Special Reports – NUS Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS)
​​Special Reports

ISAS publishes a series of working papers which are long-term studies on trends and issues in South Asia.


Special Reports: 58 : Analysing the United States’ Vision for the Indo-Pacific

Ankush Ajay Wagle February 17, 2019
The Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and the AtlanticCouncil, United States, jointly organised a workshop on ‘Analysing the United States’ Vision for the Indo-Pacific’ on 20 November 2018. The discussion hosted experts who discussed the ‘Indo-Pacific’ concept of the American administration, which seeks to promote economics, governance and security in Asia.


Special Reports: 57 : Reflections on the Partitions of India and Palestine after 70 Years

Nazneen Mohsina December 4, 2018
The Institute of South Asian Studies and the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore jointly organised a workshop on ‘Reflections on the Partition of India and Palestine after 70 Years’ on 15 August 2018. The workshop hosted speakers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States who discussed the dynamics of the partition in India and Palestine after 70 years and drew parallels between their respective political histories

Special Reports: India-Singapore FinTech Cooperation: Opportunities and Challenges

Dipinder S Randhawa, Chan Jia Hao, Vani Swarupa Murali October 24, 2018
Singapore and India lead developments in the use of FinTech – disruptive innovation that is changing the way traditional financial institutions do business. The Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore organised a Roundtable on ‘India-Singapore FinTech Cooperation: Opportunities and Challenges’ on 3 October 2018 to better understand how Singapore and India could leverage their complementary strengths in FinTech and the digital economy, to strengthen collaboration and mutual benefits between the two growing FinTech players.

Special Reports: 56 : Bangladesh: Challenges and Opportunities

Silvia Tieri July 12, 2018
The Institute of South Asian Studies and the COSMOS Foundation of Dhaka, Bangladesh, organised a panel discussion on “Bangladesh: Challenges and Opportunities” in Singapore on 5 March 2018. The event provided the Singapore audience insights into the political, economic and social landscapes in Bangladesh. The panel featured Bangladeshi experts in the field of public policy, entrepreneurship, development and women empowerment from both the government and the private sector. The panel discussion highlighted the progress made by Bangladesh and the various economic opportunities offered by the country. At the same time, it highlighted some key challenges that Bangladesh needs to tackle so as to move to the next level of development.

Special Reports: 55 : Bangladesh: The Next Level of Development

Silvia Tieri July 6, 2018
The Institute of South Asian Studies and the Bangladesh High Commission in Singapore organised the panel discussion on “Bangladesh: the Next Level of Development” on 15 May 2018. The panel examined Bangladesh’s key achievements and possible challenges in light of its graduation from the status of a least developed country to that of a developing country.

Special Reports: 54 : Maritime Governance and South Asia

Jivanta Schoettli, Roshni Kapur and Alfred Lien June 26, 2018
The ISAS book launch and panel discussion on ‘Maritime Governance and South Asia’ was held in Singapore on 4 June 2018. Organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, the edited book, ‘Maritime Governance and South Asia: Trade, Security and Sustainable Development in the Indian Ocean’, was launched during the event. The launch was followed by an engaging panel discussion with four distinguished panellists from the maritime and security domain.

Special Reports: 53 : Emerging South Asia: Politics, Economy and International Relations

Taisha Grace Antony, Chan Jia Hao, Roshni Kapur, Faiza Saleem, Silvia Tieri and Ankush Ajay Wagle May 2, 2018
The 12th ISAS International Conference on South Asia was held in Singapore on 6 April 2018. Organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, the theme of the conference was ‘Emerging South Asia: Politics, Economy and International Relations’. It explored the three determinants of stability – politics; trade and economy; and international relations and security – to identify the potential, prospects and pitfalls facing the region.

Special Reports: 52 : Security and Governance in South Asia

Jivanta Schottli and Faiza Saleem April 26, 2018
The workshop on ‘Security and Governance in South Asia’ was organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, in collaboration with the Centre for Public Affairs, New Delhi, India, on 9 March 2018. South Asia is a complex region with a number of difficult security challenges. These were discussed in terms of their impact on economy, trade and foreign policy of countries in the region, and the effort by the states to enhance governance as a pre-requisite for security.

