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South Asia Centre

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South Asia Centre
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 5330

Email southasiacentre@lse.ac.uk


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Established in 2015, the South Asia Centre marks a step-change in LSE’s engagement with South Asia. LSE has more than 70 subject experts whose teaching and research interests concern South Asia; the Centre harnesses this world class inter- and multi-disciplinary expertise to underwrite the School’s fundamental mission of impacting public awareness through informed knowledge. All activities of the Centre focus on public engagement and impact, capacity and skills development, and the creation of a global platform to engage with South Asia – whose particularities constantly challenge conventional social science thinking about the region. 

The mission of the South Asia Centre is to work with individuals, organisations, think tanks, the media, governments and parastatal institutions to debate South Asia amidst its constituent countries and with the world at large through multi-faceted dialogue and debate, and position it as a dynamic global region influencing wider challenges and powers. The Centre’s activities at once capture and animate the multiple alternative and varied global frames of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and their role in the making of the Asian century.

The South Asia Centre is part of the Institute of Global Affairs, alongside several other region-focused Centres at LSE.


Farewell reception for Deputy High Commisioner of India to the UK Dr Virander Paul

The South Asia Centre, in partnership with the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK, hosted a farewell reception for Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK Dr Virander Paul. 

Dr Paul has been a strong advocate for the South Asia Centre supporting joint enterprises between the Indian Government and the South Asia Centre. This has included developing a Practioner in Residence Scheme, and a residential programme delivered at the LSE focusing on social inequality, injustice and empowerment affecting contemporary Britain. 50 research scholars and 8 government officers from across India took part in the programme, which was part of the 125th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Dr B R Ambedkar.

To see more photos from the event click here

The event was supported by Rami Ranger CBE.

DLewis Dhaka

SAC Visit to Bangladesh

Dr Nilanjan Sarkar, Deputy Director of the South Asia Centre, visited Bangladesh from 18-21 June 2016, to meet prominent business leaders and alumni. He led an LSE delegation which included Professor David Lewis (Head of the Department of Social Policy & Member of the SAC Faculty Advisory Group), and prominent alumni Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury (Vice President, BRAC and member of the SAC Advisory Board) and Professor Imran Rahman (Vice Chancellor, University of the Liberal Arts Bangladesh). The meetings had the twin purpose of raising funds for the Centre, and to organise the first ever LSE Bangladesh Summit in Dhaka in 2017.

During the visit, Professor Lewis gave a public lecture, organised by ULAB, on "The Decline of Radical Development NGOs in Bangladesh".

Read more about his lecture in the news coverage here and here.

SAC logo black

South Asia Centre completes first year

Yesterday the LSE South Asia Centre (SAC) celebrated its first anniversary. It has been a busy year: the SAC has hosted more than fifteen events and supported LSESU societies to run their own talks and conferences. South Asia @ LSE, the Centre blog, has expanded its remit considerably and produces regular academic analysis of topical debates.

The SAC also hosted the first LSE India Summit in Goa, and in February Professor Craig Calhoun became the first LSE Director to visit Pakistan as he participated in an official SAC visit. They also organised a range of events to mark the 125th birth anniversary of leading social reformer and jurist Dr BR Ambedkar, an LSE alumnus.

The team are looking forward to expanding engagement across LSE and South Asia over the coming year, with special events planned to mark 70 years of independence.

Click here to for more info about SAC's first year.

Gagan Sood

Dr Gagan Sood  (Assistan Professor in the Department of International History) has authored the following book, which has just been published by Cambridge University Press. 

India and the Islamic Heartlands: An Eighteenth-Century World of Circulation and Exchange

Based on the chance survival of a remarkable cache of documents, India and the Islamic Heartlands recaptures a vanished and forgotten world from the eighteenth century spanning much of today's Middle East and South Asia. Gagan Sood focuses on ordinary people - traders, pilgrims, bankers, clerics, brokers, scribes, among others - who were engaged in activities marked by large distances and long silences. By elucidating their everyday lives in a range of settings, from the family household to the polity at large, Sood pieces together the connective tissue of a world that lay beyond the sovereign purview. Recapturing this obscured and neglected world helps us better understand the region during a pivotal moment in its history, and offers new answers to old questions concerning early modern Eurasia and its transition to colonialism.

HCI Welcome by SAC and Professor Craig Calhoun

India's new High Commissioner to the UK H.E. Mr Navtej Sarna welcomed at the LSE

High Commissioner H.E. Mr. Navtej Sarna visited the LSE on March 9. He was hosted by the Director and President, Prof. Craig Calhoun who shared with him the vision and plans of the newly formed South Asia Centre; he also interacted with academics associated with the Centre working on issues of importance to India.

