By Jeremy Clegg, AIB President

It was in November last year that I wrote to you about the creation of AIB Asia Pacific, and now it gives me yet more pleasure to tell you we have created AIB South Asia, our most recent regional chapter.

For many years, AIB has been represented in South Asia by the India Chapter, and now we have gone further and expanded our presence in the region, with a new chapter that encompasses not only India, but other South Asian countries which could be more effectively served through international collaboration among our association’s leadership: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka.

It is impossible for me to go any further in this article without paying tribute to our AIB leadership team in South Asia. This new chapter came into existence on May 1 at a time when the scourge of COVID-19 had led to great suffering and loss of life within the region. It is a measure of the fortitude and the dedication of the new AIB South Asia leadership team that they have persevered in the face of this exceptional adversity. Their resolve will mean that, in the fullness of time, South Asia will build a community of International Business scholars within AIB that could never have been envisaged without their dedication.

So, drawing on the courage of our AIB South Asia Chapter leadership, we look forward to a new future in which our subject field of International Business will prosper and expand within South Asia, with AIB at the heart of this upturn.

Spearheading the construction of the Chapter has been Farok Contractor, our President-Elect. Farok has masterminded the design of the chapter structure and painstakingly identified the leaders that we need for our most recent regional renaissance. Thus, even in these most difficult times, the creation of the new chapter has provided us a solid base for maintaining our established membership levels within the South Asia region–even yielding notable increases in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

The new AIB South Asia leadership team, chaired by Professor S. Raghunath of IIM-Bangalore, is supported by a team of some half a dozen vice-chairs from within India, plus country directors and representatives, whose role is to develop AIB’s services to members, both chapter-wide, and within each member state. Additionally, a group of leading scholars has committed to support this newborn chapter, serving as an International Advisory Council.

A critical innovation in the structuring of AIB South Asia is that, from the outset, its chapter officers have taken on specific roles to promote AIB’s mission. These include pedagogy and research, amongst other priorities. This approach underscores the chapter’s academic and developmental mission: To make it the go-to organization for aspirational teachers and researchers within South Asia. Coordinating the AIB Executive Board’s support for AIB South Asia is Vice-President for Administration Dana Minbaeva. Already, Dana is channeling expertise from AIB’s Teaching & Education Shared Interest Group to the chapter.

To top it all off, our President-Elect, Farok Contractor, is directing a major regional initiative in the form of Faculty Development Workshops, aimed at junior faculty members, doctoral students, and early-career researchers. Made possible through the generous support of the Sheth Foundation, with matching funding provided by AIB, a series of planned research and teaching development workshops focused on International Marketing and Global Strategy will deliver new value to AIB members in South Asia.

As with our association’s regional expansion in Asia Pacific, our strategic direction with AIB South Asia remains consistent: Regional chapters are the way ahead. This does not preclude local activity within individual nations and, indeed, we expect this new organizational structure to yield increased activity at all levels. But now, AIB as a whole will be better positioned both to support scholars in South Asia and to benefit from those members’ dynamism and regional expertise.