Special Reports: 51 : The Belt and Road Initiative: Politics, Potentials and Partnerships

Taisha Grace Antony and Chan Jia Hao March 19, 2018
The symposium on “The Belt and Road Initiative – Politics, Potentials and Partnerships” was organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, in collaboration with the Pathfinder Foundation, Sri Lanka, in Singapore on 29 January 2018. Regional connectivity and infrastructure capacities in Asia are poised to change remarkably following the implementation of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The symposium reflected on the evolving characteristics of the BRI, its political and security challenges and its enormous economic potentials.

Special Reports: 50 : Revisiting Globalisation: Comparing Country Experiences From South Asia And The World

Amitendu Palit and Taisha Grace Antony February 5, 2018
The workshop on “Revisiting Globalisation: Comparing Country Experiences from South Asia and the World” was organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies, in collaboration with the Berkeley APEC Studies Centre, University of California, Berkeley, on 12 October 2017 in Singapore. Anti-globalisation leaders and agendas have secured political legitimacy across the world today. The workshop examined this political trend and the prospects of its sustenance by analysing experiences of managing globalisation from Asia, particularly South Asia, and the United States and Europe. The workshop aimed to determine if the antiglobalisation narrative could be countered by positive economic and political illustrations drawn from beneficiaries of globalisation in different parts of the world.

Special Reports: 49 : Joint ESI-ISAS Conference Towards A Low Carbon Asia: The Challenges Of Ensuring Efficient And Sustainable Energy

Elena Reshetova and Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy February 1, 2018
The world is undergoing a low-carbon energy transition, which presents both significant opportunities and challenges to Asian economies. Besides the shift towards greater emphasis on the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, there is increasing desire for a coordinated approach and a closer international cooperation. This report highlights key points on these aspects which were deliberated upon in an international conference jointly organised by the Energy Studies Institute and the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore in November 2017.


Special Reports: 48 : ISAS-ADRI Roundtable: Political Economy of Development in Eastern India

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy November 13, 2017
The Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore, and the Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute organised a joint roundtable on “Political Economy of Development in Eastern India” in Singapore on 25 October 2017. In spite of emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India’s regional growth performance has been uneven. This is reflected in a variety of factors such as income distribution, poverty levels, population pressure on land, over-dependence on agriculture, unemployment and infrastructure deficit, among others. Featuring scholars from both the institutes, the roundtable examined a number of key issues facing Eastern India, including the government’s approach to addressing regional disparity, efforts to accelerate the region’s development, and potential opportunities for cooperation.

Special Reports: 47 : ISAS-KIEP Joint Symposium “India, Japan and South Korea: Political and Economic Cooperation”

Amresh Gunasingham November 13, 2017
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to strengthen the country’s political and economic cooperation with Japan and South Korea in the light of his ‘Act East’ initiative. Similarly, the two countries are also making efforts to enhance their relationship with India in various sectors such as infrastructure, maritime security and manufacturing. The Institute of South Asian Studies organised a symposium on “India, Japan and Korea: Political and Economic Cooperation”, in partnership with the Korea Institute of Economic Policy, on 25 September 2017. Speakers from the academia, corporate sector and business organisations in Singapore, Japan and South Korea addressed a number of important questions relating to economic and infrastructure cooperation, regional maritime security, investment in India, foreign aid and the relevance of India to Japan and South Korea.

Special Reports: 46 : ISAS Workshop: The State of Uttar Pradesh: Indian State Elections and Their Implications

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy November 13, 2017
The importance of the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) to Indian politics cannot be overstated. UP is India’s largest and most populous state and success in UP is often seen as a barometer for the national polls. The State assumes even greater importance today since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 71 of its 282 seats in the directly-elected Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) from UP in the 2014 national elections. The number of members that UP sends to the Lok Sabha is 80, the largest for any State, out of a total of 543. Hence, the BJP’s overwhelming victory in the 2017 UP Assembly elections holds important lessons for national politics as well as for the BJP’s prospects in the 2019 national elections. The Institute of South Asian Studies organised a workshop on “The State of Uttar Pradesh: Indian State Elections and their Implications” in Singapore on 12 April 2017 to discuss the UP elections.

