A global imagination: Professor Aseema Sinha opens windows to an informed citizenry

The spark: As a child in New Delhi, Aseema Sinha was surrounded by political discussion “in the kitchen, at the dining table, everywhere” with her socially conscious parents. Her doctoral program and mentors trained her to marry deep and contextual knowledge of India with political science, and curiosity about the rest of the world spurred her to think big. Sinha is an expert on the political economy of India, India-China comparisons, and international organizations. She inspires her students to love distant lands. Through the lens of political science, she helps them better understand a complex and fast-changing world.

  • Aseema Sinha, Wagener Chair of Comparative Politics and George R. Roberts Fellow
  • Expertise: India, South Asia, international relations, political economy
  • At CMC since: July 2011
  • Hometown: New Delhi, India

“I believe that my role is to share a global imagination with students so that they can understand their own unique place as actors among the complex web of political, economic, and social networks,” said Sinha, Wagener Chair of Comparative Politics (with a focus on South Asia) and George R. Roberts Fellow. “Political ideas vary and change across different countries, and we can’t close our door to the global world. We need to open windows of ideas and understanding for creating an informed public and citizenry.”

Student experience: Sinha has found a hungry audience for understanding global politics among CMC students. “They are diverse, engaged, and do not shy away from challenges,” she said. “Every semester, I love meeting new students who make me see the world in different ways. I enjoy learning about the subject matter through their eyes. Each class and classroom experience is unique and powerful as all of us learn from each other. I love how we all create communities of learning and of understanding difficult problems.”

The rise of India: Sinha’s most popular classes reflect her personal background and interests: “Comparing Social Movements Across the World,” “International Relations of South Asia,” and “India in Asia.” A particular focus is the rise of the economies of Asian countries and how they are shaped by their interactions with Western nations. She has also covered these topics in her books, Globalizing India: How Global Rules and Markets are Shaping India’s Rise to Power, and the award-winning The Regional Roots of Developmental Politics in India: A Divided Leviathan. “In the early 1990s, India began an economic reform program that permeated different levels, and that unleashed new hopes, anxieties, aspirations, and economic changes. This slowly but surely created new linkages and interests with the outside world,” she said. “Simultaneously, the world order changed, and the end of the Cold War began to create the need in the U.S. and Western powers to engage with countries such as India, which were becoming more active at the global level.”

Pick a favorite: Although she teaches in three majors (government, international relations, and PPE: philosophy, politics, and economics), Sinha said the government major is particularly “close to my heart, as I am a political scientist.”

“Many people have a negative view of politics, but politics is also the source of diverse solutions. CMC students get this, and they strive to learn about politics through a public affairs lens that seeks appropriate solutions and actions,” Sinha said.

Samantha Bonar