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Research Themes
Security and International Relations
Research Lead :
Professor Chilamkuri Raja Mohan
Visiting Research Professor
The research programme seeks to study and publish on the emerging security imperatives in the South Asian region. It proposes to research on various issues ranging from border conflicts, arms trade and nuclear proliferation to conflict resolution and peace building. It also examines South Asia’s relations with the South East Asian states as well as the manner in which states in South Asia interact with major global powers like Japan, China and the United States.
Four key research areas form the core of this program. The first is South Asia’s relations with the Southeast Asian region in the realm of geopolitics, defence and diplomacy. The second South Asia’s relations with countries in East Asia, specifically in the fields of maritime security and regional multilateral institutions. The third core is an examination of South Asia’s regional security, looking predominantly at how states in South Asia frame their bilateral relationships. The fourth core comprises of India’s relationship with major powers in international politics, consisting of relations with China, Japan and the United States.
Research areas:
  • South Asia-Southeast Asia Relations - geopolitics, defence and diplomacy
  • South Asia’s interface with East Asia - predominantly in maritime security issues
  • South Asian regional Security - border conflicts, defence policies and regional co-operation)
  • India and the Great Powers – the India-US-Japan trilateral relationship

Multilateral and International Linkages
Research Lead :
Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury
Principal Research Fellow
The programme focuses on how the region relates to the major international institutions and key global players in contemporary times. South Asia’s political, economic and military significance is growing. This has two-fold ramifications. On one hand, South Asia is moving close to the centre-stage of the international scene. On the other, it is recalibrating its relationships with the rest of the world.
The programme examines how South Asia helps to reshape the norms and activities of major international organisations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It studies the important roles the countries of the region are playing in spreading global standards and values throughout the world as well as their contributions in peace-building and peacekeeping. Additionally, it seeks to analyse the political, strategic and economic relations the nations of South Asia have with major states such as the United States, China, Japan and members of the European Union. The programme will assess the impact of its burgeoning military clout on the rest of the world. It aims to monitor the policy dimensions of South Asian states with regards to emerging thematic issues like climate change, poverty alleviation, development and non-proliferation. It also studies regional relations and the ways and means of strengthening regional cooperation as well as linkages with other regional organisations.
Research areas:
  • International relations theory and practice, and the South Asian state system
  • Global thematic issues and South Asian responses
  • South Asia’s relationship with multilateral organisations
  • Regional integration and relationship with regional bodies
  • Bilateral relations with major powers

Politics and Governance
Research Lead :
Dr Ronojoy Sen
Senior Research Fellow
The programme seeks to identify and explain key issues in the domestic politics and governmental practices of the countries of South Asia. Though the programme analyses important events and issues as they emerge, it intends to focus on some select themes. One ongoing area of research and analysis is national and important state/provincial elections in all the South Asian countries. In addition, the cluster has identified three areas where research would be conducted in collaboration with other institutions and external researchers. First, under the broad rubric of ‘Domestic Politics in South Asia’, the programme examines several topics. These include minority-majority relations, social development indicators, class and politics, state and society, ethnic movements and internal security threats. Second, the programme studies comparative state politics in India. With the rise of regional parties over the past two decades, Indian federalism has undergone a structural change. The cluster focuses on the more important Indian states to meaningfully explain this change. Third, the programme analyses India’s democratic institutions, including political parties, the Parliament, the Election Commission, the judiciary and audit bodies.
Alongside the three major projects, the programme also focuses on projects centred on individual researchers. Primary research on urban development is a priority. Public sanitation and waste management is high on the agenda of the new government in India. The youth bulge in the region and its aspirations will be another area of focus. The programme  also analyses the role of traditional media as well as social media in South Asia.
Research areas:
  • Domestic politics in South Asia
  • Comparative state politics in India
  • India’s democratic institutions
  • Urban development
  • Media and culture

Trade and Economics
Research Lead :
Dr Amitendu Palit
Senior Research Fellow
The emphasis of the programme is on studying the significance of emerging regional trade architectures for South Asian countries. New trade compacts in the Asia-Pacific, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), are re-writing regional trade rules and governance standards. This programme researches the implications of the new rules and standards and looks closely at the key aspects influencing trade negotiations. The other core areas of research focus include integration of Indian states with global trade and business, the comparative positioning of India and other South Asian countries in regional value chains and bilateral trade and investment linkages between India and Southeast Asian countries.
Research areas:
  • TPP and RCEP: Structures, issues and negotiations
  • External economic integration of Indian states
  • India-Singapore trade and investment relations
  • Indian and Chinese approaches to international investment negotiations
  • India and South Asia in regional value chains (RVCs)

South Asian Diaspora
Research Lead :
Professor Subrata K Mitra
Director; and Visiting Research Professor
This research programme focuses on the study of South Asian Diaspora and Transnationalism, and as well South Asia-Southeast Asia/Singapore relations. ISAS has an established reputation in the abovementioned fields, with several important works already published including: The Encyclopedia of the Sri Lankan Diaspora; The Political Economy of South Asian Diaspora; and Diaspora Engagement and Development in South Asia.
The programme is committed to building on its established scholarly reputation in these areas. With reference to South Asian Diaspora and Transnationalism, the programme focuses on key themes, where scholarly literature has remained relatively under-developed, for example: diaspora and transnationalism in port cities; migrant remittances in South Asia; international migration and development in South Asia; and Hindutva Nationalism in the Diaspora. In regard to Southeast Asia/Singapore relations with South Asian states, ISAS is currently engaged in projects focused on India-ASEAN relations. The programme intends to further develop its competency through specific and in-depth research of South Asian and Southeast Asian country-to-country bilateral relations.
Research areas:
  • India – Southeast Asia/Singapore relations
  • South Asian diaspora/transnationalism
  • Transnationalism and development in South Asia
  • Transnational migrant organisations

Last modified on 26 August 2015