The SARCist

The SARCist is an initiative of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India. It is funded by The Asia Foundation.

Recent international interest in South Asia regional cooperation has borne witness to a number of research, advocacy and track two initiatives being undertaken by a large number of organizations in the SAARC region. The broader objectives and goals of these initiatives are to facilitate the progress of regional cooperation in South Asia, particularly to promote intra-regional trade.

In response to this renewed interest in the development of South Asia as a regional economic entity; The SARCist is an initiative towards building a virtual knowledge platform for purposes of policy advocacy on issues of regional cooperation with particular emphasis on trade and investment flows. South Asia has a rich heritage of internationally renowned Think Tanks working on various policy issues pertaining to regional cooperation. The SARCist endeavours to bring together the excellent work being done by many of these think tanks in South Asia as well as think tanks outside South Asia which are working on South Asian cooperation. It also intends to bring together lesser known, yet immensely strategic institutions in border states working on cross-border trade issues.

The SARCist helps to create a virtual space which acts as a one-stop-shop for all policy reports, data analysis, news and events, and other knowledge products developed by the various think tanks in the region. The SARCist endeavours to take it a step further and provide a space for experts and young scholars to debate and discuss key issues of relevance on trade and investment in South Asia. This will in turn help to generate new knowledgeproducts and promote greater regional cooperation among South Asian countries.

Click here to download The SARCist Concept Note

The Team

Dr. Rajiv Kumar

A renowned economist and the author of several books, Dr. Kumar is Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, in New Delhi. He was formerly Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Previously, he was Director & Chief Executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), one of India’s leading independent economic policy think tanks. He is a member of the International Advisory Council of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Centre (KAPSARC). Dr. Kumar was a member of the National Security Advisory Board for 2006-2008 and is a non- executive Director on the Central Board of the State Bank of India since August 2012. He has a D.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University and a Ph.D from Lucknow University. He is a leading columnist in leading business dailies and his views on matters relating to the economy are widely sought.

Sabah Ishtiaq

is Research Assistant for the for the ‘India and her Neighbours Project’ funded by the World Bank. She holds an M.Phil. degree in International Organization from Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She has done her Masters in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Bachelors in Political Science (Hons.) from Maitreyi College, Delhi University. Her research interests include International Organizations, International Relations, International Regional Organizations, Regionalism, South Asian Regional Politics.


is currently an M.Phil. student of Political Science at JNU. She has completed Her M.A. in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, and a B.A.(Honours) in Political Science from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Pournamy is interning with Diya under the Southasia programme. Previously Pournamy has interned with UN Women South Asia Office and worked with the Women’s Economic Empowerment Team. She has pursued her interests in political issues by participating and winning debates at the college level.

Preety Bhogal

Preety Bhogal is a Research Assistant for 'India and her Neighbors' project funded by the World Bank. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from Amity University and her Bachelors Degree from Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University. She has worked as a Market Research Associate with Ken Research and has interned with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI). Her research interests include International Trade, Macroeconomics and Econometrics.

Pranika Khurana

Is a Human Resources and Administration professional. She is Personal Secretary to Dr Rajiv Kumar and provides coordination support to the South Asia team at CPR. She holds an MBA in Human Resources and Marketing from IMT, Ghaziabad. Prior to joining CPR, Pranika has worked with number of private organizations in the capacity of human resources, public relations and sales.

Advisory Board

Prof. Mustafizur Rahman

An economist by training Professor Rahman is currently the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Prior to CPD, he was professor at the University of Dhaka for twenty-five years. Dr Rahman has been a Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow at the Oxford University, UK and a Senior Fulbright Fellow at the Yale University, USA. His recent research works are related to Bangladesh’s macroeconomic performance, trade policy and external sector performance, WTO negotiations and interests of the LDCs, regional cooperation and economic integration in South Asia. Dr Rahman has published widely in professional journals and has authored several books and monographs. He has worked with various international organisations and has served as member of various national bodies set up by the Government of Bangladesh.

Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Considered India’s leading opinion maker, Pratap Bhanu Mehta is the President of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India. He was previously Visiting Professor of Government at Harvard University; Associate Professor of Government and of Social Studies at Harvard. He was also Visiting Professor at NYU Law School and University of Pennsylvania Law School. His areas of research include political theory, society and politics in India, governance, political economy and international affairs. Mehta has a B.A. First Class in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University; and a PhD in Politics from Princeton University. He is the recipient of several awards for distinguished contributions in social sciences and political science including the inaugural AmartyaSen award 2012 for contributions in Political Science.

Kanak Mani Dixit

Kanak Mani Dixit is a journalist and civil rights activist based in Kathmandu, and editor of the Himal Southasian regional review magazine. He holds degrees in Law (Delhi University), International Relations and Journalism (Columbia University). Through the pages of Himal Southasian, Dixit has been engaged in the quest to define the Southasian space and identity. Beyond English- and Nepali-language journalism, he is involved in the areas of documentary festivals, spinal injury care, archiving, human rights, public transport and architectural preservation. Dixit is translator of BP Koirala's Atmabrittanta and is a writer of stories for children. Having contributed to several Southasian anthologies, he is also author of the political commentary, Dekheko Muluk ('The Country I See') and Peace Politics of Nepal.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri

Currently the Executive Director, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan Dr. Suleri earned his Ph.D. in Food Security from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, United Kingdom. Prior to joining SDPI he served as Head of Programs, OXFAM GB Pakistan. His research interests include Food Insecurity, Regional Trade, Globalization and Rural Livelihoods,Regional Integration, Institutional Reforms, Non-traditional security issues, and Energy Governance. He is serving as Member of the Advisory Committee of the National Planning Commission since October 2013. He is also member of the National Advisory Committee jointly formed by Government of Pakistan and the USIAD for Pakistan Strategic Support Programme. He served as Member of Board of Management of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), and Chaired Board Audit and Finance Committee from 2010-2012. He is also serving on Board of Studies of various universities and co-supervises Ph.D. and M.Sc. students under NCCR program.

Dr. Saman Kelegama

Currently the Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS); Dr Kelegama is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka and was the President of the Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA) during 1999-2003. Dr Kelegama has published extensively on Sri Lankan and regional economic issues in both local and international journals.He is the co-editor of the South Asia Economic Journal (Sage Publications) and serves as a referee for a number of international journals.He serves and had served in a number of government and private sector Boards as an independent member. He was a member of the Presidential Taxation Commission of Sri Lanka. He received his Doctorate (D.Phil.) and M.Sc in Economics from University of Oxford, U.K.

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