Vikram Nehru

Senior Associate
Asia Program
Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian Studies
Nehru is a senior associate in the Carnegie Asia Program. An expert on development economics, growth, poverty reduction, debt sustainability, governance, and the performance and prospects of East Asia, his research focuses on the economic, political, and strategic issues confronting Asia, particularly Southeast Asia.


MA, MPhil, Oxford University


Vikram Nehru is a senior associate in the Asia Program and Bakrie Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. An expert on development economics, growth, poverty reduction, debt sustainability, governance, and the performance and prospects of East Asia, his research focuses on the economic, political, and strategic issues confronting Asia, particularly Southeast Asia.

From 1981 to 2011, Nehru served in the World Bank, including in a number of senior management positions. Most recently, he was chief economist and director for poverty reduction, economic management, and private and financial sector development for East Asia and the Pacific. In this capacity, he advised the governments of developing countries in East Asia and the Pacific on economic and governance issues, including macroeconomic management, public sector and public financial management, financial and private sector development, and poverty reduction.

Previously, he directed the World Bank’s Economic Policy and Debt Department, where he was responsible for managing global programs for debt relief and for developing new tools and techniques for growth analytics, fiscal-policy analysis, subnational and regional development, and small-states development. In addition, he chaired the bank’s Economic Policy Sector Board, which provided strategic leadership for all of its country and macroeconomists.

In leading the World Bank’s Debt Department, Nehru managed the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, Debt Sustainability Framework, Debt Reduction Facility, Debt Management Facility, Debt Management Performance Assessment Program, and Medium Term Debt Strategies for Developing Countries.

His portfolio at the World Bank also included serving as lead economist on Indonesia and China as well as senior economist for Ghana. Prior to joining the World Bank, he held an administrative position with the government of India.

Nehru has written numerous journal articles and contributed to several books. His papers include: “East Asia and the Pacific Confronts the ‘New Normal’”; “The Concept of Odious Debt: Some Considerations”; “When is External Debt Sustainable?”; “Indonesia in Crisis”; and “China 2020: Development Challenges in the New Century.”

  • Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review September 10, 2015
    Myanmar: Mechanics of the Elections

    Previous elections in Myanmar have drawn criticism, but the military-dominated Union Election Commission appears to be trying to ensure the upcoming elections are more transparent and better run.

  • July 8, 2015
    Myanmar’s Elusive Peace

    Understanding Myanmar’s attempts to forge a nationwide ceasefire after sixty years of civil war.

  • Article June 2, 2015 中文
    Myanmar’s Military Keeps Firm Grip on Democratic Transition

    Myanmar’s military may have stepped back from direct control of key institutions, but it is poised to reestablish its authority whenever that becomes necessary.

  • April 30, 2015
    Introducing Myanmar Votes 2015

    Myanmar’s 2015 general election will be a key milestone for the country. Yet, with three transitions under way, Myanmar’s task is enormous and the path littered with pitfalls.

  • April 30, 2015
    Myanmar’s 2015 Election: The Basics

    A guide to some of the basic information surrounding Myanmar’s upcoming elections and why they matter.

  • Malaysia Beset with Challenges as it Takes ASEAN H
    Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review March 13, 2015
    Malaysia Beset with Challenges as it Takes ASEAN Helm

    Malaysia's governance fabric is threatened with centralization of power, growing corruption, and divisive economic policies.

  • Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review February 5, 2015
    Two Challenges That Could Test President Widodo’s Mettle

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo faces two huge challenges. The first is political and has mesmerized the country for the last fortnight. The second is economic, less well known and less urgent, but will also test his leadership mettle.

  • Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review January 8, 2015
    Malaysia’s Big Chance to Help Shape ASEAN’s New Era

    As the 2015 ASEAN chair, Malaysia should demonstrate genuine and forward-looking regional leadership on the ASEAN Economic Community.

  • Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review November 26, 2014
    The Ascent of Indonesia’s Presidency

    In coming years, Indonesia is likely to witness a gradual ascent in the powers and effectiveness of the Indonesian president relative to that of the legislature.

  • Op-Ed Nikkei Asian Review October 16, 2014 中文
    Democratic Despair Masks Hope in Southeast Asia

    Recent setbacks to democracy in Southeast Asia are matters for concern, but not causes for despair.

  • Diplomat September 25, 2015
    ASEAN’s Economic Future

    Southeast Asia is on the verge of establishing the ASEAN Economic Community, but will it be a game-changer for the region?

  • VOA Global March 2, 2015
    Malaysia-China Relations Since MH370

    The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has not had a long-lasting impact on Malaysia-China relations.

  • NPR’s Here & Now November 14, 2014
    President Obama Says Myanmar’s Political Reform ‘Still Incomplete’

    While the easy reforms in Myanmar have been implemented, institutional reforms are necessary going forward.

  • Diplomat June 2, 2014
    Understanding Thailand’s Coup

    Thailand’s coup is rooted in the clash between the rising voice of the rural poor and the established power of the Bangkok elite. The resolution of this clash will determine the character of Thai democracy.

  • Myanmar military
    September 22, 2015 Washington, DC
    Myanmar’s Military and the 2015 Elections

    Campaigning has begun for Myanmar’s first general election since the end of direct military rule. But recent events underscore the influential role of the military in the run-up to the election and raise questions about civil-military relations in the country’s transition to democracy.

  • September 11, 2015 Washington, DC
    Myanmar in Transition: A Conversation with Daniel Russel

    Fresh from a trip to Yangon and Naypyidaw, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia and the Pacific will give an update on policy toward Myanmar as the country gears up for historic elections. Carnegie’s Vikram Nehru will moderate.

  • Rohingya protest
    July 22, 2015 Washington, DC 中文
    Myanmar’s Ethnic, Communal, and Human Rights Challenges and the 2015 Elections

    Myanmar’s upcoming 2015 elections will be an important milestone in the country’s struggle to define itself as it goes through profound economic and political change. Yet its transition to democracy is challenged by deep internal ethnic and communal fault lines and a legacy of human rights abuses.

  • June 3, 2015 Washington, DC 中文
    Why Myanmar’s Elections Matter

    Myanmar’s general elections, scheduled for early November this year, could mark a watershed in the country’s transition from military dictatorship to parliamentary democracy.

  • May 12, 2015 Washington, DC 中文
    China Faces the Kiss of Debt

    Confronted by the 2008 global financial crisis, China unleashed an unprecedented economic stimulus package that included rapid growth in credit to enterprises and local governments. In other countries, large increases in debt have usually been followed by sharp growth slowdowns, and many ended in crisis.

  • May 1, 2015 Washington, DC 中文
    Myanmar Votes 2015: A Conversation With Thura Shwe Mann

    Myanmar voters will go to the polls this fall in what could be the most important elections in the country’s history.

  • March 26, 2015 Washington, DC
    Indonesia: There’s a New Sheriff in Town

    President Joko Widodo’s first four months in office have been anything but uneventful. He has had to confront a series of political challenges from the opposition coalition, the police, his own party, and even his mentor, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.

  • January 20, 2015 Washington, DC
    Supporting Myanmar’s Economic Development

    The economic and social development challenges facing Myanmar are enormous and require sustained support from its international development partners.

  • December 17, 2014 Beijing 中文
    Investment and Economic Development in Southeast Asia

    By proposing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and pledging support for development in Southeast Asia, China will feature heavily in the region’s ongoing growth.

  • November 19, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Democracy Is More Difficult Than Physics

    Emerging democracies are periodically vulnerable to legitimacy crises by the expansion of popular participation.


Areas of Expertise

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