Current Research

My research investigates moral puzzles in contemporary politics and public policy. I address these puzzles in a manner that is realistic rather than abstract or speculative. That is, I take politics as it can be in our often violent and conflicted world, not as it could be under ideal conditions. Hence, the advice and solutions I offer are sensitive to context and consequences. In slightly more technical language, I do problem-driven political theory, from a consequentialist perspective, employing realist methods.

I have recently started work on my second book project, Decent Regimes. It makes the case for respecting regimes that are not liberal democratic but that provide more stability and well-being than a democratic regime can under troubled conditions. The value of such regimes becomes clear when we see how democratization has tended to generate corrupt, violent, and illiberal regimes in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. In such cases, I argue, the international community ought to support an equivalent to a decent regime — namely, internationally administered trusteeships.

Presently I am completing a co-authored manuscript, provisionally entitled How to be Great?: India’s Quest to Find Its Place in the World. This book examines the role that Indian intellectuals, administrators, and elites believe India can and ought to play in international politics. I am responsible for the first half of the manuscript, which traces Indian thinking on war and peace since the mid-nineteenth century. The rare archival materials unearthed during my research into this topic will be published in the form of a Reader.

Research Project

Ideas of India

A website curated by Rahul Sagar seeks to further the study of modern Indian political thought by drawing attention to the vibrant public sphere that took shape in the century prior to independence