The Centre of Excellence for Himalayan Studies under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence (SNIoE) is a research centre focussed on the economy, borders and identities, the environment and regional geopolitics of the wider Himalayan region including the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram. While there are scholars of the Himalayas and small centres and research groups focused on the region, there is a need for institutionalised efforts at the national level that brings together a wide variety of disciplinary and sectoral approaches to the study of what is one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive and politically fraught regions and one that simultaneously has a significant influence on the economic livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. At the same time, it is difficult to ignore the role of geopolitics in this region.
Therefore, even as the Centre pushes for an approach to studying the Himalayas that crosses both national and disciplinary boundaries as well as engenders a three-way conversation between central and local governments, academia and the people who live in the region, it also remains sharply aware of and is attuned to geopolitics and the policy imperatives that surround it.
The Centre reflects SNIoE’s global outlook and ambitions, focusing on engaging researchers with niche or specialised interest in the wider Himalayas, and identifying and creating a network of scholars in the field, both in India and externally, to support its work. This critical mass of scholars of and from the region will redress the longstanding neglect or asymmetrical representation of the Himalayas and beyond, in knowledge, discourse and policy interventions. It also aims to develop and utilise strong links with the policy community and government agencies in a mutually supportive exercise.
The Centre also signifies a leadership role for the SNIoE, as it attempts to fill gaps in both academic and policy spaces. This leadership role is in keeping with the University’s identity and goals of promoting innovation, creativity and inter-disciplinary engagement in the field of Indian education. The Centre also offers the SNIoE’s own faculty and students opportunities to collaborate with counterparts from across the wider Himalayan region as well as those working on the region from elsewhere in the world.