Milan Vaishnav

South Asia Program
Vaishnav’s primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption, ethnic politics, governance and state capacity, election finance, and distributive politics.


PhD, Political Science, Columbia University
MA, MPhil, Political Science, Columbia University
BA, International Relations, University of Pennsylvania 




Milan Vaishnav is an associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption and governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior. 

One of his ongoing major projects examines the causes and consequences of political corruption in India with an emphasis on representation and quality of political leadership, connections between the state and private capital, and the management and exploitation of natural resources. He also works on development policy as well as issues of governance in developing countries and their relation to democratic accountability.

He is the co-editor of the book Short of the Goal: U.S. Policy and Poorly Performing States (Center for Global Development, 2006). His work has also been published in the Latin American Research Review

Previously, he worked at the Center for Global Development, where he served as a postdoctoral research fellow, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has taught at Columbia, Georgetown, and George Washington Universities.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle February 28, 2015
    India Budget ‘a Step in the Right Direction,’ but ‘No Quantum Leap’

    The new budget is clearly pro-growth in its orientation and is a marked improvement from the government’s first provisional budget issued last July.

  • Indian Marketplace
    Op-Ed Hindu February 27, 2015
    Unsafe After Sunset

    Perceptions of public safety in India are not driven by urbanisation per se; rather, these are likely driven by the infrastructure and amenities associated with the largest cities in India.

  • Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs February 11, 2015
    A Rumble in Delhi

    The AAP’s victory in the Delhi elections over the BJP and Congress is nothing short of a stunning reversal of fortune—the impact of which will be felt far beyond the narrow confines of the Indian capital.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express February 4, 2015
    The Resilience of Briefcase Politics

    Unless a farsighted Central government can champion campaign finance reforms, the after-effects of the ill-fated 1969 ban on company donations are likely to be felt long after its 45th anniversary.

  • Indian Parliament
    Op-Ed Live Mint January 26, 2015
    How Representative Are India's MPs?

    Indian legislators have very little in common with the average citizen.

  • Op-Ed Live Mint January 23, 2015
    No Big Ideas in India-U.S. Relations—and That’s OK

    U.S.-India relations have not meandered because of a lack of ideas; they’ve ebbed and flowed thanks to over-hyped pledges followed by half-baked implementation.

  • Indian Market
    Op-Ed Hindu December 9, 2014
    Being Middle Class in India

    Are differences within India’s middle class, in income, education, and cultural and social capital, so wide as to render moot any ideological or behavioral coherence to this group?

  • Indian Bricklayers
    Op-Ed Live Mint October 13, 2014
    Pro-Business or Pro-Consumer?

    Modi has repeatedly stated that government should not be in the business of business, but when policy issues demand difficult trade-offs, will the Indian government side with business or consumers?

  • Indian Marketplace
    Op-Ed Georgetown Journal of International Affairs October 9, 2014
    Modi in the USA

    The prime minister’s primary objective in the United States was to make the pitch that India is once again a hospitable environment for investment.

  • Op-Ed Economic Times September 27, 2014
    For the Two Nations, Biggest Potential is in Defense

    Washington is in a mood to strike up new deals with India and is eager to seize the window of opportunity with a new government.

  • Narendra Modi
    Diplomat January 30, 2015
    What You Need to Know About Obama's Trip to India

    President Barack Obama’s historic trip to India to serve as chief guest in the Republic Day parade has the potential to be a major turning point in India-U.S. relations.

  • Bloomberg TV India January 27, 2015
    U.S. Sees India as a Strategic Partner in APAC Region

    After a power packed long weekend for both President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, what does each country take back from this visit?

  • Indian Naval Vessel
    CNBC September 30, 2014
    India-U.S. Can Work Towards Improving Defense Tech

    Despite the hype, the Modi-Obama meet may not show results in the short term. There may be an opportunity for the two countries to cooperate on defense technology, though.

  • New Hampshire Public Radio June 2, 2014
    All Eyes On India, And Its New Prime Minister

    India is going to need to create a lot of jobs, and create a lot of economic growth, to satisfy its domestic needs.

  • Bloomberg TV May 19, 2014
    Modi’s Strategy For India’s Economy

    While Modi has a lot of good instincts when it comes to the economy, India is in a dire economic situation and Modi faces a difficult task.

  • Diplomat April 16, 2014
    India’s 2014 General Election: A Primer

    Economic growth, jobs and development, and inflation and corruption are three of the key issues concerning Indian voters as they go to the polls to vote in the general election.

  • Monocle’s Foreign Desk April 5, 2014
    The Foreign Desk: India’s Elections

    What matters to India’s 800 million voters and how will these desires manifest in the 2014 parliamentary elections?

  • Charlie Rose March 25, 2014
    Elections in India

    An inability to act on necessary reforms, coupled with massive malfeasance in government, has the potential to invigorate the Indian opposition going into the elections.

  • Bloomberg TV’s Political Capital March 14, 2014
    Myth That India’s Muslims Vote Differently

    Results from pre-election survey on the priorities of Indian voters debunk common myths about trends in Indian elections.

  • February 24, 2015 Washington, DC
    The Military and Indian Democracy Since Independence

    Unlike in neighboring Pakistan, India’s army has not intervened in politics and the country has successfully preserved its democracy.

  • October 22, 2014 Washington, DC
    Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism

    The entangled threat of crime, corruption, and terrorism remain important security challenges in the twenty-first century.

  • October 17, 2014 Washington, DC
    Modi’s Transformative Moment?

    The first 100 days of a new government can be tumultuous as power shifts hands and leaders make dramatic decisions. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thus far proceeded in a more nuanced fashion, making an assessment of his first four months in office more complicated.

  • June 25, 2014 Washington, DC
    Book Launch of Getting India Back on Track: An Action Agenda for Reform

    India has fallen far and fast from the runaway growth rates it enjoyed in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The recent election results have demonstrated a nationwide desire to reverse this trend.

  • June 16, 2014 Washington, DC
    Managing Conflicts in India: Policies of Coercion and Accommodation

    In managing violent rebellions, democracies must often choose between coercion and accommodation. As the world’s largest democracy, India is no stranger to this trade-off: it has struggled over the past several decades to address several domestic insurgencies.

  • April 14, 2014 Washington, DC
    A Complicated Arrangement: India and the United States Since 1947

    Over the last two decades, the U.S.-India relationship has evolved from one of mutual suspicion to one of strategic partnership. Yet the relationship between the two great democracies is still a work in progress.

  • March 25, 2014
    Introduction and Presentation of Survey Results

    A unique recent survey of voter attitudes in India reveal some interesting trends that could have a significant impact on upcoming elections.

  • March 25, 2014 Washington, DC
    India Decides 2014: Assessing the Elections and Beyond

    The forthcoming Indian general election, scheduled to begin in mid-April, will be arguably the country’s most critical vote since 1977.

  • March 4, 2014 Washington, D.C.
    India’s Post-Election Economic Outlook

    In April, Indians will head to the polls to elect their next government. The incoming government will assume office saddled with thorny economic issues that range from large deficits and high inflation to sputtering economic growth.

  • October 11, 2013 Washington, DC
    Narendra Modi’s Experiment With the Middle Class in Gujarat

    Earlier this month, India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced that Narendra Modi would be its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 national elections.


India Decides 2014

Areas of Expertise

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