Special Reports: 45 : ISAS Workshop: “Pakistan at 70: Politics, Economy, Sociology”

Silvia Tieri October 16, 2017
The year 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Institute of South Asian Studies organised a workshop on “Pakistan at 70: Politics, Economy and Sociology” in Singapore on 11 September 2017. The event provided a platform to discuss the country’s political transformation, economic growth and societal issues in the seven decades since its independence.

Special Reports: 44 : Towards a ‘People’s SAARC’: The ISAS-COSATT-KAS Joint Workshop on “Re-Energising the SAARC Process”

Silvia Tieri September 27, 2017
The workshop on “Re-Energising the SAARC Process” took place in Singapore on 21 August 2017. Featuring eminent scholars and former policy makers from Singapore and the South Asian region, the event examined the current deadlock in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and explored ways in which it could be revitalised and transformed into a ‘People’s SAARC’. The workshop was jointly organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies, the Consortium of South Asian Think-Tanks and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung of Germany.

Special Reports: 43 : BIPP-ISAS Joint Seminar on “South Asia and Global Change”

Silvia Tieri May 15, 2017
On 3 April 2017, the Pakistan-based Burki Institute of Public Policy (BIPP) hosted a seminar, in association with the Singapore-based Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), on “South Asia and Global Change” in Lahore (Pakistan). The event was organised in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that the two partnering think-tanks signed in 2016.

Special Reports: 42 : 11th ISAS International Conference on South Asia: Contemporary South Asia: Regional Dynamics and Changing Global Politics

Subrata Kumar Mitra and Jivanta Schoettli with Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, Taisha Grace Antony, Liyana Othman, Faiza Saleem, Silvia Tieri, and Ankush Ajay Wagle April 3, 2017
On 3rd March 2017 ISAS held its 11th International Conference on South Asia. Bringing together twenty-one speakers from eleven countries on four panels, the participants deliberated on a number of themes related to the overarching topic of, Contemporary South Asia: regional dynamics and changing global politics. The guest of honour for the conference was Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan who spoke on the past, present and future of South Asia and South East Asia in terms of linkages between the two regions and the potential for furthering collaboration. Researchers from the Institute of South Asian Studies introduced the state of play in terms of three prisms: multilateralism, trade and the Indian Ocean

Special Reports: 41 : Security and Governance in the Indian Ocean

Liyana Othman and Faiza Saleem February 11, 2017
The inaugural ISAS Distinguished Visitors Programme Public Forum on the Indian Ocean was held to discuss evolving maritime dynamics between countries in the Indian Ocean region. Over the past couple of decades, the world's center of political and economic activity has shifted eastwards and the Indian Ocean has evolved into a global intersection point for trade, energy, environment and geostrategic concerns.

Special Reports: 40 : Maritime Governance in South Asia: The Potential for Trade, Security and Sustainable Development

Jivanta Schottli and Liyana Othman February 1, 2017
On 29 and 30 November 2016, an international workshop on maritime governance in South Asia was held to discuss evolving maritime dynamics of trade, security and sustainable development. Maritime governance is integral to South Asia's geography, economy and politics given the enormous marine space that encompasses the Subcontinent. Five out of the eight South Asian countries have direct access to the ocean. Three empirical questions guided the proceedings: (1) What are the drivers of maritime connectivity projects and trade, (2) which institutions enable transnational cooperation and, (3) is there a change in the direction of investments into sustainable development through the 'blue economy'?

Special Reports: 39 : Current Trends in China-South Asia Relations

Srikanth Thaliyakkattil January 9, 2017
The need for a closer engagement between the South Asian countries, individually and collectively with China was the outcome of the scholarly exchanges that took place at an international workshop, jointly organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS, NUS), Singapore and the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo, held in Colombo (Sri Lanka) on 5 and 6 December 2016. The workshop brought together some leading diplomats, policy analysts and academics I the field of South Asian Studies, Chinese Studies and policy analysis. The paper reports the views and ideas expressed on the political, economic, diplomatic and strategic aspects of China-South Asia relationship.


