The Harvard Committee on General Scholarships has awarded Mallika Kaur, M.P.P. ’10 the 2010-11 Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. The competitive fellowship is awarded to one graduate from across Harvard. First nominated by Harvard Kennedy School for this award, Kaur was then selected by the Harvard-wide committee from a pool of applicants from the various graduate schools.Kaur focuses on South Asian human rights and security issues. Her perspectives have been informed by growing up in Punjab and having worked on advocacy efforts in the United States since 2001. She holds a master in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a juris doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. Kaur has worked with underrepresented communities in South Asia as well as in the diaspora.The Sheldon Fellowship will support her travel, study, and writing on gender issues in Indian-administered Kashmir. With heightened international involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, South Asian security issues are at the forefront today. Understanding how women are affected by and effect the situation in Kashmir will help deepen an understanding of this crucial region.Kaur concentrated in international and global affairs at Harvard Kennedy School and in international law at Berkley Law School. Under Rory Stewart’s leadership, she helped co-found and serves as the coordinator of the Kashmir Initiative at Harvard Carr Center. The purpose of the initiative is to create an interdisciplinary dialogue around this vital region by involving students, academics, policy makers, Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris. Multilingual and with a commitment to building bridges between disparate ethnic groups, NGOs, and state actors, Kaur continues to work toward promoting inclusive security and democracy.
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error When the pingpong balls fell the Lakers’ way last month and they moved up to the second spot in the draft, the team’s decision was easy.No matter which freshman center the Minnesota Timberwolves chose — and it’s looking more and more like that’s Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns — the Lakers would immediately snatch up the other one.Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, to be precise.The 6-11, 270-pound Okafor was the centerpiece of the Blue Devils’ march to the national championship, a classic, old-school, back-to-the-basket big man with throwback skills that draw comparisons to Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon. • Mock Draft: And with the second pick …With the offensively polished Okafor at center — giving the Lakers a dimension few teams enjoy in the paint these days — and second-year power forward Julius Randle alongside him, the Lakers’ frontcourt would be set for years.Throw in promising point guard Jordan Clarkson, a ton of money to spend under the salary cap and the lure and mystique of playing for one of the iconic franchises in all of sports. All of a sudden the path to championship contention didn’t look so daunting anymore.The Lakers’ choice was simple: Take Okafor and secure one of the most offensively advanced centers to enter the NBA in years.It’s still an easy choice, no matter how complicated the nitpickers are trying to make it by using Okafor’s work-in-progress defense and the Golden State Warriors’ small-ball championship as reasons to pass on Okafor in favor of Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell. Nothing against Russell, whom I love, but the Lakers absolutely need to draft the 19-year-old big man.Period.Exclamation point.The game hasn’t changed so drastically there isn’t still a need for offensive big men. Okafor has all the makings of a dominant scoring center, which means he’s sure to encounter double teams. That means open teammates.• Related: Should Lakers favor Cousins over draft pick?Surround him with outside shooters and the Lakers will be strong inside without sacrificing anything on the perimeter.If the fear is the Lakers would be vulnerable to today’s tendency to go small — a la the Warriors — let’s not forget that’s a two-way street. If Okafor is as offensively skilled as it seems, opponents going small will do so at a risk.I’ve read all the negative accounts of Okafor’s defense, some coming from anonymous NBA scouts.Okafor hasn’t shown rim-protecting skills. He wasn’t particularly strong defending the pick-and-roll. He wasn’t a great shot blocker.The complaints are valid.But just for the sake of argument, check out this scouting report from nbadraft.net:“Below average athlete. Heavy legged player who will need to improve his foot speed to play in the NBA. Lacks fluidity in his movements as he is a bit mechanical. Must continue to work on conditioning his body as he appears to be carrying a little extra weight. A focus on strength training could improve his overall mobility greatly. Lacks the explosiveness to be even a decent shot blocker at the NBA level. Not a very good rebounder out of position, as he possesses below average lateral quickness. Can be a little foul prone. Not a great help defender by any means as he is often late on the play.”Sound familiar?That was a breakdown on Marc Gasol prior to the 2007 draft.Gasol, as we all know, is arguably the best center in the NBA. And he was voted the Defensive Player of the Year last season.I point all that out to say this: Scouts don’t always hit the mark.More important, it’s impractical and silly to assume Okafor has reached his defensive ceiling after a one-and-done college career and before his 20th birthday.And while playing on a Duke team, mind you, that was so thin on front-court reserves and needed Okafor on the floor so badly, he was asked to tone it down defensively to avoid getting in foul trouble.That isn’t to say he will become a DeAndre Jordan-like defensive presence. But between the system he played and the potential development ahead — including his body going from teenager to grown man — I’m betting he isn’t nearly as bad as feared. The same athletic ability and intelligence that make him one of the most advanced scoring big men in years will translate into him becoming more than adequate defensively.If Marc Gasol can do it, so can Okafor.And while we’re focused on the negatives, let’s not forget the strengths.Okafor’s post offense is so advanced, it’s almost assumed he can walk into the NBA and average 18 to 20 points as a rookie. And his wide, 6-11 body and basketball I.Q. suggest double digits in rebounds, too.That’s a commodity too valuable to pass up.As far as the argument that Okafor adds only to the defensive issues the Lakers endured last year, sure, it’s a concern.But by all accounts, the offensively dynamic Russell faces defensive issues as well. And if the Lakers draft him, they’ll be vulnerable defensively in the backcourt and still won’t have a low-post anchor.I’d rather take my chances drafting a dominant offensive presence in the paint — and use all my resources to coach him up on the other end — and tap into the free-agent or trade market to acquire perimeter help. A month after the Lakers got lucky in the lottery, their choice is still easy.Go big or go home.