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Our research impact

Most of our research is comparative – sub-national and cross-national – in nature. We explore and explain India’s substantial internal diversity, as well as compare India with other countries in South Asia and beyond the region. Here is a selection of research projects in the King's India Institute.

Reimagining India’s health system

Despite the heavy toll of COVID-19 and a history of under-investment in public health, Indian voters still don’t typically highlight health as a factor bearing on their voting decisions. Similarly, most politicians don’t foreground health in their electoral campaigns or priorities in office. Professor Louise Tillin and partners are investigating why exactly this is. The findings from their five-state survey will give a better indication as to whether there is latent public demand for greater government prioritisation of this sector. This British Academy grant is being delivered in partnership with Lokniti (Centre for Study of Developing Societies), the Lancet Citizen’s Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System and Royal Holloway, University of London.

Exploring the future of UK-India trade

Led by Dr Sunil Mitra Kumar and Dr Kamini Gupta (King’s Business School), this project studies the key enablers and obstacles of UK-India trade: first by building a macro-picture of trade between the two countries, particularly the ongoing negotiations towards a free trade agreement. Then by analysing the role of small, skill-intensive firms in India’s exports to the UK and the interlinked role of access to credit and social networks in supporting their growth. The three-year project is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and the Indian Council of Social Science Research. It is a collaboration with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Understanding India’s politics in its own terms

Terms of Western Political Theory distort and obscure our understanding of India’s politics. The logic of Indian citizens’ political choices, decisions and judgments does not lend itself readily to Euro-American analytical concepts: rights, identity, secularism and so on. ‘India’s Politics in its Vernaculars’ is a European Research Council-funded project led by Anastasia Piliavsky that seeks to understand India’s politics through Indian citizen’s own terms. Twenty-four scholars are working in seventeen Indian languages (including English and Hinglish) to describe key vernacular words and analyse key concepts across India’s political terrain. Together, we hope to prompt a shift away from exogenous, perpetually imperial theorising towards a truly Indian theory of India’s political life.

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Artefacts of Resistance

‘Artefacts of Resistance: creating archives of transnational protest movements’, by Dr Srilata Sircar and Manu Luksch from Somerset House Studios, is a digital media archive documenting contemporary protest movements that build on transnational solidarity networks. While building an accessible, dynamic portal for protestors, researchers, artists and students, the project’s innovative audio-visual performance demonstrates the project’s capacity to communicate, inspire and unite. It was funded by the King’s x Somerset House Studios research and development scheme.

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Populism in India and US foreign policy

Undertaking a comparative study on the role of populism in different contexts, this project examined how foreign policy and international relations can be used for populist mobilisation, and how populism impacts international order. Led by former-Institute member, Thorsten Wojczewski, it found that populism can shape the style of foreign policymaking and result in a personalisation, simplification and emotionalism – as attempts to appeal directly to people – but does not necessarily influence its content.

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