At the High Commissioner's suggestion, it was agreed that given the close proximity of the LSE and the HCI, as the two institutions are literally across the road, they will strengthen their ties through a new '100 Foot Journey Club' (#100FJC) that will host regular events and discussions on topical issues and research about India.

Prof Craig Calhoun with PM Nawaz Sharif 23 Feb 2016

Professor Craig Calhoun has become the first LSE Director to visit Pakistan.

This was at the beginning of a week long trip around the country, including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, where Professor Calhoun, along with Dr Mukulika Banerjee and Dr Nilanjan Sarkar, Director and Deputy Director of the LSE South Asia Centre respectively, met with Government ministers, students, alumni, and gave presentations at Universities in each city. 

Read about his meeting with PM Nawaz Sharif here

You can see more highlights from the visit on our faceboook and twitter accounts.

S Ibnes Abbas addressing alumni with Craig Calhoun and Mukulika Banerjee

Reception for LSE Alumni from Pakistan in the UK

On Tuesday 16th February 2016, the South Asia Centre held a reception for LSE Alumni from Pakistan in the UK where they met the LSE President & Director, Professor Craig Calhoun, and His Excellency Mr. S. Ibne Abbas, High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK. 

Dr Mukulika Banerjee also spoke about the South Asia Centre and its imminent trip to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

Thanks to all alumni who came, and for the support given by members of the LSE SU Pakistan Society and LSE SU Pakistan Development Society. It was great to meet you and hope to see you at South Asia Centre events in the near future

Photos of the event are on our Facebook page here

Sam Pritoda

LSE India Summit 2016

‘We live in a world where UBER, the largest taxi company, does not own taxis; Airbnb, the largest accommodation company, does not own rooms; Alibaba, the biggest retailer in the world, does not have a shop. In this world, the language of GDP, balance sheets, per capita income no longer make sense. We need a total redesign of how we look at global finance.’

     ~ Sam Pitroda, pioneer of India’s IT revolution, speaking at             the LSE India Summit in Goa  

The South Asia Centre hosted the first ever ‘LSE India Summit 2016’ at the Cidade de Goa on 28-30 January 2016.

Sponsored in full by Difficult Dialogues LLP, the Summit was immensely successful, with more than 300 people attended it over 3 days. 

Read more about the Summit here.

Details on panels and speakers here.

Twitter Hashtag used for this event: #LSEIndia2016 

Group photo of Ambedkar students

The second delegation of Ambedkar Research Students had a successful visit, finishing with a reception hosted by the South Asia Centre on Friday 27th November. 

Whilst here, two of the students were interviewed by Rozelle Laha, from the Hindustan Times, which features in an article published in the Delhi edition on Wednesday 2nd December. 

The article is featured on page 19 of the Delhi edition. Click here  to view.

South Asia Centre leaf

About the South Asia Centre logo

Sacred Fig (ficus religiosa), Pipal, Bodhi - this symbolises at once social, cultural, religious and ecological benevolence, representing a shared cultural geography and noetic economy. Find out more about the symbol and why it has been adopted as the LSE South Asia Centre logo here.


India's Democracy: Electoral Vibrancy, Liberal Deficits

This is a South Asia Centre roundtable discussion. 

Friday 4th November 2016 


Venue: tbc

Speakers: Prof. Ashutosh Varshney, Ashis Ray

The speakers will explore India’s democratic and electoral record, provide an analysis of state elections in India since 2014 and assess the BJP national government’s record half way into their  term.

Ashutosh Varshney is Professor of Political Science and Director of South Asia Centre Brown University, and author of Battles Half Won: India's Improbable Democracy (2013). His book Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India (2002) won the Gregory Luebbert Prize of the American Political Science Association.

Ashis Ray  was CNN's founding South Asia bureau chief in Delhi, and is the longest serving Indian foreign correspondent. Based in London he has worked in this capacity since 1977 for the BBC, CNN, the Ananda Bazar Group and The Times of India.

This event is free and open to all.

Please email if you have any queries.

Book cover

Martin Wollacott in conversation with Salil Tripathi

This is a South Asia Centre book discussion.

Monday 7th November 2016


Venue: tbc

Martin Woollacott  will be in conversation with Salil Tripathi on his latest book The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and Its Unquiet Legacy  (2014). Martin is a journalist who has written extensively for The Guardian and was in Dhaka during the liberation war of 1971; Salil is a journalist, commentator and writer.   

This event is free and open to all.

Please email if you have any queries.

Tristram hunt

Cities of the Empire

This is a South Asia Centre public lecture.

Wednesday 23rd November 2016


Venue: tbc

Speaker: Tristram Hunt

Tristram Hunt will speak on the cities of Calcutta, Bombay and New Delhi, and their role in making the Empire over a century, drawing direct and close links between the colonial cities and their relationship with cities like Liverpool on the one hand, and Britain as a whole on the other. 

