Ronak D. Desai

I am an Affiliate the South Asia Institute at Harvard University.

Ronak D. Desai is an Affiliate at the South Asia Institute at Harvard University. A recognized scholar in the fields of law and foreign policy, his scholarship focuses on U.S.-India relations, diaspora politics, anticorruption and global governance. Mr. Desai has extensive legal and policy experience in the public and private sectors. From 2014-2016, he served as the Democratic Counsel to the Select Committee on Benghazi in the United States Congress. In this capacity, he was one of the attorneys who conducted the investigation of the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. His previous Capitol Hill experience also includes his time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. In 2006, Mr. Desai was involved in efforts to help secure Congressional approval for the landmark U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush that same year. He routinely advises Members of Congress on legal and foreign policy issues, particularly pertaining to South Asia. In the private sector, Mr. Desai’s practice at a prominent international law firm encompasses a range of litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters. He has represented clients in front of both the Executive and Legislative Branches. He has also litigated in state and federal court on both the trial and appellate levels. He has conducted numerous white collar, export control and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations for individual and multinational clients. Additionally, Mr. Desai is member of the Aspen India Strategy Group, a Fellow at the Truman National Security Project and an Asia 21 Young Leader at the Asia Society. He serves as General Counsel and Board of Director to the Partnership for a Secure America, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank. In 2016, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Mr. Desai to her Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He also teaches a popular course on U.S. foreign policy toward South Asia at the Johns Hopkins University. He is a regular contributor to a host of prominent publications in both the United States and the Asia Pacific. Mr. Desai earned his undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University, and joint public policy and law degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude. He can be reached at