and faculty interest.

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Into Thin Air: Geologic Mapping in the Western Himalaya


In August 2011, a group of 15 geologists, including 5 MIT students and 4 students from Kumaun University in Nanital, India, mapped ~200 km along the Karakoram fault, a major dextral strike slip fault in the western Himalayan Shyok and Nubra Valleys (figure 1). As dextral strike slip faults are rare in the western Himalaya, constraining the formation age and absolute offset along the Karkoram fault is crucial to understanding crustal deformation throughout Eurasia and the Tibetan Plateau. There are several proposed crustal deformation mechanisms, such as lateral extrusion, which was first proposed by P. Tapponnier in the mid 1970s. Lateral extrusion proposes that the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia has caused the extrusion of eastern Asia to the east and southeast in two blocks (see figure 2). Significant dextral displacement along the Karakorum fault, which could be represented by one of the NW-SE trending faults on the western margin of the impactor in figure 2, would provide further support for the extrusion model.

MISTI students studied the suture zone between India and Eurasia, which is thought to be offset by the Karakorum fault. The students spent four weeks in the field creating a geologic map and collecting samples to be analyzed for ages and deformation patterns. Students combined field notes and satellite imagery with knowledge of previous studies to steadily create a new map while in Ladakh (figure 4). The final map will be digitized and include more information about rock ages and metamorphic fabrics.
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MIT MISTI-India Program: Mens et Manus has always been MIT’s motto.
Our students and faculty work with not just their minds but with their hands, because while we privilege knowledge production, we do not simply rest there. We also have a serious stake in translating that research into real action. India, with its century-old association with MIT, its totally global perspective, and its enormous talent pool in academia, industry and government, continues to join hands with the MIT-India Program to form and sustain the most innovative collaborations. From poverty alleviation, to urban planning, to emerging market business strategies, the excitement in crossing disciplinary and national borders forms one of the most enduring bonds between scientists and engineers who share the same goal of excellence.


1. internships

The MIT-India Program matches MIT students with internships and research positions in India. The program pre-selects candidates (undergraduate and graduate) based on their level of academic performance, motivation, and faculty recommendations. Candidates come from engineering, science, architecture and urban planning, humanities and management. Students complete a course on India and cultural training prior to their two- to three-month internships. Local and multi-national companies, start-ups, academic and research institutes, schools and NGOs participate in the program.

2. faculty seed funds
- India Innovation Fund (2009, 2011)
- MIT-India/IFMR Trust Seed Fund (2009, 2010)

Both the India Innovation and IFMR Trust funds grant a relatively small amount of money to allow grantees and their colleagues to spend time together either in India or at MIT. Much more than mere travel money, MISTI GSF grants enable the shared thinking that is crucial to launching any successful collaboration. Grantees overwhelmingly acknowledge that MISTI funding has been essential to the success of their projects: physical exchange―face-to-face meetings, workshops, conversation and brainstorming―is the factor that determines whether shared inquiry will evolve into collaborative research. Since all MISTI GSF grants involve students, MIT students learn first-hand the importance of international collaboration and networks in the context of their own research interests.

28 India Innovation Fund proposals ($1.38 million requested)
4 India Innovation Fund grants ($119,300 awarded)

3. education & training for India bound MIT groups
- MIT-India interns
- D-Lab team leaders (Amy Smith’s team)
- ChemE Practice School grad students
- IAP India workshop
- Sloan India Lab
- ghdLab (Anjali Sastry’s students)
- MIT Media Lab

4. fall freshman seminar on Delhi + IAP workshop in India

5. extensive partnerships in India
We have over 60 partners in India including IFMR, Chennai; TIFR, Mumbai; IIT-D, Delhi; CSTEP, Bangalore; NRB Bearings, Mumbai; TATA Power, Mumbai; Google India, Bangalore; Infosys, Bangalore; Philips India, Bangalore

6. new initiatives
- Chitkara University HHS grant for teaching
- Two mini-courses on India over IAP:
“Love & Romance in Ancient India” and “Deconstructing Indian Mythology”

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MIT India Reading Group


Facebook page:

MIT India Reading Group is a platform for collaborative research and discussion about India centric developmental issues. The group comprises of a vibrant mix of graduate students from MIT, Harvard and other schools in greater Boston area. The group started in 2006, and since then has discussed a vast variety of socio-economic issues in India, including challenges in the energy sector, primary education, public health and governance. At the India conference showcase you will get to meet the group members and hear about the work the group has been engaged in particularly focusing on the energy solutions for rural India.