Tristram Hunt is an intellectual and cultural historian specialising in urban pasts. He is Senior Lecturer in modern British history at Queen Mary University of London, and Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central. He is the author of Ten Cities that made an Empire  (2014).

This event is free and open to all. It is part of the Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall series. 

Please email if you have any queries.

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Forgotten Soldiers of the Raj

This is a South Asia Centre public lecture.

Wednesday 8th February 2016


Venue: tbc 

Speaker: Shrabani Basu

Shrabani Basu will speak about the nearly one and a half million soldiers from the Indian subcontinent who fought in the British army in the First World War. Travelling from remote villages in India to the harsh trenches of Flanders and France for a war that was not of their making, they fought with unquestioning valour and loyalty, winning some of the highest bravery awards.  Despite being the largest colonial military contingent, their contribution to Britain’s military engagement is almost completely forgotten.

Shrabani Basu is a journalist and writer. Her latest book For King and Another Country: Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-1918  (2015) tells, for the first time, the stories of Indian soldiers who went to the Western Front: from a Maharaja who fought for Empire to the Pathan who won the first Victoria Cross; from cooks and sweepers who accompanied the troops to the young pilots who brought down German planes; from the Indian Muslim soldiers who prayed to Mecca in the fields of France to the bonds that were forged in the mud and blood of the battlefields.  

This event is free and open to all. This event is free and open to all. It is part of the Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall series. 

Please email if you have any queries.

jahnavi phalkey

Flights of Empire: Allies, Aeronautics, and Adversary in World War II Bangalore

This is a South Asia Centre public lecture.

Wednesday 8th March 2016


Venue: tbc

Speaker: Jahnavi Phalkey

Jahnavi Phalkey will tell the untold story of how Bangalore was used as an aeronautical base by the British and allied armies to plan military action in Southeast Asia during World War II. Being able to use India as a base gave the British military a strategic advantage for action in the entire region beginning from Burma to Japan.

Jahnavi Phalkey is Senior Lecturer in the History of Science and Technology at King’s College London. She is the author of Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth Century India (2013).

This event is free and open to all.This event is free and open to all. It is part of the Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall series. 

Please email if you have any queries.    


Latest posts

India posts 

Bangladesh posts 

  • Social attitudes that view female child marriage as a means of protecting respectability need to change
    Drawing on their extensive research of female child marriage in Bangladesh, M Niaz Asadullah and Zaki Wahhaj discuss the limitations of current deliberations over the minimum age of marriage law. They write that improving the agency of adolescent girls to make their own life choices should help reduce the incidence the child marriage more effectively than what can be achieved […]
  • The nexus of local and international extremist networks in Bangladesh
    The Dhaka attack is the biggest act of terrorism Bangladesh has seen in recent times, but it was not an isolated incident. Sajjan Gohel discusses the wider context of extremism and writes that Bangladesh is in the grips of a battle between the JMB and ABT, affiliated with ISIS and Al-Queda respectively. The 1-2 July, 2016, terrorist siege at the […]

Pakistan posts 

Nepal posts

  • Looking beyond Maternal Mortality Rates in maternal health interventions: Lessons from Nepal
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  • Bodies that (don’t) matter: Private security guards in conflict zones
    South Asian nationals are frequently recruited by private companies to work as security staff in conflict zones. Following the deaths of multiple Nepalese citizens in a recent Taliban attack in Kabul, Sangita Thebe Limbu reflects on the mismatch in value attached to the lives of migrants from less economically developed countries in contrast to the staff from Western countries. In […]
  • Improving the detection of corruption incidents in NGOs: Four lessons learned from South Asia
    NGOs routinely face difficulties relating to fraud and corruption, particularly when working in fragile states or disaster situations. Oliver May writes that detection in particular is key to developing strategies to minimise these risks, and draws on a range of South Asian examples to highlight how efforts to identify corruption can be improved. Fraud and corruption are key risks for […]
  • Democracy without elections: 15 years of local democratic deficit in Nepal
    It has been 14 years since local elections have been held in Nepal, and as a result democratisation at local level has stalled despite periodic national elections. Thanesh Bhusal explores why elections at local level have been suspended for so long, the impact this has had on citizen participation and the prospects for the revival of local elections in the […]
  • Community participation should be at the heart of Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction
    Little progress has been made in reconstruction efforts following the twin earthquakes in Nepal last year. Bishal Chalise writes that a key problem has been the exclusion of the affected communities from the reconstruction process, and argues that giving these groups a voice would help to ensure a more tailored, effective and accountable process. This article forms part of our Nepal […]
  • Book Review: Handbook of Disaster Policies and Institutions: Improving Emergency Management and Climate Change Adaptation
    This book encourages the reader to think thoroughly about the dichotomy of “policy-as-usual” vs. “emergencies-as-exceptions”, and how is it possible to plan and prepare for ‘unexpected’ natural disasters, writes Sarah Lester. However, although the book will be useful to policymakers to think critically about preparing long-term disaster response strategies, it does not provide enough of a ‘handbook’ for practicing emergency managers or humanitarian responders […]
  • The 2015 earthquakes highlight that Nepal is not a passive recipient of aid, nor should it be treated as such
    Case studies like Nepal offer the opportunity to reassess how individuals and communities affected by natural disasters can be better served by humanitarian efforts, writes Jeevan R Sharma. He argues the future of international assistance lies in developing constructive relationships with the state and effective partnerships with the local organisations who often end up leading the relief effort on the ground. […]
  • Women in disaster: Gendered vulnerabilities and intersecting identities in the wake of the Nepali earthquakes
    One year on from the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, Sangita Thebe Limbu discusses how the disaster has disproportionately affected women. She highlights how gendered vulnerability is further complicated by other factors such as age, caste and marital status, underlining how pre-existing discriminatory practices and inequalities are being exacerbated and even reinforced in the reconstruction process. This article forms part of our […]
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    Despite improvements to energy supply over the years, many Indian states still face frequent power shortages. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have large reserves of untapped hydropower with the potential to meet unserved demand for energy in major load centres. Investing in interconnections could also contribute to significant reductions in carbon emissions. In this post, Deb Chattopadhyay, P.N. Fernando and […]
  • Nepal after the Constitution: An expert discussion
    On 11 February the LSESU Nepalese Society hosted an expert panel to discuss Nepal’s long-awaited new Constitution, and to explore where the Himalayan nation is likely to go from here. Sangita Thebe Limbu, who chaired the event, offers an overview of the insights provided by Professor Michael Hutt, Dr Mara Malagodi, Dr Punam Yadav and Dr Chandra Laksamba. In April […]

