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Sunil Khilnani

Professor Sunil Khilnani

  Sunil Khilnani

Avantha Professor and Director, King's India Institute


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Address: King's India Institute,                                                                                                King’s College London,                                                                                            Strand, London, WC2R 2LS


Sunil Khilnani is holder of the Avantha Chair and Director of the India Institute, which he established at King’s in 2011.

Born in New Delhi, he grew up in India, Africa, and Europe. He was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took a first in Social and Political Sciences, and at King’s College, Cambridge, where he gained his PhD in Social and Political Sciences.

Prior to becoming Director of the King’s India Institute he was, from 2001 to 2011, the Starr Foundation Professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., and Director of South Asia Studies at SAIS, a program that he established in 2002.

Sunil Khilnani was formerly Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has been a visiting professor of politics at Seikei University, Tokyo, and was elected a Research Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge. He has also held a Leverhulme Fellowship, and has been a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin.

His publications include: Arguing Revolution: The Intellectual Left in Postwar France (1993); The Idea of India (7th edn. 2016); with Sudipta Kaviraj, Civil Society: History and Possibilities (2000); with Nandan Nilekani, Pratap Mehta etc al., NonAlignment 2.0: a Foreign Policy for India in the 21st Century (2013); with Arun Thiruvengadam and Vikram Raghavan, Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia (2013);

His most recent book is Incarnations: India in 50 Lives (2016), which accompanies his 50-part podcast and radio series broadcast on BBC Radio4 in 2015-2016.

Sunil Khilnani’s research interests lie at the intersection of various fields: intellectual history and the study of political thought, the history of modern India, democratic theory in relation to its recent non-Western experiences, the politics of contemporary India, and strategic thought in the definition of India’s place in the world. His is regular contributor to the Indian and international media.

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