To join the group, please subscribe to the mailing list here:
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MIT Media Lab India Initiatives

The India Initiatives group was founded in 2008 to foster academic, research, and industrial collaborations between the MIT Media Lab and Indian organizations: as an emerging economy, India gives rise to important research problems in line with the Media Lab’s areas of interest (i.e. in society, health, culture and entertainment, energy and environment, urbanization and transportation, etc).

In January 2011, the MIT Media Lab and the College of Engineering, Pune hosted the first Design & Innovation workshop in Pune, India ( The workshop aimed to engage and inspire students across all disciplines in Indian universities in inventing the future together. The week-long workshop involved students in ideation, design, and implementation of prototypes together with Media Lab and local mentors.
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Collaboration between MIT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India MITRAI is an early-stage collaboration between MIT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to research India’s contemporary challenges in telecom policy, and to build TRAI’s internal capacity for dealing with them. The telecommunications sector has been a tremendous success story in India, where teledensity has catapulted from 4 in every 100 having a telephone two decades ago to 85 in every 100 with a mobile or landline phone today. While the regulatory framework created by TRAI has been the one to enable this growth; the framework assumes a well-defined set of services, offered by a well-identified operator in a well-circumscribed geographical area. The Internet has shattered each of these foundations. This situation raises several important questions, such as: (a) How to achieve regulatory compliance in new technologies without killing innovation? (b) How to create infrastructure for critical services such as emergency service? (c) How to think about national security in a multi-technology architecture? These are questions to which answers are unavailable even in advanced economies. The purpose of MITRAI is to research such challenges, and educate regulators on possible ways of addressing them. The collaboration will undertake graduate research on several of the above topics, and teach courses on contemporary issues in telecom regulations. It will involve researchers at Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and Sloan School of Management at MIT.
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Open Health Designs - Public Service Center

Open Health Designs (OHD) strives to help people in the developing world by innovating at the intersection of healthcare and technology; we seek to design, create, advise on and deploy the technological tools that represent a shift in the conventional approach to healthcare. Over the past 18 months, OHD has been working on several extensive projects such as:

InnoHealth: the design and deployment of a maternal health emergency referral logistics system in four municipal maternity homes and hospitals of Mumbai.

mMitra: creating a rural maternal health voice-messaging system to provide information to pregnant mothers and mothers of children until the age of five.

Health metrics surveys: working with researchers from the University College of London and local nonprofits to provide technical advice/consultation in designing a 2 year health metrics survey covering the largest slum in Asia.
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Project NETRA and CATRA

Website: and


Hundreds of millions of people worldwide unnecessarily suffer from treatable medical illnesses and conditions - especially in developing regions. High cost and low accessibility of care - including diagnostics - are the leading barriers to treatment.

Eye care is an area with a particularly high number of untreated: over half a billion people worldwide suffer from a type of preventable eye impairment. Uncorrected refractive errors (ie nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism), presbyopia (age related eye condition), and cataracts (cloudiness in the eye) result in lost productivity, lost independence, illiteracy and impoverishment on a massive scale.

Current diagnostic systems are large, expensive, disconnected, and difficult to operate. As a result, many people in developing nations go without eye exams and remain unaware that they have a treatable eye condition.

Leveraging the ubiquity and advanced hardware of mobile phones, we are developing and disseminating mobile mates–affordable and easy-to-use mobile phone attachments that allow anyone to measure their eyes and get a recommendation for treatment. Like a thermometer, NETRA aims to empower hundreds of millions in their own homes through patient centric ecosystems that start with diagnosis and awareness, and end with options for quality care.

Our small, portable solution allows for anyone, anywhere to get an eye exam, and access a care provider through the mobile network. The setup consists of three parts: a smart phone, a hardware app and a software app.

