Recent decades of globalisation provide a new starting point for the study of south Asia by highlighting critical human issues that force history into the present and generate new productive conversations between history and social science. One fundamental issue is the increasing inequality in wealth and control over human resources, globally and in south Asia. Economic policy regimes in the contemporary world resemble those of laissez-faire imperalism of a century ago more than national state planning regimes that prevailed from the 1950s into the 1980s.