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.

  • 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.

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Deutsche Welle September 26, 2014
    Modi Seeking to Revive US Investment in India

    Indian Premier Narendra Modi has embarked on a five-day visit to the United States aimed at improving ties and showing an American audience that India is once again “open for business.”

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Live Mint September 22, 2014
    What Kind of Reformer Will Narendra Modi Be?

    The Modi government must consider pivotal reforms, rather than luxuriate in the current economic recovery.

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Deutsche Welle September 2, 2014
    Modi’s Need to Move ‘Beyond Piecemeal Initiatives’

    While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has improved the quality of governance in his first hundred days in office, he has yet to pursue major economic policy reforms.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle July 28, 2014
    Kerry Seeking To ‘Reset U.S. Relationship With India’

    The primary purpose of Kerry’s trip to India is symbolic, but that does not make it unimportant. The Obama administration is looking to reset its relationship with India as a whole as well as with Modi the individual.

  • Op-Ed Live Mint July 28, 2014
    The Politics and Plumbing of Reforms

    Reform initiatives that were pursued by previous Indian governments often failed due to inadequate attention to state capacity. This government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to translate ideas into institutional change.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle July 10, 2014
    Modi’s ‘Pro-Growth’ Budget ‘Lacking on Key Issues’

    There is no doubt that the Modi government’s first budget is pro-growth in its orientation, but it still lacks a detailed blueprint for economic renewal.

  • Op-Ed Business Standard June 14, 2014
    It’s Too Soon To Proclaim Death Of Coalition Politics

    Although the 2014 election repudiated many of the tenets of the post-1989 system, it is too soon to proclaim the death of coalition politics.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • September 25, 2013 Washington, D.C.
    Media Call: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s White House Visit

    Ashley Tellis and Milan Vaishnav discussed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the White House.

  • May 23, 2013 Washington, DC
    Accidental India: How the Shadow of Crisis Has Shaped a Nation

    In just six decades, India has gone from geopolitical backwater to emerging global power.

  • March 18, 2013 Washington, DC
    Employing India’s Rural Poor

    India enacted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005 to implement an ambitious, demand-driven employment-creation program through projects that improve agricultural productivity and alleviate land degradation.


India Decides 2014

Areas of Expertise

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