ISAS Newsletter - South Asia is a biannual publication. The newsletter features exclusive interviews with visiting dignitaries and speakers at ISAS events, covers special reports on developments in the region and highlights important ISAS research activities and events. Guest writers are also invited to contribute on specific topics.
Issue No. 24 (July 2017 – Dec 2017)
As we herald the start of 2018, with customary hopes and aspirations, the year just gone by has been of seminal significance to the community of researchers and staff at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS). An autonomous research institute, ISAS is dedicated to research on contemporary South Asia. The year has seen our research community engage with many facets of life in this complex and vast region, and its global connectivity.
Issue No. 23 (July 2016 – June 2017)
I am delighted to welcome you to this edition of our newsletter. Set up in 2004, ISAS has steadily established itself as a hub for research and policy analysis with a South Asian focus. We seek to keep pace with developments in South Asia, and global issues connected to it in our analysis of politics, economy and governance of South Asian states. However, the areas of interest for ISAS comprise not only the states of South Asia - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - but also the Indian Ocean and countries outside the region that are closely connected to South Asia, and the South Asian Diaspora, spread all over the world.
Issue No. 22A (October 2015 – June 2016)
Over a decade has passed since the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) was created as an autonomous research institute within the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2004. The ensuing years have seen ISAS play a leading role in promoting understanding of the South Asian region, and to communicate knowledge and insights about this vital region of the world to policy makers, the business community, academia and civil society, in Singapore and beyond. Our mandate to study contemporary South Asia from a global perspective reflects the increasing economic and political importance of South Asia, and the strong historical links between South Asia and Southeast Asia. As South Asia's resilient markets and strong economic performance continue to buck the global trend of sluggish economic growth, ISAS will endeavour to remain at the forefront of cuttingedge academic and policy research of the region.
Issue No. 21A (April – September 2015)
Strategically located at the heart of a cluster of high-powered think tanks in Heng Mui Keng Terrace at the edge of the NUS campus, the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) is an autonomous research institute, with a mandate to study contemporary South Asia from a global perspective. With its thirty-five researchers and administrators, the ISAS presents a unique combination of functions including research and analysis of social, political, diplomatic and economic trends in South Asia and their global implications, communication of policy analysis to a very large, worldwide body of decision- and opinionmakers and stakeholders, comparative studies and policy analysis, organisation of major events and training of the next generation of talented Singaporeans. The ISAS draws on considerable inhouse expertise in the domains of trade and industry, foreign affairs, governance and civil society of South Asia with area specialisation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Maldives and well eyond the shores into the Bay of Bengal and parts of the Indian Ocean. For specific events, the ISAS draws on its global network, international organisations, universities and think tanks, based on partnership.
Issue No. 20B (July 2014 – March 2015)
Celebrating 50 years of Independence, Singapore is looking for ways to expand its horizons in every sphere of civilised endeavour. Inspired by this spirit, we at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore, re-dedicate ourselves to studying contemporary South Asia from a globalised perspective. It is, therefore, doubly fortuitous that Singapore’s diplomatic relationship with India is also 50-year strong. To mark this historic occasion, ISAS has produced a commemorative volume, tracing the saga of Singapore-India fellowship – in a number of fields – with a great deal of care and candour. I thank Singapore’s former High Commissioner to India, Ambassador See Chak Mun, for this meticulous and forward-looking work......
Issue No. 20A (January – June 2014)
Marking a solemn moment in contemporary history, South Asian leaders came together to witness the swearing-in of Mr Narendra Modi as India’s 15th Prime Minister in New Delhi on 26 May 2014. For us at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in Singapore, the event in New Delhi was doubly significant. Let me amplify the point......
Issue No. 19B (December 2013)
This is the season of elections in South Asia. At the beginning of November 2013, India is bracing for a period of political fireworks and serious debate ahead of a general election. Pakistan, long used to military dominance and praetorian politics, is now busy in trying to soft-land as a born-again democracy. In Bangladesh, it is apparent that an existential battle for democracy is being waged in an atmosphere of heated passions. Sri Lanka, still seeking to leave the worse of its long civil war behind, does have an opportunity to begin a challenging process of putting the house in order. Afghanistan, caught in the contentions of a long countdown for the withdrawal of US troops and a coming presidential election, faces an unpredictable future.
