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Sunil Khilnani

Professor Sunil Khilnani

  Sunil Khilnani

Professor Sunil Khilnani

Avantha Professor and Director, King's India Institute


Office: India Institute, Room K0.39, King's Building, Strand Campus 

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 2002 to 2011, the Starr Foundation Professor at the John 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.

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 D.C., a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. During 2017-18 he will was a visiting professor at Princeton University.

His publications include:  Arguing Revolution: The Intellectual Left in Postwar France (1993); The Idea of India (20th anniversary edn. 2017); with Sudipta Kaviraj, Civil Society: History and Possibilities (2000); with Nandan Nilekani, Pratap Mehta et. 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: A History of India in 50 Lives (2016), which accompanies his 50-part podcast and radio series broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service in 2015-2016, and available on iTunes.

Professor Khilnani received the BIG Indian Award 2017 (Arts & Culture) for his outstanding commitment to building UK-India relations.

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, and strategic thought in the definition of India’s place in the world. He is a regular contributor to the Indian and international media.

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