South Asia and LSE

The LSE South Asia Centre embodies the long shared history between LSE and South Asia.

LSE’s history with the Indian subcontinent starts with the School’s founding. A gift by the Indian industrialist Sir Ratan Tata in 1912 made the development of applied social studies possible, and led to the establishment of the Department of Social Science at the School, which initiated research into the causes of poverty. Ralf Dahrendorf, former director of the LSE, referred to the association between pre-1947 India and LSE as a 'story of soul mates'.

The best fruits of this long association with South Asia has been visible over the last century in the generations of fine minds arriving at LSE for higher studies, several of whom became presidents, prime ministers, chief justices, parliamentarians, business leaders, diplomats, thinkers, activists, barristers, academics and Nobel laureates in their countries. They include President K R Narayanan (India) who studied with Sir Harold Laski; Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (Nepal); diplomats Krishna Menon (India), Munir Butt and Maleeha Lodhi (Pakistan), and A F M Abul Fateh (Bangladesh); Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan (Pakistan); leaders Tyronne Fernando (Sri Lanka) and Abdul Qayyum Khan (Pakistan); Justices Mustafa Kamal (Bangladesh) and Dorab Patel (Pakistan); economists I. G. Patel (ex-Director of LSE, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India), A. S. Jayawardene (former Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka), Syed Ali Raza (former President of the National Bank of Pakistan); former National Assembly member Shireen Mazari (Pakistan); and trade unionist and women’s activist Vivienne Goonewardena (Sri Lanka), to name but a few. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, author of the Constitution of independent India, completed his PhD at LSE in the early 1920s, and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen taught at LSE before moving to the US.

Students from India and Pakistan jointly comprise one of the largest international contingents on LSE campus each year, bringing South Asia to LSE in their own unique ways, organising and participating in a variety of events focussing on the region on campus. And LSE continues to welcome students from other countries in the region — Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. They study alongside several international students and researchers who are equally interested in the complex realities of South Asia. 

Since its establishment in 2015, the LSE South Asia Centre has harnessed the expertise of more than 70 academic staff and research scholars focussing on South Asia through its events, Working Papers, research resources, Visiting Fellowships, and in-country activities, amongst much else. The Centre is now the leading hub for South Asia in the United Kingdom, and complements the activities of the International Growth Centre, and the newly established India Programme.