South Asia

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Bordered by the Himalayas in the north and Afghanistan in the west, South Asia consists primarily of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. RAND research in the region is wide-ranging, focusing on security concerns and nuclear proliferation, economic development and labor market dynamics, child and family well-being, and health and education systems.

  • A cityscape of Shanghai

    Content

    The RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy

    Mar 14, 2018

    The RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy improves policy by providing decisionmakers and the public with rigorous, objective, cutting-edge research on critical policy challenges facing Asia and U.S.-Asia relations.

Explore South Asia

  • Laurel Miller, senior political scientist at RAND

    Commentary

    A Way Forward in Afghanistan: Q&A with Laurel Miller

    As the United States approaches its 17th year of military involvement in Afghanistan, Laurel Miller, a senior foreign policy expert at RAND, describes the current situation and hopes for the future.

    Jun 21, 2018

  • Lawmakers from India's main opposition Congress party and the Janata Dal (Secular) protest against India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader B.S. Yeddyurappa's swearing-in as Chief Minister of the southern state of Karnataka, in Bengaluru, India, May 17, 2018

    Commentary

    Politics in India—Not Business as Usual

    India's ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has suffered recent, self-inflicted electoral setbacks. But it is still the best-organized and richest political party in the country. Can opposing alliances defeat the BJP?

    Jun 19, 2018

  • Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, and Australia's Defence Minister Marisa Payne meet on the sidelines at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018

    Commentary

    The Quad: Second Verse, Same as the First?

    Members of “the Quad”—an informal collaborative arrangement among the United States, Japan, India, and Australia—have proven incapable of adopting either a shared understanding of or unified policies toward China.

    Jun 15, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Quantifying the Influence of Agricultural Fires in Northwest India on Urban Air Pollution in Delhi, India

    The modeling approach presented in this paper can be used to infer not just the co-variability of urban pollution and upwind fires, but also the percent contribution of smoke to the already intense urban surface particulate matter in Delhi.

    Apr 5, 2018

  • F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Pakistan Air Force fly to a joint exercise with the air forces of the United States and its allies, Nevada, July 21, 2010

    Report

    Prospects for U.S. and Pakistan Air Power Engagement

    As U.S. military action in Afghanistan stabilizes below its peak levels, the U.S.-Pakistan security relationship will enter a new phase. What is the nature of the relationship between the U.S. Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force, and how can it be strengthened?

    Mar 28, 2018

  • A Chinese Coast Guard ship (top) and a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, about 130 miles away from Vietnam, May 14, 2014

    Commentary

    Vietnam's Remarkable Month of Balancing Against China in the South China Sea

    Vietnam has engaged in a string of activities to strengthen deterrence against China in the South China Sea. But Hanoi's push to deepen external defense ties with states that can help its cause won't necessarily translate into greater risk-taking in the region.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • A man walks through a field amidst smog in New Delhi, India, February 7, 2018.

    Commentary

    Can Dirty-Air Discontent in New Delhi Push India Toward Greener Days?

    The downside to India's dramatic economic growth is New Delhi's off-the-charts air pollution. Public health officials have compared the harms of breathing in India's capital to smoking dozens of cigarettes a day. How bad must things become before Indians demand change and make it stick?

    Mar 22, 2018

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif (L) at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on September 8, 2017 in Beijing, China

    Commentary

    What Next for China-Pakistan Relations?

    The recent downgrade in U.S.-Pakistan relations will present both opportunities and challenges for China. Beijing can use the recent strain to promote a new model of international development, but must be wary of becoming the sole external power responsible for maintaining stability in the region.

    Feb 26, 2018

  • A U.S. Marine with a Marine special operations team assists with security during a construction project for an Afghan Local Police checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013

    Commentary

    In Afghanistan, A Protracted Stalemate

    The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for over 16 years, at a cost of over $1 trillion. But the Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since the U.S.-led invasion. This should give pause to observers who believe that the United States is, or will soon be, poised to turn the tide in Afghanistan.

