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South Asia Studies

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South Asia Studies
1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Suite 724
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 663-5837


Explore the economic, political, and security trends across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the wider Indian Ocean region that have positioned South Asia as a region of growing economic and strategic importance. Explore US policies pertaining to security and political engagement in the region, and deepening ties with countries such as China and Japan.

Become an Expert

Gain hands-on experience in this region representing a laboratory for those interested in economic and political development. Understand the history that shaped South Asia, with special focus on the role of colonialism and the effects of partition. With financial support from the program, undertake a summer internship in a South Asian country.


Featured Courses

Gain insight into the central dilemmas of modern politics, economic development and social change present in the South Asia region.


Economic Development and Policy in India

This course will familiarize students with India’s economy.

Principal themes discussed during the course include India’s economic development, its integration in the world economy, the political economy of reforms and growth, as well as India’s institutional development. By the end of the course, students should be able think critically about Indian economic developments and related policy issues.


Security Challenges & Military Modernization in South Asia

South Asia is home to two of the world’s largest militaries, the world’s leading arms importer, several major ethnic, religious, and nationalist insurgencies, an array of sophisticated terrorist groups, and two nuclear-armed powers that engage in frequent border skirmishes.

This course takes a systematic and in-depth look at how states manage security challenges in this complex region. Topics include analysis of foreign policy decision-making processes and civil-military dynamics; the rise (and export) of Islamic extremism; comparative perspectives on counterinsurgency campaigns undertaken by India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; India’s efforts at military modernization and preparations for China-related contingencies; and the ways in which evolving strategic capabilities and doctrines might affect the risk of nuclear escalation.


The Pakistan Conundrum: Crisis and Connectivity

This course takes a multifaceted look at one of the world’s most populous states and its evolving economic and strategic relationships with great powers, the Middle East, and the wider Asia-Pacific.

The first major theme of the course is the way in which Pakistan has been shaped by — and, at times, has induced — crises throughout its history. From its wars with India, to its turbulent relationship with the United States, to its own internal uprisings, Pakistan has rarely been at peace with itself or its neighbors. The second theme of the course explores Pakistan’s role as a fulcrum between the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific, with particular emphasis on its relationship with China and the multi-billion dollar energy, infrastructure, and connectivity investments being planned under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; Pakistan’s complex ties to the Gulf states; and its evolving relationships with Russia and Iran.


India's Challenges and the Future of a Sixth of Humanity

Since its independence, India has been the world’s largest democracy and second largest country, but an extremely poor country as well.

However, in a few years India will emerge as the world’s largest country with a sixth of the world’s population and in a decade it is poised to emerge as the third largest economy riding on the back of nearly four decades of strong economic growth. The seminar will examine the principal challenges facing India: political and institutional; economic growth; poverty and inequality; demographic; urbanization; natural resources and climate change; and geopolitical.

Learn From the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Devesh Kapur

Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies, Director of Asia Programs

Pavithra Suryanarayan

Assistant Professor of International Political Economy

Pravin Krishna

Chung Ju Yung Distinguished Professor of International Economics and Business

Joshua White

Associate Professor of the Practice of South Asia Studies, Fellow, Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies

In the News

The Indian prime minister and Trump addressed a Houston rally. Who was signaling what?

Devesh Kapur wrote in The Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, 9/29

India should take advantage of the U.S.-China trade war.

Pravin Krishna wrote in Livemint, 9/20

Saudi Arabia, Japan, and the world beyond oil.

Kent E. Calder wrote in in Kyodo News, 9/17

Addressing India’s growth slowdown.

Pravin Krishna hosted Transforming India podcast, 9/17

Reforming Indian agriculture.

Devesh Kapur wrote for Center for the Advanced Study of India, 8/28

Advance Your Career

Gain the intellectual framework and analytic skills necessary to enter a variety of roles across the public, private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Recent Internships

  • Institute for Inclusive Security
  • Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy
  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  • United Nations
  • US Department of State
  • US Embassy, Colombo
  • US India Business Council
  • World Resources Institute

Recent Employers

  • Bower Group Asia
  • Control Risks
  • Ernst & Young
  • International Rescue Committee
  • McLarty Associates
  • United Nations
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of Energy
  • US House of Representatives
  • World Bank Group

Build Your Network

Join a diverse, accomplished, influential community of scholars, practitioners, alumni, and students working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Students toured cultural landmarks and met with government officials, policy analysts and business leaders during a South Asia Studies-sponsored study trip to India.

South Asia studies students joined a roundtable discussion on policy issues across the Asia region with Congressman Joaquin Castro.

Students build camaraderie through regional clubs and social events like the annual student-run International Dinner in Washington DC.

Students traveled to Nepal for a study trip, where they conducted research on migrant labor and the role of remittances.

Gaining Insights and Expertise from Two Global Institutions

"I admired the pioneering work in the study of Indian domestic politics by Professor Walter Andersen, Director of the South Asia Studies program."

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A Fulbright Scholar with a Focus on Global Development in Sri Lanka

"Johns Hopkins SAIS was the only Washington, DC school and one of the few in the country to offer Hindi/Urdu as a language option."

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Oct 29 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm Room 812, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Under The Gun: Explaining Party Violence in Karachi, Pakistan

Political parties are an integral component of democratic systems. Yet, parties frequently engage in violent behavior. They employ violence directly or outsource violent tasks to urban gangs and ethnic militias,...

Beyond the Classroom

Explore South Asian international affairs up close through study treks, internships, and exciting research opportunities

South Asia Students Association

Bringing together classmates school-wide interested in South Asia, this extracurricular club offers networking opportunities with alumni and professionals active in South Asian markets, culture, and policy.

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World-Class Events

Hear groundbreaking research from leading scholars and practitioners at our policy seminars and panel discussions. Recent sessions have explored topics including the Indian economy under Prime Minister Modi, the rise of Hindu nationalism, and Pakistan's military elite.

Networking Events

Network with alumni and professionals and organize student-led events exploring South Asia's challenges and opportunities outside the classroom.

Student Government Association

Serve as the liaison between the student body and administration, offering ideas for programming at the school and selecting guest speakers for the faculty research seminar series.