Special Reports: 38 : India’s Foreign Policy and the ‘Modi Doctrine’

Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, Research Associate at the ISAS November 2, 2016
India today is far more engaged in diplomacy than ever before. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country is actively building relations with other states to harness their mutual commercial and cultural strengths. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in a landslide victory in May 2014 under the leadership of Modi. Both Indian and foreign observers of Indian foreign policy had a limited understanding of Modi and the ‘BJP approach’ with regard to India’s external engagements in May 2014. Prime Minister Modi’s outlook on global affairs retains the main thrust of India’s approach to the world, yet there is a nuanced aim of linking India’s foreign policy to domestic transformation under his leadership. While, his policies are designed to attract foreign capital and technology, and seek foreign markets for Indian products, they are also geared towards a closer linkage of regional stability, peace and prosperity. Although, he comes under criticism from some quarters for his frequent foreign trips, most agree that Modi has pursued India’s foreign policy with exceptional dynamism. At times he seems to pursue continuity, while at other times he demonstrates a marked change in policy. This raises some general questions. Is there an emergence of a ‘Modi Doctrine’ in India’s foreign policy? Is there an evolution of new paradigms in India’s external engagements? These issues were discussed at an ISAS panel discussion in Singapore on 20 October 2016.

Special Reports: 37 : US Presidential Election and the Indian Diaspora

Amitendu Palit, Senior Research Fellow and Research Lead (Trade and Economics) at the ISAS, Ms Taisha Grace Antony is Research Assistant at ISAS October 19, 2016
On 11 October 2016, ISAS hosted a panel discussion of distinguished speakers on the theme, 'US Presidential Elections and the Indian Diaspora'. The forthcoming Presidential elections in the US are witnessing intensive debates on the role and impact of immigrants. Indians form a sizeable part of the immigrant population in the US, and over time, they have not only expanded in size and socio-economic status, but have also become increasingly visible actors and stakeholders in US domestic politics. The Indian diaspora has also been a major strategic factor in shaping the current trajectory of US-India bilateral relations. The ISAS panel discussion covered a wide range of topics in the context of the Presidential elections and the Indian community in the US, including its political and social behaviour, economic mobility, and engagement with US domestic institutions. The discussion also covered the issues in the immigration debate and the prospects of new policies influencing future skilled Indian migration to the US.

Special Reports: 36 : Workshop on ‘Citizenship and the South Asian Diaspora in the age of Globalization’, 19 – 20 July 2016

Subrata Kumar Mitra and Jivanta Schottli July 27, 2016
In a world where an unprecedented number of people are on the move, as a result of hardship and in search of opportunity, the subject of Diaspora and Citizenship is of particular importance. As part of the third South Asian Diaspora Convention which was organised by ISAS, July 18-19, 2016, at the Raffles City Convention Centre, three panels dwelt on this general theme. They raised issues focused on the definition of the key terms in a discourse that surrounds academic and public discussion about the conditions of life amongst the diaspora, and raised complex questions about the role of the nation state, citizenship and public policy. With the spread of global media and expansive social networks, citizenship is not just about legal rights and entitlement. Thanks to these developments, citizenship has become as much about the moral construction of identity and obligation. Hence in our global and connected times, the question of what makes a citizen has become relevant again.

Special Reports: 35 : India under Narendra Modi: A Midterm Appraisal of the BJP Government

Jivanta Schottli June 6, 2016
On 26 May 2016, exactly two years since India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office, ISAS hosted a panel of distinguished Indian speakers on the theme, India under Modi: A Mid-Term Appraisal. For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the sixteenth general elections marked its emergence as a national party, giving the BJP a clear majority and a strong mandate to deliver inclusive development and good governance - two of its stated priorities. Taking over after 10 years of Congress-led coalition governments, the expectations of change were sky-high. The momentum and energy generated by the election, and captured in the persona of Narendra Modi himself, warranted a serious assessment of the achievements of a government two years into the job. Covering a wide spectrum of topics, across politics, governance, the economy and foreign policy, the panel brought out the nuances and challenges of how to assess change, taking into account the perceived stalemate of previous decades, and what to use as its benchmark. Should it be the pace or quality of change measured in terms of policy and output; effectiveness and impact captured through socio economic indices; the strengthening and weakening of institutions or the intangibles of reviving qualities such as professionalism, integrity and civic consciousness

Special Reports: 34 : State Election Results in India: Gains for the BJP and Regional Parties

Ronojoy Sen May 25, 2016
The results of the elections in four States brought cheer to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is going to form the government in Assam for the first time. Regional parties too held their own in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and the Left in Kerala. The results were a disappointment for the Congress as it was voted out of power in Assam and Kerala.

