As south Asia stumbles along the path of greater economic integration and convergence, what has been brought sharply into focus are the common and sometimes interconnected range of violent conflicts, social and cultural practices and, structures of governance. Entrenched patriarchal norms are just as common across the region as are informal and customary laws and practices that offer stiff challenges to Constitutional guarantees and procedures. The range of violent conflicts that the region is witnessing, while local in nature, have deep rooted connections to the history of the region. Patterns of governance draw on not only a shared colonial legacy but also Constitutional processes that have overlapping trajectories. This project is located in the idea that a regional and comparative study in the area of justice makes possible a more nuanced understanding of state formation and practices in the region because of a shared past and present. It also allows us to explore the inextricable ways in which the quest for justice is linked to the future of the region and the continuing importance that contests will hold for this future.
Accountability of states and governance structures has been the focus of research and policy interventions internationally for some time – its lack is seen as a key impediment to justice. This project is located within this argument that policy relevant knowledge creation and advocacy on justice is critical to ensure accountability of governmental structures towards social democratic goals. The project views the negotiation of justice as the key intersections around which lives of people and democratic institutions encounter each other and create a range of effects that will continue to determine the future of societies and cultures of south Asia.