Urban WASH: Safe Water for South Asia, is ISAS' urban water initiative designed to showcase various events and speakers focusing on addressing the urgent need to address urban water and sanitation issues in South Asia. We are very proud to announce that we have been selected for the prestigious Obama-Singh Award for 2014. A Cal team led by Cal water experts Isha Ray and Kara Nelson will collaborate with IIT-B's Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas on a 3-year project titled, "Sustainable Indian Water Infrastructure Project: A Systems Approach."

For more on this and other South Asia related water or urbanization projects on campus, click here >>


The 21st century will be an Asian century. But it will also be an urban century with much of this urbanization taking place in Asian cities, especially in India and China. India’s rapid urban growth thus presents a call to scholars, policy-makers, planners, and civil society activists to engage with the various potentialities and challenges. In recognition of the urgency of the issue, ISAS launched The 21st Century Indian City, a research initiative that spanned three years and comprised of three international conferences:  Developing an Agenda for Urbanization in India (New Delhi, India, March 2011), Working Towards Being Slum Free? (Berkeley, CA, April 2012), and Towns, Metros, and the Indian Economy (Bangalore, India, March 2013). Preceding the second conference was Urban WASH: Paradigms for Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for the 21st Century South Asian City, a graduate student symposium focusing primarily on urban water management. 

Report on 1st Conference    |    Report on 2nd Conference    |    Report on 3rd Conference plus Thinking about the 21st Century Indian City by Sanchita Saxena and Gowri Vijayakumar for the Economic and Political Weekly.

Baatcheet Around the Bay is a year-long collaborative program with the Asian Art Museum San Francisco, San Jose Museum of Art, Berkeley Art Museum, and Stanford University, designed to increase public understanding in the Bay Area about South Asian art and visual culture. Loosely based on the Japanese design-presentation model Pecha Kucha (pe-chak-cha) and short format TED talks, Baatcheet Around the Bay brings scholars, curators, students, visual and performance artists, collectors, art enthusiasts, and members of the Bay Area community together for a series of multimedia conversations over the course of one year. Each Baatcheet consists of several short (5-7 minute) presentations that can incorporate visual, audio, performative, and textual components. Each program shares the common goal of inciting dynamic, public conversations about art and visual culture of South Asia.  More >>

The University of California at Berkeley is a global leader for the study of South Asia, and one of very few institutions in the United States to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs focusing on this vital region. Pakistan-related studies are a critical element of South Asia studies and the Institute for South Asia Studies (ISAS) is strongly committed to strengthening our engagement with this subject in the years ahead. With this in mind, therefore on October 8, 2013, CSAS officially launched a Pakistan@Berkeley Initiative. The goal is to broaden and deepen understanding of Pakistan through on-campus talks and conferences, promote scholarly exchanges between UC Berkeley and educational institutions in Pakistan, raise funds for graduate fellowships (to train the next generation of scholars of Pakistan), create an annual prize for the best doctoral dissertation on Pakistan, and provide funding for Pakistan-specific courses at UC Berkeley.  Read more about Cal's engagements with Pakistan including faculty working in this region and past and current programs and events here >>

Cover of Governance & Empowerment reportIndia is unique in history in having a sustained democracy in a poor country with a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. Today, its economic strength is also widely recognized and celebrated. The role democratic processes play in the sustenance and diffusion of this economic strength into the wider reaches of Indian society is a central question that must be engaged. In order to create an environment in which such crucial questions can be discussed and alternative solutions offered by politicians, policy makers, thought leaders, NGO activists, and scholars, the Institute for South Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, together with the Foundation for Democratic Reforms in India (FDRI), organized two a high-level annual seminars, the first in May 2007 and the second in September 2008,  hosted on the Berkeley campus. The primary objective of these seminars was to provide direction and reflection on key issues that may challenge the democratic institutions of India in the 21st century. The aim was to generate ideas that would not only spur greater understanding of complex issues, but could also be implemented in terms of policy.  More >>

The Berkeley Urdu Initiative was officially launched on September 25, 2011, with a fundraising drive to create a permanent endowment to protect the position of the Urdu lecturer as well as Urdu instruction at UC Berkeley.

Urdu language instruction has been part of Berkeley's South Asian language curriculum since the late 1950s and we offer instruction in Urdu at all levels, from beginning to advanced. Berkeley does not combine Urdu and Hindi instruction. We are also extremely proud to report that after a 5 year hiatus the Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan's (BULPIP) is back and the first cohort will soon be leaving for a semester-long study abroad program based in Lahore.

We are happy to report that by the spring of 2013, with the support of donors both in the US as well as in Pakistan, we reached our goal of raising the required $300K. This amount, along with with the generous support of UC Berkeley and the US Dept. of Education's Title VI Grant, help reaffirm the university’s place as one of the premier instructions for the study and propagation of Urdu in the United States. Our present priorities for Urdu Studies at Berkeley include raising money to: a) create a fund to support Urdu programming, b) create an artist/scholar-in-residence program, and c) create an endowed book prize. Read more about this initiative here >>


Professor (emeritus) of Tamil Studies, George Hart Awarded the Padma Shri for 2015

We are delighted to announce that George Hart has just been awarded the Padma Shri, among the highest honors given by the Government of India.

Read more about Professor Hart and Berkeley's Tamil program here >>