Special Reports: 33 : Evolution of the Modern State in India

Jayant Singh March 31, 2016
The Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) convened a two-day workshop in Singapore on 25 February 2016 to discuss the core concepts of Kautilya's Arthashastra and compare them with the politico-strategic writings of Sun-Tzu (The Art of War), Niccolo Machiavelli (Discorsi and Il Principe), Persia's Nizam ul-Mulk ('The Book of Government') and the political philosopher Barani (Fatwa-i-Jahandari). This international workshop was organised jointly with the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), Delhi (India). The central endeavour at the workshop was to understand the manifest and latent influence of Kautilyan thought on the foreign policy and domestic politics of South Asia. The workshop also tried to establish whether there had been a 'trans-cultural flow' of Kautilyan thoughtfigures beyond the South Asian subcontinent.

Special Reports: 32 : The State of Democracy in South Asia. Aspiration Quotients

Ayesha Kalpani Wijayalath March 31, 2016
The Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) convened a workshop in Singapore on 20 January 2016 to discuss and compare the cross-country findings of the State of Democracy in South Asia (SDSA) project. This international workshop was held in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi and Lokniti, a research network based in India.

Special Reports: 31 : Diversity, Equality, Citizenship and Indian Muslims

Riaz Hassan , Visiting Research Professor at ISAS January 12, 2016
This Special Report outlines the trend of discussions that took place during the two-day workshop on the theme of 'Diversity, Equality, Citizenship and Indian Muslims'. The workshop, organised in Singapore on 18 and 19 September 2015, focused on the varied nuances of the socio-economic and political situation of India's significant minority of Muslim population in the light of the Sachar Committee recommendations and the evolving ground realities.


Special Reports: 30 : Defence Expenditure and Accountability

Vinod Rai, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at ISAS November 11, 2015
The paper makes a case for modernising the audit and accounting procedures in India's defence establishment in a manner that could also harmonise the basic objectives of the mandarins of the country's Defence Accounts Department and Armed Forces.

Special Reports: 29 : India’s Infrastructure Story

Gopinath Pillai, Chairman of ISAS October 2, 2015
The importance of states in India in building its infrastructure has become critical, given the rapid urbanisation of the country and the growing pressure on civic facilities in towns and cities. In this context, the latest and most significant aspect of Singapore's involvement in infrastructure development in India is in the new capital city being built for the reconstituted State of Andhra Pradesh - Amaravati. Being developed as a 'smart city', the project is expected to be an example of modern world-class urban infrastructure.

Special Reports: 28 : India’s Worlds of Waste

Robin Jeffrey , Visiting Research Professor at ISAS September 17, 2015
The sheer magnitude of the social, political and technological challenges in implementing India's new national priority of waste management, set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has attracted global attention. Some practical aspects of addressing these challenges have been discussed at a workshop organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore.

Special Reports: 27 : The Iran Nuclear Agreement

Shahid Javed Burki, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at ISAS July 31, 2015
While the fine print of the latest multilateral agreement on the Iranian nuclear question has been projected by US President Barack Obama in quite modest terms of stopping Tehran in its tracks of making the atom bomb, the author envisions a possible regional scenario of economic benefits for Iran as well as Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

Special Reports: 26 : Audit, Good Governance and Sustainable Development

Vinod Rai , Visiting Senior Research Fellow at ISAS July 14, 2015
Democracy is a system in which the rule of law is allowed to take its course and the ultimate goal of the government is the pursuit of the collective good. The auditor, keeping vigil on the functioning of all the institutions of the executive, is a key player in this process. Such an atmosphere will ensure that economic growth is inclusive.

