Milan Vaishnav

Director and Senior Fellow
South Asia Program
Vaishnav’s primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption and governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior.


PhD, Political Science, Columbia University
MA, MPhil, Political Science, Columbia University
BA, International Relations, University of Pennsylvania 





  • October 30, 2017 Washington, DC
    India’s Post-Demonetization Policy Agenda

    On November 8, 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shocked the nation—and the world—by announcing his decision to “demonetize” 86 percent of India’s cash in circulation in an effort to address the scourge of black money in the country.

  • October 25, 2017 Washington, DC
    The Impact of Affirmative Action in India

    For seventy years, India’s democracy has relied on ethnic quotas to redress historical disadvantages faced by marginalized communities.

  • September 28, 2017 Virtual
    Online Event: How the BJP Wins

    Three years into the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be going from strength to strength.

  • June 2, 2017 Washington, DC 中文
    India’s Search for Prosperity

    India’s economic resurgence has been the subject of many extravagant predictions and hopes. The road India takes will matter not only for the lives of its billion-plus people but also for the course of global economics and politics.

  • Book Launch: Rethinking Public Institutions in India
    May 10, 2017 Washington, DC 中文
    Book Launch: Rethinking Public Institutions in India

    While a growing private sector and a vibrant civil society can help compensate for the shortcomings of India’s public sector, the state is—and will remain—indispensable in delivering basic governance.

  • Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation: The Relentless Invention of Modern India
    May 3, 2017 Washington, DC 中文
    Superfast Primetime Ultimate Nation: The Relentless Invention of Modern India

    For countless years, India has been touted as a country with enormous potential. But its ability to realize this promise faces innumerable hurdles.

  • February 8, 2017 New Delhi
    Book Launch: When Crime Pays

    In democracies stretching from Brazil to Nigeria, criminals routinely thrive at the ballot box. In India, the world’s largest democracy, as many as a third of elected politicians are under criminal indictment.

  • February 2, 2017 Washington, DC 中文
    Book Launch: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics

    In democracies stretching from Brazil to Nigeria, criminals routinely thrive at the ballot box. In India, the world’s largest democracy, as many as a third of elected politicians are under criminal indictment.

  • January 12, 2017 Washington, DC
    Has Pakistan’s Democracy Turned a Corner?

    Pakistan’s 2013 general election marked the country’s first civilian transfer of power following the completion of an elected government’s full term. However, questions linger over the country’s democratic durability as next year’s election will occur against a challenging backdrop.

  • Half-Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India
    December 19, 2016 Washington, Dc 中文
    Half-Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India

    With exclusive access to Rao’s never-before-seen personal papers, Vinay Sitapati’s definitive biography provides new revelations on the Indian economy, nuclear program, foreign policy, and domestic politics.

  • December 1, 2016 Washington, DC
    The Other One Percent: Indians in America

    Authors Devesh Kapur and Sanjoy Chakravorty will present their findings on Indian-Americans’ rapid rise, the social and economic challenges particular to immigrants of Indian heritage, and the group’s influence on the trajectories of both nations.

  • The View From New Delhi: A Conversation With Indian MPs
    September 13, 2016 Washington, DC 中文
    The View From New Delhi: A Conversation With Indian MPs

    In early August, both houses of India’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that will bring India closer to a common market than ever before.

  • Online Q&A on India-U.S. Relations
    May 31, 2016 Virtual
    Online Q&A on U.S.-India Relations

    Scholars from Carnegie India and Carnegie’s South Asia Program participated in an online Q&A to discuss U.S.-India relations.

  • May 4, 2016 Washington, DC
    A New Normal in Indian Politics?

    A quarter century ago, Indian National Congress dominance in New Delhi began to give way to two distinct political forces—the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and a wide-ranging collection of regional political parties.

  • April 11, 2016 Washington, DC
    Can India Ever Become a Great Power?

    While India’s rise is undeniable, its trajectory within the global order remains unclear. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for India to become a leading power represents a change in how the country’s top political leadership conceives of its role in international politics

  • April 7, 2016 Washington, DC
    A Vision for the U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership

    In advance of the sixth annual U.S.-India Economic and Financial Partnership dialogue, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets discussed the importance of the United States’ economic partnership with India.

  • April 4, 2016 Washington, DC
    The Roots of the Sri Lankan War

    For over a quarter century, Sri Lanka endured a harrowing civil war pitting government forces against the insurgent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. How did the Sri Lankan civil war begin and what are its lasting impacts?

  • December 9, 2015 Virtual
    Assessing the Progress and Promise of Economic Reform in India

    To discuss the Indian government’s economic progress to date and its vision for the future, join us for a special Google Hangout featuring Jayant Sinha, India’s union minister of state for finance and Lok Sabha member of Parliament.

  • November 18, 2015 Washington, DC
    India’s Maritime Diplomacy

    As India expands its maritime capabilities, new questions have arisen as to whether it has a coherent maritime strategy or the institutional foundations necessary to secure India’s equities, particularly in an increasingly contested Indian Ocean region.

  • November 5, 2015 Washington, DC
    Creating a New Medina: The Quest for Pakistan

    Contrary to the received wisdom, Pakistan was not simply a vague idea that serendipitously emerged as a nation-state, but was broadly conceived as a sovereign Islamic state—a new Medina.

