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

    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.

    Mar 14, 2018

  • U.S. President Joe Biden holds a virtual meeting with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss Russia's war with Ukraine from the White House in Washington D.C., April 11, 2022, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    Modi's Multipolar Moment Has Arrived

    Russia's war in Ukraine has benefited India as great powers are competing more vigorously for New Delhi's affection, particularly the United States and China. India has also prevented its Russia policy from spoiling partnerships with key European and Indo-Pacific partners. These trends, if sustained, will contribute to India's rise to great-power status and in turn, shift the global system toward even greater multipolarity.

    Jun 6, 2022

Explore South Asia

  • Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an explosion in front of Dayah hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 25, 2017

    Commentary

    U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy Must Be About More Than ISIS

    ISIS is a worthy candidate for eradication, but failing to also target its franchises, al-Qaida splinters, and other non-aligned groups in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia could allow other threats to metastasize.

    Feb 9, 2017

  • Afghan National Army soldiers inspect passengers at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, June 29, 2015, after Islamic State fighters had seized territory from rival Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan for the first time

    Commentary

    The Islamic State-Taliban Rivalry in Afghanistan

    The weakening of the Islamic State is a positive step. But Taliban successes against the group have strengthened the Taliban's power, bolstered its reputation, and complicated U.S. and Afghan government efforts to wind down the Afghan war.

    Nov 28, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (right) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington, September 25, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Actions Are Causing U.S. 'Militarization' of the Pacific

    Beijing's aggression in the Asia-Pacific is threatening key U.S. allies, causing America to respond. Any change in U.S. policy must be based on changes in Chinese behavior.

    Nov 3, 2016

  • An Indian army soldier keeps guard from a bunker near the border with Pakistan in Abdullian, southwest of Jammu, September 30, 2016

    Commentary

    Could the Kashmir Standoff Trigger Nuclear War?

    Militants trained in Pakistan have been raiding the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for over a quarter of a century, but the recent attack was the deadliest in years. A short-term return to peace remains uncertain and the longer term is even harder to predict.

    Oct 10, 2016

  • Students hold a placard and candles during a vigil after a terror attack on Dhaka, Bangladesh, in Agartala, India, July 3, 2016

    Commentary

    Is the Surge in Terrorist Attacks Coincidence or Coordinated Campaign?

    Whatever the investigations of recent terrorist attacks reveal, the facts may be portrayed (or ignored) to fit narratives written even before the blood has dried.

    Jul 11, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    China Ponders Post-2014 Afghanistan: Neither "All In" nor Bystander

    Since 2001, China has warily watched the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and associated footprint in Central Asia.

    Jun 28, 2016

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Deception in Covert Nuclear Weapons Development: A Framework to Identify, Analyze, and Mitigate Future Long-Term Deception Efforts

    Develops a framework to categorize observable signatures, formulate a judgement on whether long-term deception is taking place, and propose additional areas of collection that may yield evidence of in research and development.

    May 18, 2016

  • Afghan security forces keep watch after a suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 19, 2016

    Commentary

    The Taliban's Persistent Threat

    The United States and its NATO allies have been scaling back their military commitment in Afghanistan. The Taliban, in response, have been scaling up their operations, inflicting unprecedented heavy casualties on Afghan government forces and gaining increased control over much of the countryside.

    Apr 21, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Health of Aging Populations in China and India

    Our data compare health status, risk factors, and chronic diseases among people age forty-five and older in China and India.

    Feb 4, 2016

  • A laborer lifts a basket of crushed bricks at a construction site in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 22, 2014

    Commentary

    What to Do About Informal Employment in Developing Countries

    The staying power of informal employment in developing countries is a concern, because informal employees (e.g., day laborers) tend to receive lower wages, fewer benefits, and fewer legal protections. How can policymakers improve conditions for informal workers?

    Jan 22, 2016

  • Pakistani Taliban fighters, who were arrested by Afghan border police, stand during a presentation of seized weapons and equipment in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 5, 2016

    Commentary

    Pakistan Holds the Key to Peace in Afghanistan

    Sustained and intensified U.S. pressure on Pakistan offers the only viable path to advancing the Afghan reconciliation process in a way that does not turn Afghanistan into a launching pad for terrorism and extremism.

    Jan 11, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Education, Gender, and State-Level Disparities in the Health of Older Indians: Evidence from Biomarker Data

    Using new biomarker data from the 2010 pilot round of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI), we investigate education, gender, and state-level disparities in health.

    Dec 2, 2015

  • News Release

    News Release

    India's Interest in Southeast Asia Will Have a Significant Impact on U.S. Strategic Planning

    India's core goals for Southeast Asia are in basic harmony with those of the United States. Domestic concerns will likely prevent Prime Minister Modi from implementing his “Act East” policy as rapidly as some might wish, so America should demonstrate strategic patience and willingness to cultivate a long-term relationship with India.

    Oct 22, 2015

  • Indian security personnel on the Brahmaputra River in Guwahati, India, August 6, 2014

    Report

    India's Interest in Southeast Asia Will Have a Significant Impact on U.S. Strategic Planning

    India's core goals for Southeast Asia are in basic harmony with those of the United States. Domestic concerns will likely prevent Prime Minister Modi from implementing his “Act East” policy as rapidly as some might wish, so America should demonstrate strategic patience and willingness to cultivate a long-term relationship with India.

    Oct 22, 2015

  • Laborers carry bricks at a brick factory on the outskirts of Agartala, India, January 7, 2015

    Commentary

    Attacking Poverty Through Employability Interventions

    The UN's goal to end poverty is a worthy undertaking but less clear to policymakers is what the most efficient options are to reduce poverty through employment or training. An analysis of efforts in South Asia finds that investments in interventions that combine business training with financing could yield positive results.

    Oct 16, 2015

  • Staff raise Pakistan's flag in front of the Great Hall of the People ahead of a welcome ceremony for Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Beijing, July 5, 2013

    Commentary

    Pakistan and China's Almost Alliance

    Policymakers in the United States and throughout Asia should take note of why the Sino-Pakistani relationship has endured for so long, what each partner gets from the other, and what inherent limitations prevent the union from developing into a true alliance.

    Oct 16, 2015

  • NATO soldiers near a damaged NATO military vehicle at the site of a suicide car bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 11, 2015

    Commentary

    More Boots Isn't Enough to Save Afghanistan

    Until there is a viable political strategy for Afghanistan, any modicum of U.S. troops is, at best, playing not to lose. Doing better than that will require promoting three dimensions of political change in Afghanistan and between Kabul and Islamabad.

    Oct 16, 2015

  • Two Indian men working in a textile shop

    Report

    Taking Stock of Employment Interventions in South Asia

    While the number has declined over recent decades, estimates of global poverty remain high. Employment is crucial to lift people out of poverty. A review of the most prominent employment interventions in South Asia could provide guidance for future efforts to increase employment.

    Oct 14, 2015

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Automobility in Brazil, Russia, India, and China: Quo Vadis?

    Toward which levels of automobility are the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) headed?

    Oct 5, 2015

  • Afghan officials in Pakistan August 13, 2015 discussing reviving suspended peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, days after Taliban attacks killed dozens of people in Kabul

    Commentary

    Afghanistan, Choose Your Enemies Wisely

    The Taliban's new leadership may be the last decent opportunity for a political solution to the conflict. Without a solution, the Islamic State could make Afghanistan the next Iraq or Syria.

    Aug 24, 2015