After leaving government service in 2010, he has headed the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a prestigious think tank focusing on economic issues (2011-2017) and was Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board under the National Security Council (2013-15). He is Member of the Governing Board of the Centre for Policy Research and of the Institute of Chinese Studies. His first book, How India Sees the World was published in 2017.
He has recently published his second book, How China Sees India and the World. Saran was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award, in 2011 for his contributions to civil service. In May 2019, he was conferred the Spring Order Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan for promoting India-Japan relations.