Sri Lanka posts

  • DSC Prize Shortlisting: Reflections on South Asian literature
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  • “Workers in the textiles industry are portrayed by the media as victims. I wanted to challenge that narrative” – Sanchita Saxena
    On 27 November Dr Sanchita Saxena will speak at LSE about her book Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garment and Textiles Industries. Ahead of her visit she spoke to Sonali Campion about how her findings challenged the media portrayal the garment industry in Asia and highlighted the strength of the female-led labour movement […]
Dadabhai Naoroji

Black Chronicles - Photographic Portraits 1862-1948

18th May - 11th December 2016

National Portrait Gallery, St Martins Lane, WC2H 0HE

The National Portrait Gallery in partnership with Autograph ABP presents a unique ‘snapshot’ of black lives and experiences in Britain.

This important display of photographs reveal some of the stories of Black and Asian lives in Britain from the 1860s through to the 1940s.

Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948 brings together some of the earliest photographs of Black and Asian sitters in the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection.

These are exhibited alongside recently discovered images from the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images. The display of over 40 photographs highlight an important and complex black presence in Britain before 1948, a watershed moment when the Empire Windrush brought the first group of Caribbean migrants to Great Britain.

In addition, Black Chronicles: Photographic Portraits 1862-1948 highlights new acquisitions including a series of portraits by Angus McBean, of Les Ballets Nègres, Britain’s first all-black ballet company and a selection of photographs of the pioneer of classical Indian dance in Britain, Pandit Ram Gopal, by George Hurrell.

This exhibition is free. 

For more info click here.


Stitching the Square - an Exhibition of Banjara embroidery from India

25th May to 30th July2016

10 am - 6 pm Monday - Saturday

Joss Graham, 10 Eccleston Street, London, SW1W 9LT 

'Banjara embroideries, like the Banjara themselves, are almost instantly identifiable. The fortitude of the patterns and the wealth of stitches is unmatched by any other culture'. Charllotte Kwon and Tim McLauchlin 'Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe' 2016

Click here for more info. 

Bhupen Khakhar2

Exhibtition: Bhupen Khakhar - You Can't please all

1 June – 6 November 2016

Monday - Sunday


Tate Moderm, Bankside, SE1 9TG

Renowned for his unique figurative style and incisive observations of class and sexuality, Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) played a central role in modern Indian art and was a key international figure in 20th century painting. This landmark exhibition showcases vivid works on canvas, luminous watercolour paintings and experimental ceramics. 

An accountant-turned-artist, Bhupen Khakhar demonstrated a commitment to representing his world with unflinching honesty. High and low merged in narrative paintings with influences ranging from devotional aesthetics and street culture to European painting and pop art. He confronted provocative themes, particularly his homosexuality, with rare sensitivity and wit. Haunting portraits of ordinary men and last works describing his struggle with cancer express a rare humanity.  

Bringing together Khakhar’s work from across five decades and collections around the world for the first time since his death, this is a unique opportunity to discover his extraordinary work and inspirational story.

Tickets from £9.50.

Click here for more info.

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