Special Reports: 25 : The Troubled Democracy of Bangladesh

Ali Riaz , Professor and Chair, Department of Politics and Government, IL, USA. July 14, 2015
Is democracy in Bangladesh on a reverse course? Is there a culture of intolerance being engendered by deliberate design? Will creeping extremisms create an inevitable schism within the nation? The paper provides valuable insights into the salient issues of politics in contemporary Bangladesh.

Special Reports: 24 : Strengthening Rule of Law Responses to Counter Violent Extremism

May 14, 2015
Violence and extremism in South Asia, including potential threats posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), remain a concern for many regional and international observers.1 Three South Asian countries-Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India-are among those with the highest reported incidents of terrorism. 2 Reports of foreign fighters from South Asia have prompted concerns that ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria and the establishment of the self-proclaimed caliphate by ISIL serve as a compelling narrative for potential recruits.3 Even senior Taliban commanders and members in Pakistan and Afghanistan have reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIL and formed a new faction, Wilayat Khorasan, named after a historic region spanning Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as portions of India and other neighboring countries.4 Al-Qaida, which views ISIL as its primary competitor, established an affiliate organization in South Asia, presumably in an effort to remain relevant in the region.

Special Reports: 23: Pakistan in China’s Eyes: Pawn, Pivot or a Pointer to its World View?

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow, ISAS May 6, 2015
China’s engagement with Pakistan serves as a pointer to the way Beijing is likely to deal with the rest of the world as it redefines its pivotal global position.

Special Reports: 22: Singapore-India Relations: Focus on Shaping a Shared Future

P S Suryanarayana, Editor (Current Affairs), ISAS February 11, 2015
Singapore’s President, His Excellency Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, launched a special edition of a book on the city-state’s relations with India, at a function in New Delhi on 10 February 2015 – in commemoration of 50 years of diplomatic engagement between these two sovereign states. The function was organised by the Singaporebased Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore. Titled ‘Singapore and India: Towards a Shared Future’, the ISAS special publication traces the history and organic evolution of the multi-dimensional relationship between the city-state of Singapore and a resurgent India – in the specific context of the current celebration of half-acentury of interactions between these two countries.


Special Reports: 21: Clean India! Miles to Go Before We Sweep?

Robin Jeffrey, Visiting Research Professor, ISAS November 21, 2014
Everyone from Narendra Modi to the New York Times has pointed well-washed fingers at the sorry state of public sanitation and waste management in India. In his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2014, Prime Minister Modi vowed to create a Clean India, a Swachh Bharat, in which girls’ school would have usable toilets, the Ganga would be clean, rubbish would be cleared and pan stains would not mark the stairwells of public buildings.

Special Reports: 20: Representing Bangladesh: My Years at The UN

Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow, ISAS November 21, 2014
The practice of the art of being a diplomat has always been fraught with great circumspection. It is one of the hallmarks, indeed mainstays of the profession. Anecdotes on this score abound. For instance there is this story of Talleyrand, the Grand Old Man of French diplomacy in the nineteenth century. As a retired person, but still very involved in domestic and foreign issues, he was entertaining guests one evening in his Paris apartment. The year was 1830, the month was February, and the second French Revolution was breaking out. There was noise of fighting, emanating from the streets below. Talleyrand walked the steps to the window, with some effort as he had a game foot, and looked down to see. "It seems we are winning!" he observed. "But who are WE, Excellence?" his visitors asked, somewhat puzzled. "Hush!" replied Talleyrand: "I shall tell you tomorrow!!"

Special Reports: 19: India’s Current Macroeconomic Situation

Duvvuri Subbarao, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, ISAS July 8, 2014
The Narendra Modi Government in India has inherited a very challenging macroeconomic situation.