  • October 21, 2015 Washington, DC
    Does India’s Congress Party Have a Future?

    In the 2014 general election, the Indian National Congress party suffered its worst electoral defeat on record. This decline has raised questions about whether India’s “grand old party” can recapture its past glories.

  • October 8, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Pakistan Paradox: Who Rules the Country Today?

    Nearly seven decades after the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan faces a daunting series of existential challenges ranging from ethnic strife to Islamism and terrorism.

  • Q&A on Indian Politics
    July 1, 2015
    Q&A on Indian Politics

    Milan Vaishnav participated in an online Q&A to discuss Indian politics in depth.

  • June 23, 2015 Washington, DC
    Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition

    At their formation in 1947, India and Pakistan had more in common with each other, and shared more economic and cultural links than any other two nations on earth. Partition created not just a physical boundary, but also a psychological border between these two states.

  • April 29, 2015 Washington, DC
    Urbanization in India: Challenges and Opportunities for Growth

    Urban areas are integral to India’s growth and development, accounting for well over half of the country’s GDP and representing an ever-growing percentage of its population.

  • April 28, 2015 Washington, DC
    Indian Economy: Reforms and Growth Prospects

    The liberalizing Indian economic reforms of the 1990s and early 2000s led to a significant shift in the growth rate and poverty reduction in India. But India has paid a heavy price for abandoning that path in 2004.

  • February 24, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence

    Unlike in neighboring Pakistan, India’s army has not intervened in politics and the country has successfully preserved its democracy.

  • October 22, 2014 Washington, DC
    Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism

    The entangled threat of crime, corruption, and terrorism remain important security challenges in the twenty-first century.

  • October 17, 2014 Washington, DC
    Modi’s Transformative Moment?

    The first 100 days of a new government can be tumultuous as power shifts hands and leaders make dramatic decisions. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thus far proceeded in a more nuanced fashion, making an assessment of his first four months in office more complicated.

  • June 25, 2014 Washington, DC
    Book Launch of Getting India Back on Track: An Action Agenda for Reform

    India has fallen far and fast from the runaway growth rates it enjoyed in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The recent election results have demonstrated a nationwide desire to reverse this trend.

  • June 16, 2014 Washington, DC
    Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation

    In managing violent rebellions, democracies must often choose between coercion and accommodation. As the world’s largest democracy, India is no stranger to this trade-off: it has struggled over the past several decades to address several domestic insurgencies.

  • April 14, 2014 Washington, DC
    A Complicated Arrangement: India and the United States Since 1947

    Over the last two decades, the U.S.-India relationship has evolved from one of mutual suspicion to one of strategic partnership. Yet the relationship between the two great democracies is still a work in progress.

  • March 25, 2014 Washington, DC
    Introduction and Presentation of Survey Results

    A unique recent survey of voter attitudes in India reveal some interesting trends that could have a significant impact on upcoming elections.

  • March 25, 2014 Washington, DC
    India Decides 2014: Assessing the Elections and Beyond

    The forthcoming Indian general election, scheduled to begin in mid-April, will be arguably the country’s most critical vote since 1977.

  • March 4, 2014 Washington, D.C.
    India’s Post-Election Economic Outlook

    In April, Indians will head to the polls to elect their next government. The incoming government will assume office saddled with thorny economic issues that range from large deficits and high inflation to sputtering economic growth.

  • October 11, 2013 Washington, DC
    Narendra Modi’s Experiment With the Middle Class in Gujarat

    Earlier this month, India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced that Narendra Modi would be its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 national elections.

  • September 25, 2013 Washington, D.C.
    Media Call: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s White House Visit

    Ashley Tellis and Milan Vaishnav discussed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the White House.

  • May 23, 2013 Washington, DC
    Accidental India: How the Shadow of Crisis Has Shaped a Nation

    In just six decades, India has gone from geopolitical backwater to emerging global power.

  • March 18, 2013 Washington, DC
    Employing India’s Rural Poor

    India enacted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005 to implement an ambitious, demand-driven employment-creation program through projects that improve agricultural productivity and alleviate land degradation.

  • January 31, 2013 Washington, DC
    India and the Balance of Power in Asia

    As India’s capabilities evolve, so, too, do its old rivalries and strategic interests abroad.

  • January 31, 2013 Washington, DC
    Will India Ever Be the “Locomotive of History” in South Asia?

    Over the past two decades, India has enjoyed unprecedented economic growth fueled by major domestic reforms. But corruption, limited resources, and fierce Chinese competition all threaten to cut short India’s boom.

  • January 17, 2013 Washington, D.C.
    Child Malnutrition in India: Myth and Reality

    Despite high levels of growth and economic reforms, domestic observers as well as international organizations such as the World Health Organization have criticized India’s high rates of child malnutrition.

  • November 14, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    The Naxalite Insurgency in India

    The Naxalite insurgency has continued to defy the state for longer than any other uprising in post-independence India.

  • March 7, 2012 Washington, D.C.
    The Economic Outlook for Pakistan

    Pakistan’s economy remains highly vulnerable to several aspects of the country’s current reality: continued security issues, political uncertainty, and two recent and severe floods.


Areas of Expertise

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