Sunil Khilnani

Avantha Professor and Director, King's India Institute

Kings College London

Sunil Khilnani’s research interests lie at the intersection of various fields: intellectual history and the study of political thought, the history of modern India, democratic theory in relation to its recent non-Western experiences, the politics of contemporary India, and strategic thought in the definition of India’s place in the world.He was born in New Delhi and grew up in India, Africa, and Europe. He was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took a first in Social and Political Sciences, and at King’s College, Cambridge, where he gained his Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences.

Prior to becoming Director of the King’s India Institute he was, from 2001 to 2011, the Starr Foundation Professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington D.C., and Director of South Asia Studies at SAIS, a programme that he established in 2002.
Sunil Khilnani was formerly Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has been a visiting professor of politics at Seikei University, Tokyo, and was elected a Research Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge. He has also held a Leverhulme Fellowship, and has been a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, and a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin.

He has served as a member of several editorial boards, including Economy and Society, Critique Internationale, and the Political Quarterly, and is a member of the Scientific Council of the Institute for Advanced Study in Nantes, the Instituto Oriente in Lisbon, and a Governor of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Trust. He is a recipient of the 2005 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, awarded by the Indian government. He is completing a book on India’s global role and prospects, while he continues to research studies of Jawaharlal Nehru and the history of democracy in India – two of his long-term projects.