Issue No. 19A (June 2013)
When the elephant (India) and the dragon (China) greet and talk to each other before and after a disconcerting military standoff between them, the world cannot but take note. Both are rising powers on the international stage, although the tag might fit China more so than India as of now. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and China's new President Xi Jinping met in Durban on 27 March 2013. That was before the recent border standoff between these two giant Asian neighbours, and after it ended without a fire-fight, Dr Singh played host to China's new Premier Li Keqiang in New Delhi on 19 and 20 May.
Issue No. 18B (December 2012)
It is a journey through time and space that South Asia, the slim twice-a-year publication of the Singapore-based Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), covers in this issue of December 2012. We have an article from a Pakistani scholar on the ancient Buddhist iconography that belongs to and is being studied in today's Islamic Republic of Pakistan. At the other end of the time-spectrum, there is a political piece by one of our senior scholars on the continuing relevance of the message of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace who fashioned India's struggle for independence in the first half of 20th century. ISAS has explored the niceties of Buddhist iconography and Gandhi's creed of non-violence in two separate public events.
Issue No. 18A (June 2012)
For us at Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in Singapore, it has been a happy season of great celebration since the previous issue of Southa Asia was published. This is amply reflected in this issue, with the Cover Story featuring an interview with ISAS Chairman, Ambassador Gopinath Pillai, who was conferred India's Padma Shri Award on 4 April 2012. We are also happy to record that India has conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award on Singapore's former President, Mr S R Nathan, who has been a great source of inspiration for ISAS
Issue No. 17(May – October 2011)
'South Asia' is back with a refreshed look. In line with our new focus on the South Asian Diaspora, the newsletter brings news, developments and features on the diaspora community. At the same time, it continues to focus on contemporary issues on South Asia.
'South Asia' will be published bi-annually with sharper coverage of events, insights and perspectives of developments in the region.
Issue No. 16 (December 2010)
The last few months have seen mixed developments in South Asia. There has been bad news in the form of unexpected natural disasters of gigantic proportions. On the other hand, there has been good news as well both on the economic and political fronts that have created fresh optimism about the region's future prospects
Issue No. 15 (April 2010)
South Asia enters a new decade amidst several opportunities and challenges. Led by India, the largest economy in the region, economic growth in most of the region has rebounded strongly after a year-long economic downturn. There is growing optimism that India will return to its high growth trajectory in the coming quarters. Bangladesh's economic performance has continued to remain satisfactory despite the global financial crisis and, projections regarding the economy are distinctly upbeat. Sri Lanka's near term economic prospects look bright following an end to prolonged ethnic hostilities and reconstruction initiatives
Issue No. 14 (October 2009)
The global financial crisis resulted in most countries in the South Asian region showing acute signs of vulnerability as they experienced sharp decelerations in their export growth, following declining demands for their products from the West. In this issue, we look at the measures taken by India - its openness to the international economy, efficient banking system and initiatives by the Reserve Bank of India and the government - to cushion the impact of the economic downturn on the country
Issue No. 13 (June 2009)
In the past several months, the South Asian region, like the rest of the world, has had to come to terms with the fallout of the global economic crisis. India, for instance, has witnessed a sharp deceleration in its export growth resulting from declining demands for its products, a slowdown in
Issue No. 12 (Feburary 2009)
This issue highlights a number of critical developments in South Asia in 2008. Pakistan elected a new civilian president in September 2008. However, the transition from former military ruler Parvez Musharraf to elected President Asif Ali Zardari has come admist severe challenges in Pakistan
Issue No. 11 (October 2008)
In this issue, we provide brief analyses of a number of important recent developments in South Asia. As India, like the rest of the world, grapples with rising prices, we look at its policies in tackling inflation and how they are likely to impact Indian politics as the general elections loom.
Issue No. 10 (June 2008)
The rise of food and oil prices has had considerable impact on South Asia, with high inflation hitting all the countries in the region. While certain food prices in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can be controlled by regulating domestic supplies, the economies of South Asia remain exposed to oil and commodity price fluctuations that are linked to global supply and demand.
Issue No. 9 (February 2008)
As 2007 drew to an end, South Asia was featured prominently in news headlines around the world. In India, the Indo-US nuclear deal took a stumble when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government made a surprise announcement that it was going to delay the agreement process of its civilian nuclear deal with the United States as it attempted to gain a domestic consensus. Determined opposition to the deal by the Left coalition partners of the Congress had stalled the progress of what had been onsidered an almost done deal not too long ago. Meanwhile, the Congress failed to dislodge the hold of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the economically-thriving state of Gujarat. Not unexpectedly, the controversial Narendra Modi led the BJP to another term in power in the assembly elections of December 2007, winning 117 seats and nearly 50 percent of the votes
Issue No. 8 (October 2007)
Much has happened in South Asia in recent months. India and Pakistan celebrated 60 years of their existence as independent nations but they have been grappling with several internal challenges. At the same time, parts of South Asia are dealing with extreme flooding caused by incessant monsoons.
