The South Asia Initiative
The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) and the Swedish Asian Studies Network (SASNET) at Lund University launched the South Asia Initiative in 2018. The collaboration is focused on India and South Asia and includes both research and analysis. It aims at building a strong research environment of international quality.
Asia is becoming an increasingly important economic and political arena in world affairs. Developments in the region have global consequences. South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) is home to about a fifth of the world’s population. India is estimated to become the world’s third largest economy within a couple of decades. The population of the region is young and looking for a change. The stability and prosperity of South Asia might, however, be challenged by a deepened rift between the nuclear powers India and Pakistan, by the crisis in Afghanistan and by emerging tensions between the major regional powers India and China.
Given this, there is a great need to raise awareness about South Asia and its place in the wider world. Therefore, UI and SASNET are now launching a long-term collaboration on research and analysis of South Asia.
“There is a shift occurring in the global system. Sweden and Europe need to become aware of how developments in India, South Asia, and Asia generally influence global processes,” says Henrik Chetan Aspengren, researcher at UI and in charge of the new South Asia initiative.
“South Asia has been standing in the shadow of China and East Asia in Sweden for some time, which is unfortunate. The development in India and South Asia is very important for Sweden and Europe. This collaboration will give us the opportunity to highlight this, both in the public discourse and to policymakers,” says Andreas Johansson, researcher at Lund University and director of SASNET.
The South Asia-focused collaboration between UI and SASNET is the first of its kind in Sweden. It will connect two advanced research environments with strong competencies in multiple research fields. Henrik Chetan Aspengren stresses that the collaboration will include both long-term research projects and continuous analysis of the political, social and economic development in the region.
“This environment will attract new researchers and collaborations, and create a flow of researchers between UI and SASNET,” adds Aspengren.
“Our ambition is to create a very competent and competitive research-environment with regard to South Asia,” says Andreas Johansson.
Björn Jerdén, head of UI’s Asia Programme, is excited by the project:
“UI has for some time been doing extensive research on East Asia. Now we get an opportunity to provide more comprehensive insights about developments in Asia as a whole, which is becoming the world’s economical and maybe even political center. The development of the relations between India, China and Japans is, for example, of central importance.”
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