The purpose of MIT India Reading Group (MIRG) is to do an academic study of socio-economic issues in India. Many of us are concerned about the challenges inherent to development in India but don't have a real understanding of the underlying issues - MIRG hopes to change this! We believe in fact-based learning, and the meeting discussions are grounded in scientific publications and case studies.
Previous topics of discussion have included primary education and public health; the current topic is social entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on microfinance. Highlights from our previous meetings and the corresponding readings are documented on the group's wiki, which serves as an online resource on India-related information.
The current group is a vibrant mix of graduate students with no background in developmental issues as well as individuals with field experience working in poverty alleviation. The group also provides an opportunity to network with like-minded people. Some members have collaborated in competitions like IDEAS and the MIT 100k and are now working on India-based projects.
How the group works
The group meets bimonthly at MIT during the academic year and weekly over summer vacation. Each meeting is led by a different member, who has reviewed relevant papers and prepared a brief, interactive presentation. The discussion leader sends out a short reading for all members to read beforehand in order to have a more constructive discussion. The group collectively decides on future topics of discussion, with each a natural outgrowth of previously raised questions that we would now like to address.
MIRG also hosts talks by experts in the field, through which members can learn from the expert's first-hand experience and return to questions raised during the regular meetings. For instance, last semester the group invited the executive director of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab for a lunch meeting with the group
Who can join
ANYONE! The only prerequisite is an interest in understanding the socio-economic issues in India. We invite people from the Cambridge and greater Boston area, and those visiting the area to come to our meetings. Please email, about-india-owner[at]mit[dot]edu to be added to the mailing list.