Archive for the ‘India’ Category

In Memoriam: Isher Ahluwalia, 1945-2020


October 28, 2020: Isher Ahluwalia came from a modest family of 11 siblings, discovered her remarkable academic talents in high school, and went on to start a brilliant career and a devoted marriage to Montek while they were living in Washington and Isher was finishing her PhD. She was, in short, intimidatingly smart, and gorgeous and gracious besides. But much more importantly, she was a brilliant economist, a woman of heart and dedication, with strong and very human priorities. These are the qualities to which her many friends were attached.

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In Memoriam: K. Shankar Bajpai

K. Shankar Bajpai (flickr)

In Memoriam – K. Shankar Bajpai


September 7, 2020: The passing of K. Shankar Bajpai fells one of the giants of Indian diplomacy, a man who distinguished himself heading diplomatic missions in arguably three of the four most important posts for India – Pakistan, China, and the United States.


My connection with Bajpai dates from 1976, when he arrived in Islamabad as India’s first Ambassador to Pakistan after the 1971 war. It was a difficult posting for him. Pakistan was still reeling from the loss of its Eastern wing (which had become Bangladesh); Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the Read more

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Siachen Back in the News – but Don’t Look for Peace Yet

From Kashmir Study Group, via Wikimedia Commons

February 17, 2016: A deadly avalanche that killed ten Indian soldiers earlier this month on the disputed 20,000 foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir received extensive coverage in the Indian and Pakistani media. The avalanche prompted some commentators in both countries to call for an early settlement of what seemed to them and to many others (including ourselves) a senseless dispute.

Their voices were largely drowned out in India by an outpouring of patriotic fervor that cast the dead soldiers as “Bravehearts” who had died for their country. The Indian Defense Minister publicly dismissed pleas that both sides pull back from the 47-mile long glacier where they have confronted one another since 1984. Possibilities for a settlement seem remote.

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Book Reviews – India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka


This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s  The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s reviews here.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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South Asia in US Strategic Context: India, Sri Lanka

Photo from flickr,

Read our take on U.S. strategic priorities in Asia, building a network of strong relationships around the region, prospects for India’s economic transformation, and the possibilities and challenges for the new government in Sri Lanka. See Mercy Kuo’s interview with Teresita Schaffer in The Diplomat.

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Book Reviews: Lashkar-e-Taiba; Indian Military History

Photo by Todd Huffman,

Two very different, but quite compelling, books on the military problems of the region: Stephen Tankel’s Storming the World Stage traces the history of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its complex relationship with the Pakistan army, concluding that this is unlikely to change; and Srinath Raghavan’s War and Peace in Modern India recounts in elegant detail the diplomatic and military history of the conflicts that peppered the first fifteen years of India’s independence.

Read both – but to get more of the flavor of them, read the review by Teresita Schaffer.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©. The International Institute for Strategic Studies; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy is available online at: .


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