Snap the NETRA adapter onto a smart phone loaded with NETRA software, follow the simple instructions, and quickly receive your prescription for glasses right on the phone. NETRA fits snugly in a pocket and requires minimal training to operate.

Starting with refractive errors and cataracts, NETRA and CATRA are our first of a growing line of solutions geared towards eye health.
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Project Prakash



For most scientific enterprises, the societal benefits are realized long after the research effort. However, in rare instances, even the process of conducting research directly benefits people’s lives. Project Prakash is one such instance. The overarching mission of Project Prakash is to bring light into the lives of curably blind children and, in so doing, illuminate some of the most fundamental scientific questions about how the brain develops and learns to see.

The humanitarian mission of Project Prakash

India shoulders the world’s largest burden of childhood blindness. It is estimated that nearly a million children in the country are either blind or severely visually impaired. The visual handicap, coupled with extreme poverty greatly compromises the children’s quality of life; fewer than 50% of these children survive to adulthood. These numbers take on added poignancy when one notes that in well over half of the cases, the blindness is treatable or preventable. Most children, however, never receive medical care because the treatment facilities are concentrated in major cities, while over 75% of the population lives in villages. Project Prakash seeks to identify and treat blind children, and simultaneously, build awareness amidst the rural populace regarding treatable and preventable blindness.

The scientific mission of Project Prakash

Embedded in the humanitarian aspect of Project Prakash is an unprecedented opportunity to study one of the deepest scientific questions: How does the brain learn to extract meaning from sensory information?

The humanitarian initiatives of Project Prakash are beginning to create a remarkable population of children across a wide age-range who are just setting out on the enterprise of learning how to see. We have begun following the development of visual skills in these unique children to gain insights into fundamental questions regarding object learning and brain plasticity. This is a unique and unprecedented window into some of the most fundamental mysteries of how the brain learns to extract meaning from the world.
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Sana is a volunteer organization hosted at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It consists of doctors, informaticians, engineers, public health experts, business entrepreneurs and social scientists with the goal of designing and implementing a cellphone-based information system to improve quality of care in resource-poor settings. Sana develops and maintains an open-source cellphone-based software that allows capture and transmission of any type of medical data (e.g. text, images such as photo and ECG, video such as ultrasound) through cellular networks to a back-end electronic medical record system that a remote expert can access to provide real-time decision support to front-line healthcare providers. The software allows embedding of decision trees, protocols and checklists to assist with triage, diagnosis and treatment.

Sana has partnered with Narayana Hrudayalaya to screen and manage chronic diseases in rural and semi-urban India. The initial focus is on two disease groups: oral cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A pilot study last year screened around 6,000 people for oral cancer in Bangalore. The plan is to scale it to 1.5 million people over the next year in the province of Karnataka.

Sana has also partnered with eHealthpoints, an organization associated with the social innovation fund Ashoka. eHealthpoints owns and operates a network of 8 primary care clinics serving small rural communities in the state of the Punjab. A bespoke procedure has been created on Sana, based upon the Indian Diabetes risk score. A pilot implementation of diabetes screening was conducted this summer in Bathinda, Punjab.

Sana strongly believes that there is a need to bring together experts from various disciplines in order to design an operating system around the delivery of care that is facilitated by mobile technology. Although the technology is important, it is crucial that is supported by a multi-disciplinary collaboration around quality improvement.
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The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)



J-PAL started as a center at M.I.T.’s department of economics with the aim of reducing world poverty by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence.

J-PAL’s network of 51 affiliated professors from universities around the world have more than 244 ongoing and completed projects in over 40 countries that rigorously test the effectiveness of social programs in the areas of health, education, microfinance, labor, environment, governance and agriculture. More than 50 of these projects are in India.

J-PAL has been working in India for over a decade.

J-PAL South Asia is located at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), a leading business school in Chennai. J-PAL has projects in 13 states in both rural and urban India, and has built extensive partnerships with state governments, NGOs, foundations and international development organizations to:

  1. Evaluate social programs to provide scientific evidence on the effectiveness of such programs.
  2. Build local capacity to evaluate social programs.
  3. Policy outreach to roll out state or country wide scale-ups of successful programs.

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