Special Reports: 18 : Youth and ‘Refo-lution’? Protest Politics in India and the Global Context

John Harriss, Visiting Research Professor, ISAS April 14, 2014
The purpose of this paper is to set research on youth, social change and politics in India, conducted by the Singapore-based Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in collaboration with partners in India, 2 into the context of the patterns and possibilities of what we may call the ‘protest politics’ of the present. The paper begins with commentary on the wider global context, where we observe apparently comparable patterns of political action, in which youth have been centrally involved. The parallels and similarities should not be emphasised too much, but the events appear to involve some combination of the following features:


Special Reports: 15 – Skill Development Initiatives in India

Sandhya Srinivasan July 11, 2013
Structural changes in the Indian economy have precipitated changes in the patterns of demand for industrial labour. Recent trends in the composition of employment indicate that the Indian workforce is migrating from the agriculture sector to the industry-and-services sectors. India has one of the youngest populations in the world, a trend that is expected to continue until 2040. However, India's labour productivity is much lower than that of other Asian economies. A structural shift towards higher-productivity sectors requires up-skilling of the labour force in order to ensure the country's inclusive economic growth. Skill development has emerged as a national priority and a number of skill-training initiatives have been undertaken over the last four years. In this context, the role of international players in the Indian skill domain is explored in this paper.

Special Reports: 13 : Indias Strategic Autonomy Mantra

P S Suryanarayana July 5, 2013
As China and the United States seek to refashion today’s unsettled global order, India remains committed to staying the course of “strategic autonomy”. A political message of this magnitude has been spelt out by India’s External Affairs Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, during a dialogue session under the auspices of the Singapore-based Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS). It is debatable whether such a pronouncement can or will silence the critics who have never tired of seeing India as a rising power that might fall because of its failure to conceptualise and act on the basis of a “strategic vision”. However, a sense of urgency has been thrust upon India in the emerging global context of China and the US trying to move towa

Special Reports: 12 : Manifestoes and Political Preferences in Pakistan

Shahid Javed Burki April 24, 2013
As Pakistan heads towards another general election on 11 May 2013, the obvious question to ask is whether the new leadership groups will be able to pull the country back from the abyss at which it stands and set it on a course that would bring political and social stability and with it economic progress. The country faces many problems. It still has a political system that is not fully defined in terms of the locus of policymaking. In this context, the role of the military remains unclear as does the relationship between the president and the parliament. How the recently-empowered provinces will conduct their affairs remains to be clarified in the light of the 18th Amendment that was enacted in April 2010. The country has to tackle the problem posed by the rise of Islamic extremism. It must not only bring the dissidents into the political fold but also ensure that all minorities are granted full constitutional and human rights. The economy is in a state of serious stress. What can be done to put it on a higher growth trajectory that can be sustained over time? How should the country refashion its relations with the outside world so as to reduce its isolation from international community? How should it take advantage of the rapidly changing global economy and political order? At this time, Pakistan is essentially a bystander as enormous change is taking place all around its borders. 1 Mr Shahid Javed Burki is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), an autonomous research institute at the National University of Singapore. He can be contacted at sjburki@yahoo.com. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ISAS. During a professional career spanning over half a century, Mr Burki has held a number of senior positions in Pakistan and at the World Bank. He was the Director of China Operations at the World Bank from 1987 to 1994 and the Vice President of Latin America and the Caribbean Region at the World Bank from 1994 to 1999. On leave of absence from the Bank he was Pakistan's Finance Minister, 1996-97. 2 The May elections will contribute to the reshaping of the political order in Pakistan. This will matter not only for the country but also have consequences for the western part of the Muslim world. Most countries in this area are engaged in deep political and economic transformation. Some, like Egypt and Tunisia, are attempting to fashion political systems that can accommodate Islamic groups that have been, for decades, attempting to create legitimate political presence for themselves. They would also like to wean their economies from Western financial support. Some, like Turkey, are engaged in establishing civilian primacy in governance, narrowing the space available to their militaries. The political order in Iran is attempting to find space for the non-religious elements in a system that has been dominated since the 1979 Islamic revolution by the clerics. And Afghanistan will need to figure out how an exceptionally militant Islamic group can live in political harmony and within a constitutional framework that is acceptable to the entire citizenry. Pakistan is involved in finding workable solutions to all these unresolved issues. It is moving simultaneously in a process of transition and transformation in all these areas. This paper looks at one aspect of the on-going Pakistani experiment: how the three main political parties will address these various issues.


