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August 6, 2019
- Atharva Shukla


HPAIR, (The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations) is a non-profit organization founded to create a forum for exchange of knowledge between students and young professionals, and to facilitate discussion about the most important economic, political and social issues faced by Asia. Established in 1991 it places special focus on promoting long-term relationships among future leaders and connects them with current leaders in the world.

HPAIR provides the delegates with different tracks to choose from; this years’ tracks include : art, media and culture, energy and environment stability, entrepreneurship and technology, global markets and economy, governance and geopolitics, social policy and justice.

The crux of this conference lies embedded in its Impact Challenges. These are case- study styled competitions formulated in partnership with leading organizations. The delegates are encouraged to brainstorm together and come up with solutions for some of the biggest issues currently plaguing Asia. This has, in the past, helped spark the formation of start-ups, and led to the students landing exciting internships in the above mentioned fields, with organizations such as Deloitte. The attendees try to understand problems and discuss possible solutions through various plenary sessions, panels, and informative seminars. These seminars are delivered by eminent personalities from various fields, invited to foster mentorship, networking, and guidance opportunities for delegates, some of whom include Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia; Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary General of the United Nations and Frank Friedman, current COO of Deloitte Global.

A great learning curve is what awaits any student attending the conference but this is made difficult by the steep registration prices and the high costs incurred. A partial or a full scholarship is awarded to students in order to lessen this financial burden but the number of these are limited to 50. The conference quality in exchange for the amount of money being invested might not be appreciated by everyone who is a part of it.


This conference provides one with a unique and rare opportunity to grace the lawns of a university better than our own , an alternative if you despise a 4 hour road trip to Delhi.

It is the perfect opportunity of increasing the reach of your network by making new connections. It will help you meet people from different geographies and cultures and understand the roots of their academic and professional brilliance in addition to having the opportunity to interact with eminent speakers. This interaction provides you with the opportunity to often realise how a method being applied by someone in their own problems can be modified for yours. Opportunities to be a part of projects already being done by people or leveraging the expertise of people in various fields for your own projects are some of the most important reasons to be a part of such a conference.

HPAIR currently holds two annual conferences that bring together international students and eminent individuals in the fields of academia, politics and business - the Harvard Conference and the Asia Conference.

The Harvard Conference was started in 2008 and is held within the confines of the Harvard University Campus where around 300 students and professionals convene to explore the pertinent issues surrounding the Asian region.

The Asian Conference was started in 1992 and is a 5 day program held more fittingly in an Asian city. It looks to integrate the contents of the academic and business world, hence benefitting the enthusiastic delegates by helping them gain a broader perspective on issues spanning multiple areas.

The Harvard conference is said to be more coveted. The Asian conference is longer, but both the conferences don’t differ by much.



Current undergraduate students, graduate students, and young professionals are eligible to apply as delegates. In addition, recent college graduates who obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree in the past 5 years, are eligible to apply for HPAIR conferences.


1. Delegate Application: Fill out and submit the Delegate Application at before the appropriate deadline. The application is made up of -

1) Questions whose answers should reflect how your solutions make a difference and should highlight what you will bring to the conference and help in finding better solutions to the already existing problems. Connecting it to the world around you will give you an edge.

2) A resume with special emphasis on your interpersonal skills, highlighting your community projects if any.

3) A short 400 word essay.

Applicants hear 4-6 days after the deadline of their application round whether they have been selected for an interview.

2. Interview-

Delegates who make it past the first stage of the application are offered a 15-20 minute interview with an HPAIR staff member. The interview is taken over skype or some other video calling platform. It will focus on the applicant’s reasons for attending the conference, their academic and/or professional experiences and their critical thinking ability. The questions revolve around the things already written by the delegate in the application, it is more on the tracks of a conversation rather than an interview.

The most important takeaway from any such conference is undoubtedly the interaction and networking opportunities. HPAIR takes good care of this with the help of small panel sizes, and giving delegates enough time to ask the speakers questions, and interact with other delegates. The conference staff might come off as a little hostile but organizing an event of this scale and pulling it off remains commendable nonetheless. The interaction is focused more towards other delegates rather than with cooperates (World Business Dialogue has a more professional feel to it.)

HPAIR has the name of a prestigious university associated with it which helps in attracting the most talented people from different walks of life across the world. A truly remarkable experience lies ahead for those who seek to learn.