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.

  • A woman holding a baby looks out of a window from a shanty in Dharavi, Mumbai, India, October 15, 2009, photo by Arko Datta/Reuters

    Commentary

    Economic Development: A Recipe for Social Cohesion in India

    Mar 16, 2020

    Given the staggering economic challenges that need attention, how might India refocus its attention away from sectarian divides to economic development? While there is no easy answer, focusing on inclusive growth and development might offer one potential route.

Explore South Asia

  • 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

  • Journal Article

    Effects of Mothers' Deaths on Children's Schooling in Matlab Subdistrict, Bangladesh

    After controlling for selected socioeconomic variables, the completed levels of schooling of children whose mothers had died is appreciably lower compared to children whose mothers survived.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Journal Article

    In with the Big, Out with the Small: Removing Small-Scale Reservations in India

    Our analysis suggests that the removal of small-scale reservations increased overall employment by encouraging the growth of younger, larger establishments—those that are most likely to pay higher wages, create more investment, be more productive, and generate growth in employment.

    Aug 8, 2017

  • Report

    Implications of the Security Cooperation Office Transition in Afghanistan for Special Operations Forces: An Abbreviated Report of the Study's Primary Findings

    Presents findings from six historical case studies in which the mission of special operations forces in each of the six countries transitioned over time to include some level of inclusion in the U.S. embassy's Security Cooperation Office.

    Aug 1, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend a meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, June 9, 2017

    Commentary

    China Will Regret India's Entry Into the SCO

    Russia first proposed India as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization likely in part to complement bilateral economic and security engagement, but mainly to constrain China's growing influence in the organization.

    Jul 24, 2017

  • A mother and her child walk along the Ganges river during a dust storm on a hot summer day in Allahabad, India, June 9, 2015

    Commentary

    Where Are India's Heat Hotspots?

    Poverty, poor sanitation, a precarious water and electricity supply, and limited access to health care make India vulnerable to heat waves. Rural and urban districts could improve their preparedness by developing and targeting local adaptation strategies.

    May 17, 2017

  • Afghan Special Forces prepare for battle with the Taliban on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, October 10, 2016

    Testimony

    U.S. Policy Toward Afghanistan and the Region

    Afghanistan remains a key frontline state in the struggle against terrorist groups. With that in mind, the United States should make Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan an enduring part of its counterterrorism efforts.

    Apr 27, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Domestic Factors Could Accelerate the Evolution of China's Nuclear Posture

    This brief discusses how domestic factors could influence China's evolving nuclear deterrent.

    Apr 20, 2017

  • Journal Article

    Heat Wave Vulnerability Mapping for India

    Indexing relative variation in heat-related vulnerability across all of India can help planners, policy makers, and disaster mitigation experts target climate adaptation efforts.

    Apr 4, 2017