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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Virginia Vandyke
SISSA 340
Seattle Campus

Government and Politics of South Asia

Comparison of problems of national integration and political development in India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Offered: jointly with POL S 340.

Class description

Description: To many Americans India seems both remote and full of contradictions—a nation of extreme poverty, high tech industries, spiritual enlightenment, and, inexplicably, the site of a nuclear threat. Although India has never been the timeless, changeless society that travelogues on the Ganges River would have it, in the last several decades transitions and changes have become dramatic. The rise of Hindu nationalism is challenging the nature of the Indian state, while previously unempowered groups are flexing their political muscle, triggering a transformation along with unrest. Globalization and liberal economic reforms are impacting Indian society and business, and generating resistance. Further, India continues to confound theorists trying to explain the success of the world's largest democracy.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This course will examine the politics of South Asia. It will touch on Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but will focus largely on India. The course will begin with the legacy of colonialism, the establishment of post-colonial states, and the functioning of political institutions. We will then turn to discussing issues such changes in the relationships between castes and classes, communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, economic liberalization, and ethno-religious separatist movements such as the Khalistan movement in Punjab and the Tamil Eelam movement in Sri Lanka.

Recommended preparation

Grading: Grades will be based on the following percentages: 25% for the mid-term, 30% for the final, 35% for the research paper, and 10% for an additional 'news report' assignment.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 07/08/2004