Faculty in Focus: Dr. Arvind Kumar
In addition to directing the Study Abroad Programme (SAP) and heading the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Dr. Arvnd Kumar also teaches the following courses at Manipal University: IAFF 360 Regional Security in South Asia, IAFF 365 Strategy and Practice of India Foreign Policy, POLS 380 Contemporary Indian Politics, and DIRR 380 Directed Research. He works closely with the Alliance for Global Education on the Global and Public Health program in Manipal. He was recently in Washington, D.C. as part of a multi-week lecture circuit at U.S. colleges and universities, and we sat down for a conversation about international relations, national security, and counter-terrorism – and undergraduate research at Manipal.
What sparked your interest in international relations and why?
In a country like India, which has 1.3 billion people, we need to understand our place in the world and in our neighborhood. While doing my M.A. in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, I started analyzing these things. I worked in a think tank, and then founded a M.A./Ph.D. program in geopolitics at Manipal University. After working for several years in the field, I realized India as a rising power needs a new generation of security analysts with the Indian perspective.
You edited the book Science and Technology to counter terrorism: the Proceedings of an Indo-US workshop. How do you think that India and the U.S. can work together on counter terrorism and national security?
Terrorism has been a menace to the world and is a global problem. We had organized a workshop of the top minds from the US and Indian sides and brought out a nice understanding of the role of technology in counter terrorism. The science advisor to President Obama contributed a chapter. In this book we brought together the nuances and perspectives of both India and the United States. The sharing of intelligence is vital to containing security threats on both sides.
In addition to teaching courses in International Affairs and Politics, you also guide the Directed Research course. What should study abroad students know about doing research in India?
They should know the socio-economic issues of India. Once they know India’s perspective, they can get away from one-sided analysis. The best research is that which has a balanced interpretation. Students also choose very sensitive subjects, and so they need to know the context. There is a lot of opportunity at Manipal University for research.
What should prospective students know about studying abroad at Manipal University?
There is a lot of potential for learning at Manipal. I see many students coming with a passion for learning. They should take advantage of Manipal University’s faculty. It’s the right time for U.S. students to study abroad in India and experience it through theoretical and practical learning at Manipal University in collaboration with the Alliance.