Dr. Azim Khan, Academic Director
Dr. Azim Khan has been working as an academic director since spring 2008. He is an academic by training, with a zeal for social activism. He received his doctorate from Aligarh Muslim University in India. His doctoral thesis focused on sex-selective abortions and the effectiveness of prenatal diagnostic techniques (regulation and prevention of misuse) legislation in India. He earned an MA in human rights from the University of London in 2005, an LLM (Master of Laws) in 1997 from Aligarh Muslim University, and an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) with distinction in constitutional law, from the University of Lucknow in 1994.
Dr. Khan received the prestigious Ford Foundation International Fellowship for human rights in 2003 for academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to community. He has worked with various colleges and universities in India and the US for almost 16 years, teaching human rights, public health, and development. Dr. Khan’s previous experiences in these fields include working as a consultant and researcher with several NGOs and international organizations, including UN OHCHR and UN CERD on a pro bono basis. He was a major contributor and leading person in drafting the UN CERD shadow report (2006) on India. Dr. Khan has previously been affiliated with SIT as a facilitator of the World Learning and Ford Foundation Leadership for Social Justice (LSJ) program in Washington, DC. In 2007, he was awarded a Scholar of Peace fellowship by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his research in Gujarat. More recently, he worked as a media specialist in the South Asia bureau of the US government. Dr. Khan occasionally contributes to newspapers and academic journals on contemporary issues in India. He has also been a host of a popular weekly show for ETV on contemporary social justice and human rights issues.
Dr. Khan is a co-founder of several public health, education, and development organizations and is widely respected in civil society for his contributions as an academic and practitioner.
Dr. Jayanti Singh, Senior Faculty
Dr. Jayanti Singh is a medical doctor and is currently associated with the Intensified Malaria Control Project II and other programs related to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. She provides monitoring and evaluation support for the seven northeastern states of India as part of her work with the Global Fund. Previously, Dr. Singh designed and executed a midline assessment study of the impact of nurses’ training on holistic care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) for India’s national AIDS control program.
Dr. Singh worked for UNICEF’s polio eradication program for four years. She dealt with the challenges of a varied population — including an influx of laborers — and tenuous infrastructure in the state of Uttar Pradesh. She represented UNICEF’s polio eradication program during the 2009 annual meeting of the US Fund for UNICEF in New York. Prior to joining UNICEF, Dr. Singh was in charge of surveillance and operations with the World Health Organization’s national polio surveillance project in India. As deputy director of immunization for PATH, she organized Japanese encephalitis immunization campaigns in close coordination with the Indian government. Dr. Singh served as the in-house physician for the national Indian women’s soccer team during the Asian Championship in 2000.
Dr. Rajeev Bijalwan
Dr. Rajeev Bijalwan is a public health professional from the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India. He has extensive experience working with health programs and on public health issues. He is very knowledgeable about traditional medicine and global public health issues and challenges. His specialization is in the area of health policy, planning, and program management.
Dr. Bijalwan has an undergraduate degree in Ayurveda and a master's degree in international health management and development from the University of Birmingham, UK. Since September 2008, he has been vice president of the Global Education and Health Forum. He has worked on multiple research studies, some of which have been published. His primary interests lie in the areas of traditional healthcare, public health, institutional development, and health policy planning. He has been invited to various forums and to serve on various committees as an expert.
Dr. Bijalwan has assisted the state government in the planning of various interventions under the National Rural Health Mission and is supporting the state in developing future interventions under the Urban Health Mission. At present, he is working as a public health consultant with the Himalayan Institute of Hospital Trust, a graduate medical college and hospital at Dehradun in Uttarakhand.
Abid Siraj, Academic Coordinator
Abid has been working in public health for several years. He holds a master’s degree in social work, with a specialization in reproductive and child health. His diverse knowledge about public health in India, his vast network of connections, and his everlasting patience and smiling face are wonderful additions to the SIT program. Abid assists the academic director with lectures and excursions and helps students develop their Independent Study Project research proposals.
Abid previously worked for a USAID-funded project on the role of local self-government in the promotion of reproductive and child health. He served as project coordinator of another USAID-funded project, the Community-Based Distribution Project of Family Planning Methods. He was part of a pioneering team that implemented a flagship public health program for the Government of India’s National Rural Health Mission in Rajasthan. Abid was also involved with one of UNICEF’s largest communications and social mobilization initiatives, the intensive immunization of pulse polio, which took place in Uttar Pradesh. He has also been a visiting faculty member for SIT Study Abroad programs.
Bhavna Singh, Co-Director of Language Studies
Bhavna has been working with SIT Study Abroad since spring 2004 as senior Hindi faculty. Bhavna and Goutam Merh together form the critical lead team that inspires students to speak and dream in Hindi starting in the earliest days of the program. Her stunning elocution inspires students, and her strong commitment to each student never goes unnoticed. She holds a BA from Lucknow University and recently completed a postgraduate diploma in rural development, with a specialization in public health in India.
Bhavna previously conducted weeklong Hindi language workshops for Japanese and Canadian students. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Rajasthani, Avadhi, and Nepalese. Outside of teaching hours, she is an excellent athlete and Kathak dancer.
Goutam Merh, Co-Director of Language Studies
Goutam earned a master’s degree from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, in 1989. He has been teaching Hindi for more than 12 years for various American study abroad programs in India. He also has worked with Antioch University’s Buddhist studies program in Bodh Gaya, India, and for On-Site Language Service’s International Language Learning program. Before joining the Health and Human Rights program, Goutam worked with the India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program, SIT’s program located in Jaipur, where he was senior Hindi faculty and excursion coordinator for two years. He has a keen sense of humor that keeps the classrooms lively, and he is extraordinarily helpful to students during excursions and field studies.
Goutam, who is fluent in Hindi, Bangala, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Brij, and English, is an expert on Indian culture and development issues.
Ms. Archna Merh, Senior Language Faculty and Student Affairs Coordinator
Archna Merh has been teaching with SIT Study Abroad programs in India since the fall of 2008, most recently with the India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program based in Jaipur. She holds a master’s degree in English literature and a bachelor's in education (BEd) from Rajasthan University. She has taught for various American study abroad programs for more than 12 years. She is also affiliated with On-Site Language Services Inc., an international program based in the US. Ms. Merh has in-depth knowledge of Indian cultures and traditions. She is fluent in Hindi, Gujarati, and English. She actively assists her students with cross-cultural learning in class and during excursions. With her extroverted nature, Ms. Merh is a great resource and source of support for students. Her favorite pastimes include dancing, reading, and traveling.
Meenu Bhambhani, Lecturer
Meenu Bhambhani is well known in India as a disability rights and social justice activist. She is head of global corporate social responsibility for Mphasis, which is based in Bengluru. Meenu has previously been an Independent Study Project advisor for SIT Study Abroad students, and a lecturer. In 2009, Meenu was awarded the prestigious NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Award. As a disability activist she has promoted employment for persons with disabilities, and she has been recognized as a role model for persons with disabilities.