Issue No. 7 (June 2007)
I would like to take this opportunity to make an important announcement. Professor Mohan Rao stepped down as Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies on 16 April 2007. He has returned to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I have taken over as Acting Director of the Institute. I am pleased to pen the foreword for this issue of the newsletter.
Issue No. 6 (February 2007)
The three months that just elapsed have been very eventful for South Asia. The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, visited India in the third week of November 2006. The visit, which was the first by a Chinese head of state to India in a decade, is slated to further cement the budding relationship between the two Asian giants. India also moved closer to what is described as a 'strategic' alliance with the United States, as a joint conference of the United States Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the India-U.S. nuclear deal. The merits of the deal remain widely debated. Peace talks between India and Pakistan are moving forward, generating much hope for a lasting solution. owever, in Sri Lanka, the peace process between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been derailed in the wake of the resumption of violence
Issue No. 5 (October 2006)
It is a pleasure to pen this foreword to the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) newsletter "South Asia". I have had the opportunity to read earlier issues of "South Asia" and I am impressed by its coverage of issues and events.
Issue No. 4 (June 2006)
The past few months saw a number of high-level international visits to South Asia. These included the visits by United States President George W. Bush to India and Pakistan; Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, French President Jacque Chirac and Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai to India; Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso to Pakistan; and Dutch Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne to Bangladesh.
Issue No. 3 (February 2006)
In South Asia, the seven member countries met in Dhaka in November 2005 for the 13th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. Three major agreements were signed during the summit. They were on double taxation avoidance, liberalisation of visa regimes for member countries and the creation of a SAARC Arbitration Council. Equally importantly, Afghanistan was recognised as a member of SAARC while Japan and China were given observer status. An assessment of the SAARC Summit is presented in this newsletter.
Issue No. 2 (October 2005)
Over the past few months, a number of important bilateral initiatives were formalised between Singapore and countries in South Asia. During Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's visit in May, Pakistan and Singapore formally endorsed the proposal to sign a joint declaration with ASEAN on cooperation in combating terrorism. Both countries also reaffirmed their commitment to conclude a Free Trade Agreement as soon as possible. In June, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited India to sign the landmark Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. A couple of months later, in August, Singapore signed an Open Skies Agreement with Sri Lanka. Where ties between Singapore and South Asia are concerned, significant strides have indeed been made.
Issue No. 1 (June 2005)
South Asia bewilders by its sheer size. In 2002, the seven countries that make up the region - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - had a combined population of 1.4 billion, accounting for nearly a quarter of world's population. Its size has proven to be a double-edged sword. South Asia is known for its population and poverty, and faces enormous challenges in various aspects of political, social and economic development.
ISAS hopes to establish linkages with the global South Asian diaspora through the South Asian Link (SAL) newsletter. The SAL newsletter provides a platform for the global South Asian diaspora to share their experiences and stories in an interesting, bite-sized format. It also helps in the appreciation and understanding of the diversified South Asian diaspora. The SAL newsletter is part of the South Asian diaspora networking platform, launched by ISAS in November 2009.
Second Issue (March 2011)
A myriad of South Asian communities have long been a feature of the Singaporean social landscape. Many of these 'minorities within a minority' contribute to the vibrant and cosmopolitan culture that Singapore is known for. In keeping with the spirit of the South Asian Link, this issue highlights the resident Bangladeshi and Nepalese communities in Singapore, as well as celebrates the history and contributions of the Singaporean Parsi diaspora as we commemorate with them, the Jamshedi Navroze, or Parsi New Year......
First Issue (April 2010)
In the past few years, Singapore has been the location for a flurry of activities connected with the worldwide South Asian diaspora. In 2006, the National University of Singapore produced the Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora, probably the most comprehensive and authoritative account of the global South Asian diaspora to date. Several communities organised and held international meetings in Singapore. For instance, in 2007, the 14th International Sindhi Sammelan witnessed about 650 Sindhis from all over the world converging in Singapore for their annual conference. .....