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Modern Indian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


The Modern Indian Studies Initiative was established to bring together a wide range of research initiatives focused on present-day India, while providing students and the Carolina community the opportunity to develop a broader, deeper understanding of contemporary India. UNC has faculty and graduate students from a wide range of disciplines working on projects in and about India with partners at universities, non-profits, companies and government entities.

Our goal is to offer programming, events, courses, and resources to raise awareness and understanding of modern India.

India is the world’s largest democracy, with massive and rapidly expanding global economic and geopolitical influence. In the coming decade, India is forecast to become the third-largest economy in the world and, as of 2024, is already the most populous country. Current U.S. foreign policy has reinforced the critical importance of ties between the U.S. and India, and the U.S. is home to the largest number of Indians in any country outside of Asia. These factors, combined with India’s rise as a global leader, underscore the importance of our students and community having a deep understanding of the diverse, dynamic India of today.

As a leading global public research university and home to the Carolina Asia Center – the first center of its kind in the southeastern U.S. – UNC-Chapel Hill is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of advancing knowledge of present-day India across North Carolina, the United States and beyond. In partnership with leaders from North Carolina’s Indian American community, UNC has embarked on a bold initiative to transform the model for Indian studies. Carolina is forging ahead in establishing the country’s leading program in modern Indian studies – increasing knowledge and understanding of the India of today and its rapidly evolving future.


Director Meenu Tewari works on the political economy of economic and industrial development, poverty alleviation, small firms, and the urban informal economy from a comparative, institutional perspective. She teaches in the areas of economic development, historical and institutional analysis of development processes, and microeconomics.

Dr. Tewari’s research focuses on comparative local economic development, and upgrading and adjustment in developed and developing countries. She is particularly interested in the implications of global competition for firms, workers, public sector institutions, and local economies, as well as the prospects for upward mobility in regions that are restructuring. Her research explores why, and under what conditions, are some regions, firms, workers, and institutions more able to deal resiliently and innovatively with the pressures of globalization than others; and what kinds of institutional arrangements and circumstances help diffuse these capabilities widely within the regional economy.

Dr. Tewari is a member of the Research and Advisory Committee of the Institute of Small Enterprise Development in India and has served as a consultant with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the World Bank, International Labor Organization, the Asian Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. She taught at MIT from 1997 to 1999 as a lecturer in Economic Development and Urban Planning. Prior to that, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the IFO Institute for Economic Research in Munich, Germany.

Inaugural Director Anusha Chari is a professor of economics and finance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the associate chair and director of mentoring for the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP). She is also a research associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s International Finance and Macroeconomics Program, research fellow at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, senior research fellow at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and senior fellow the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University. She received a doctorate in international finance from UCLA and a B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics at Balliol College at Oxford and economics at the University of Delhi. She was the recipient of a Radhakrishnan Scholarship for study at Oxford and a University of California Office of the President Dissertation Fellowship.

She has held faculty positions at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the University of Michigan and The Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. She was a research associate at the Swiss Institute of Banking and Finance in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and a summer intern at the International Monetary Fund. Professor Chari was a special advisor to the Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and member of an Advisory Group of Eminent Persons on G20 Issues. Her research is in the fields of open-economy macroeconomics and international finance. Chari is the author of multiple articles published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Financial Economics, American Economic Journal-Macroeconomics and Journal of International Economics. Chari teaches courses on Multinational Financial Management, International Financial Markets, and Open Economy Macroeconomics in the MBA, BBSA and Ph.D. programs at UNC.


Joseph Cabosky
Assistant Professor
Hussman School of Media and Journalism

Christina Cruz
School of Medicine– Psychiatry

Anusha Chari
Kenan-Flagler Business School; Department of Economics

Prema Menezes
School of Medicine

Townsend Middleton
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology

Rohit Ramaswamy
Gillings School of Global Public Health

Prabir Roy-Choudhury
School of Medicine – Nephrology


Carolina Asia Center

UNC Center for Convergent Science

Carolina Population Center

UNC College of Arts & Sciences

UNC Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

The Water Institute at UNC

Fred Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs

UNC Global

Embassy of India, Washington, D.C.

RTI International

Partnerships in India – TBC

Centre for Policy Research

Centre for Social and Economic Progress

Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies

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Meenu Tewari

If you are interested in supporting the Modern Indian Studies initiative, please reach out to Meenu Tewari.

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