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Articles in South Asia

India Fighting Bull Semen Smuggling Ring

By Martin W. Lewis | March 12, 2012 |
Ongole Bull

According to a recent article in The Hindu, The government of Andhra Pradesh in India has recently put all airports and seaports in the state on high alter, due to concerns about the smuggling of genetic material by organized crime syndicates. The material in question is “semen of the Ongole bull, acclaimed as one of the world’s best bovine [breeds] available.”

No New State for the Beleaguered Garo People of India

By Martin W. Lewis | February 17, 2012 |

India’s Economic Times recently noted that the demand by the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) for the creation a new Indian state for the Garo people was not going to be met, dashing hopes that a negotiated settlement could end one of northeastern India’s numerous “tribal” insurgencies,

Stalin Urges Love for the Tamil Race

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2012 | 2 Comments

Tamil Nadu, a populous and increasingly successful state, stands apart on the Indian electoral map, as its politics have long been dominated by Dravidianist parties focused on the distinction between Dravidian-speakers of southern India from Indo-European-speakers of the north.

Hazara Exodus from Quetta

By Martin W. Lewis | | 3 Comments

A recent UN report indicates that the Hazara people of Quetta Pakistan are living in such terror that the entire community may abandon the country.

The Politics of Pakistani Cricket

By Martin W. Lewis | February 9, 2012 | One Comment

India and Pakistan have not played a cricket test series since 2007, as athletic relations between the two countries were frozen after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. A recent geopolitical thaw, however, has led…

The Complex and Contentious Issue of Afghan Identity

By Martin W. Lewis | November 19, 2011 | 26 Comments
Map showing different definitions of the term

“Afghanistan” is an oddly constructed place name. It is usually said to be a Persian word meaning “land of the Pashtuns.” The widely used suffix “stan” is Persian for “place of” or “land of,” cognate with the English “stead” (as in “homestead”) and ultimately with “stand.” “Afghan” is usually considered synonymous with “Pashtun.” From the Pashtun perspective, “Afghanistan” is an …

The Afghan “Graveyard of Empires” Myth and the Wakhan Corridor

By Martin W. Lewis | November 9, 2011 | 3 Comments
Map of Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan

The idea that Afghanistan is the “Graveyard of Empires,” a country that perennially entices imperial conquerors only to humiliate and expel them, is often encountered.  This potent cliché has been thoroughly debunked, yet it refuses to die. An October 7, 2011 Time magazine article, for example, opens with the provocative headline, “Afghanistan: Endgame in the Graveyard of Empires.” And as …

Thomas Friedman’s Afghanistan Fantasies

By Martin W. Lewis | November 6, 2011 | 19 Comments
Wikipedia Map of the Persian Safavid Empire

On November 1, 2011, noted New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman implicitly placed the United States in “a long list of suckers,” a roster composed of countries that had been foolish enough to invade Afghanistan. Friedman came up with the idea while on a tour of historical sites in northern India. When told by a guide that in the …

Insurgency, Sex, and Tribalism in Northeastern India

By Martin W. Lewis | June 3, 2011 | 2 Comments
Map of language and religion in northeastern India

The small Indian state of Tripura was until recently beleaguered by insurgency, much like its neighbors in northeastern India. South Asia Terrorism Portal lists one active terrorist/insurgent group, two proscribed groups, and twenty-two inactive ones. Most have championed indigenous claims to land and autonomy, opposing the Bengali migration that has transformed the state.

Red Tripura and the Geopolitics of Greater Bengal

By Martin W. Lewis | June 1, 2011 | 13 Comments
Map of Indian states by party of government, 2011

India’s regional elections in early May 2011 saw the devastating defeat of the far left. After having ruled the 91-million-strong state of West Bengal for thirty-four years, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [abbreviated as CPI(M)] lost 146 seats in the Legislative Assembly, retaining only 42. In what could be an epochal loss, the larger

Border Delineation and Geopolitical Wrangling between India and Bangladesh

By Martin W. Lewis | May 30, 2011 | 3 Comments

Progress on the India-Bangladesh border barrier has been slower than expected, due in part to difficulties in determining precisely where the border runs. Such problems might seem surprising. In the standard model of geopolitics, international borders are clearly delineated, one-dimensional lines that absolutely separate sovereign states. In practice, however, borders are often contested and sometimes

India’s Second Most Dangerous Border?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 26, 2011 | 3 Comments
Map of the India-Bangladesh Border

The May 21-27 issue of The Economist describes the line separating India from Pakistan as “the world’s most dangerous border,” an assessment difficult to deny. But India’s 4023-kilometer (2,500-mile) border with Bangladesh is perilous as well. The Indo-Bangladeshi boundary is in some respects more barricaded than that between India and Pakistan. Half of the

Stereotypes and Social Hierarchy in Western Pakistan: From British Rule to the Current Insurrection

By Martin W. Lewis | May 24, 2011 | 14 Comments
Map of British Strategies for Ruling Pakistan

Western supporters of the Balochistan insurgency often emphasize the region’s religious moderation, arguing that an independent Baloch state would buffer Islamic extremism. Such views are of long standing; British empire-builders similarly contrasted the religious laxity of the Baloch with the stridency of their Pashtun neighbors. But religiosity varies at the individual as well as the

Balochistan and a New “Great Game” in Central Asia?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 20, 2011 | 17 Comments
Map of the rivalry between Chabahar and Gwadar

Balochistan is an impoverished region beleaguered by insurgency and ethnic strife. But it is rich in resources and it occupies an increasingly vital geo-strategic position. As a result, Balochistan has been the focus of massive infrastructural projects. Iran and Pakistan are developing competing port, rail, and highway networks

Support for the Baloch Insurgency: Right-wing or Left-wing?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 18, 2011 | 14 Comments
Ralph Peters Alternative Map of the Middle East

A recent (May 14) discussion thread in GeoCurrents takes on the one-dimensional left/right political spectrum. Jim Wilson perceptively notes that he “always like[s] watching political commentators trying to decide whether those who want to roll back the reforms of Deng Xiaoping are the right wing or the left wing of the Chinese Communist Party.” Another

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