Special Reports: 06 : China-India Media Mediation

July 3, 2012
The India-China relationship is one of the most significant bilateral relationships of the 21st century. While the economic and strategic aspects of this equation have long been debated, the role of the media on both sides is much less understood. Together, the two countries constitute the world's largest media market and the day-to-day concerns of media on both sides can have serious consequences for the future of international relations and for daily diplomacy and national perceptions in China and India. To better understand the evolving role of the media in the India-China relationship, ISAS organised the 'China-India Media Mediation' workshop on 17and18 May 2012. It brought together senior representatives from the Chinese and Indian media and senior academics from Singapore, Australia, United States, Canada, China and India.

Special Reports: 05 : Asean-India Relations – Future Directions

S D Muni See Chak Mun May 25, 2012
East Asia has always occupied a prominent place in independent India's strategic perspective, an outcome of India's civilisational roots and its long history of commercial engagement with East Asian countries. In the 1930s, Nehru had toyed with the idea of forging an "Eastern Federation" in which China, Burma (now Myanmar), Malaya (now Malaysia), and Siam (now Thailand) were conceived as prospective members. 3 In the inaugural Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi in March 1947 Nehru again reiterated the significance of Southeast Asia in India's strategy to forge Asian solidarity.


Special Reports: 04: Email – Explaining South Asia’s Relative Economic Backwardness

Shahid Javed Burki September 6, 2011
Economists have now begun to accept that their discipline - even when two of its components, microeconomics and macroeconomics, are put together - does not fully explain all human behaviour. It also falls well short of providing an all-encompassing theory to explain the wealth and poverty of nations. In 1984, economics Nobel laureate George Stigler suggested that economics was on its way to becoming the queen of social sciences. He called his discipline an 'imperial science' which will conquer the entire land of social sciences. In 2006, an American economist published a book titled Freakonomics that became an instant bestseller. The reviewers applauded the book for using principles of economics to explain daily life.

Special Reports: 03: South Asian Diasporas

Shahid Javed Burki July 19, 2011
'Migration has shaped our world and will define our future' is the title of a recently published book that uses a number of new tools of research, including genetic tests, to trace the history of the movement of people since the birth of mankind.2 One conclusion the three authors of the book reach is that migration has always brought large rewards not only for those who were directly involved in it, that is, the migrants, it has also benefited the receiving and sending countries. It is, therefore, not surprising that the number of international migrants has doubled in the last quarter century to more than 200 million.


Special Reports: 02: Email – India’s Asia Policy – A Late Look East

Archana Pandya and David M. Malone August 25, 2010
Since the early 1990s, under the thrust of its 'Look East' policy, India's ties with its Asian neighbours to the East have expanded significantly. After briefly describing India's historical connections with East and Southeast Asia and their place in India's foreign policy thinking until the 1990s, this report details India's economic, political, geo-strategic, and 'soft-power' ties with the region since the end of the Cold War. Although India's concerted thrust eastward has resulted in a thicker web of interactions, its medium and long-term strategy towards the region and its individual countries remains tentative and is still evolving. Silent competition with China is often present. India has not yet made the best of its soft-power assets in the region and can do much more on this front.

Special Reports: 01 : Nuclear Power in India

Himanshu Vishnoi and S. Narayan April 16, 2010
Nuclear power supplied 4,340 MW (2.8%) out of 1,57,230 MW of India's electricity in 2009-10 as on 31 January 2010, and this will increase steadily as imported uranium becomes available and new plants come on line. Some 300 reactor-years of operation had been achieved by mid 2009. India's fuel situation, with shortage of fossil fuels, is driving the nuclear investment for electricity. Since 2004, the target for nuclear power has been to provide 20 GW by 2020. In 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to this as "modest" and capable of being "doubled with the opening up of international cooperation." However, it is evident that even the 20 GW target will require substantial uranium imports. Late in 2008, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) projected 22 GW on line by 2015, and the government was talking about having 50 GW of nuclear power operating by 2050. In June 2009, the NPCIL said it aimed for 63 GW nuclear by 2032, including 40 GW of Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) capacity and 7 GW of new Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) capacity, all fuelled by imported uranium.