    Feb 26, 2018

  • Chinese boats fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017

    Commentary

    The Potential of the Quadrilateral

    The countries of the Quadrilateral Security Framework are the region's four most capable maritime powers, and are naturally concerned with China's assault on international rules and norms. If ever put in place, the Quad could contribute to the maintenance of security and order in the Indo-Pacific maritime commons.

    Feb 22, 2018

  • Two boys stand near fuel trucks that were set ablaze in the Bolan district of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, December 12, 2011

    Commentary

    The United States and Pakistan: Best Frenemies Forever?

    A realistic approach to dealing with Pakistan does not mean selling out Afghanistan or taking a loss on the substantial U.S. investment in the region. Rather, it is necessary for giving Afghanistan a better shot at a more stable future than the current approach is likely to produce.

    Jan 16, 2018

  • A Rohingya refugee looks at the moon with a child in tow at Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh, December 3, 2017

    Commentary

    How the U.S. Can Help Resolve the Rohingya Crisis

    By accepting responsibility for reintegrating the Rohingya refugees, Myanmar has provided an opening to prevent an epic tragedy. Will the United States and the international community take advantage of it?

    Jan 5, 2018

  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand in the al-Khafsa area on the western bank of the Euphrates River, Syria, March 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Where Is Assad Getting His Fighters from?

    The Assad regime's defense against insurgents in Syria's ongoing civil war is being provided by forces imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Lebanon and Iraq. Most of these fighters are being trained and equipped by Iran. Could this network of foreign fighters help Iran establish a greater presence beyond the Middle East?

    Jan 4, 2018

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi before their meeting in New Delhi, India, October 25, 2017

    Commentary

    Despite Tillerson, U.S. Won't Abandon Pakistan for India

    There is no new U.S. policy towards Pakistan and there won't be one soon. As long as the U.S. has troops in neighboring Afghanistan, it will be reliant on Pakistan for logistical support, transit, and Islamabad's influence with both the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani Network.

    Oct 27, 2017

  • A container is loaded on to the first Chinese container ship to depart after the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan November 13, 2016

    Commentary

    China's Field of Dreams in Pakistan

    China is four years into joint planning and construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a vast economic development package. Beneath the surface, Beijing is testing a new “build it and they will come” model for delivering economic development and foreign aid.

    Oct 16, 2017

  • Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers deployed to Andersen Air Base, Guam, fly over the Republic of Korea Sept. 21, 2016

    Commentary

    The Rorschach Test of New Nuclear Powers: Analogies for North Korean Command and Control

    Is Pyongyang more like modern Islamabad or Soviet Moscow? The answer must draw on the expertise of scholars of civil-military relations as well as nuclear strategy. Even then analogy is only a starting point—North Korea may be more or less like previous cases, but will certainly be unique.

    Oct 6, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Mapping Vulnerability to Heat Waves in India

    Using district-level data on demographic, social, economic, health, and environmental factors, RAND researchers created the first-ever tool for measuring and mapping India's population's vulnerability to heat waves: the Heat Vulnerability Index.

    Sep 15, 2017

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto before the Emerging Market and Developing Countries meeting during the BRICS Summit, in Xiamen, China, September 5, 2017

    Commentary

    What Were China's Objectives in the Doklam Dispute?

    A recent military standoff on the Doklam Plateau was the most serious confrontation between China and India in a generation. It holds lessons for nations interested in Beijing's global strategic calculus.

    Sep 8, 2017

  • Landscape in Bhutan

    Commentary

    Countering Chinese Coercion: The Case of Doklam

    India and China have agreed to end a two-month border confrontation in the Doklam area claimed by both China and Bhutan. The immediate crisis seems to be over, but it offers insights into Chinese coercive strategies and how they may be thwarted.

    Aug 29, 2017