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Showing posts for "Alyssa Ayres"

Nepal Quake: Governance Matters

by Alyssa Ayres
People work to rescue trapped people inside a temple in Bashantapur Durbar Square after an earthquake hit, in Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25, 2015 (Navresh Chitrakar/Courtesy: Reuters). People work to rescue trapped people inside a temple in Bashantapur Durbar Square after an earthquake hit, in Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25, 2015 (Navresh Chitrakar/Courtesy: Reuters).

Several years ago, I went on an “Earthquake Walk” in downtown Kathmandu, a walk designed to raise awareness about the city’s vulnerability to a major earthquake. As we ducked into a traditional courtyard, winding our way through a low narrow corridor before emerging into an open square surrounded by high traditional homes, we saw a big stick propping one edge of a building up against another. I’ve thought a lot about that stick today—its inadequacy, its fragility—as news of Nepal’s quake poured in. Read more »

The U.S. Presidential Race: Marco Rubio’s Surprising Interest in India

by Alyssa Ayres
Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy: Reuters). Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is part of a series looking at how India and South Asia will feature in the American presidential election of 2016.

Among the Republican field, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has a well-known interest in foreign policy. Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, he has served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He has made his voice heard especially in the debate over policy toward Cuba, from where his parents fled. What’s lesser known, and a bit more surprising, is this: the junior senator from Florida also has a declared interest in India. Read more »

The U.S. Presidential Race: Hillary and India

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces a member of "Sewa," a women's self-employment voluntary organisation during her visit to their office in Mumbai on July 18, 2009 (Arko Datta/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces a member of "Sewa," a women's self-employment voluntary organisation during her visit to their office in Mumbai on July 18, 2009 (Arko Datta/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is the first of a series looking at how India and South Asia will feature in the American presidential election of 2016.

Hillary Clinton’s April 12, 2015 presidential campaign launch kicked the U.S. presidential race for 2016 into higher gear. It’s also the first American campaign announcement to garner significant media attention in India. Due to her long history with India—as first lady, a senator, and secretary of state—Clinton is a known quantity in the region and has a clearly articulated policy record on South Asia, unlike other presidential candidates. One Indian paper covered her campaign launch with the headline, “Hillary hearts India.” That background makes it easier to assess how a possible Clinton administration might approach ties with India. Read more »

Why the United States Should Work With India to Stabilize Afghanistan

by Alyssa Ayres
"Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 18th SAARC summit," November 2014. Photo by Narendra Modi licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original. "Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 18th SAARC summit," November 2014. Photo by Narendra Modi licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original.

President Ashraf Ghani’s successful visit to Washington last month notwithstanding, the headlines out of Afghanistan since the end of international combat operations in December 2014 have mostly been grim. The Taliban have stepped up attacks since the start of 2015, and the self-declared Islamic State has spread to Afghanistan. During the March UN Security Council session held to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UN Special Representative Nicholas Haysom told the Security Council that the Islamic State banner might serve to unite disparate radical groups. Read more »

Murdering the Idea of Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Earlier this week, a young blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death outside his Dhaka home. This is the third such attack— gruesome butcherings by machete—in the past two years, and all three have targeted “atheist bloggers.” With a third murder, we can no longer see these as purely isolated incidents; rather, they now form a chilling pattern. Read more »

Kafka in Paradise: Maldives Court Sentences Former President for Terrorism

by Alyssa Ayres
March 10, 2014. Photo by Dying Regime licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original. March 10, 2014. Photo by Dying Regime licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.

On March 13, a Maldivian court found Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to thirteen years in prison.

The specific act of which Nasheed was accused? Ordering the arrest of a criminal court judge back in 2012 when Nasheed was still president of the island nation of 400,000 people. The mismatch between accusation and conviction beggars belief. Read more »

IMF Worried About Bangladesh’s Growth

by Alyssa Ayres
Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar on April 11, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). Women work at Goldtex Limited garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar on April 11, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Bangladesh has been wracked by political protests over the past two years. Paradoxically, despite the country’s dysfunctional politics, its economy has done well. Last year, the all-important garment sector defied the odds and actually grew around 14 percent between July 2013 and May 2014. This insulation of the economy from the country’s toxic politics may be coming to an end, however. Since early January, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has led street protests (hartals) along with transportation blockades. For the last two months, the daily strikes and protests have continued, keeping the country at a low boil, and resulting in the death of more than 120 people. Read more »

The Indian Budget: Cautious But Resolute

by Alyssa Ayres
A staff member (L) passes a pen to Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before making the final touches to the federal budget 2015/16 in New Delhi on February 27, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters). A staff member (L) passes a pen to Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before making the final touches to the federal budget 2015/16 in New Delhi on February 27, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

In a country whose media exists in a perpetual fever-pitch of excitement, a consensus has formed around the first full-year budget of the Narendra Modi government presented on February 28, 2015: No big bang reforms. For those who have not been following this closely, here are the highlights, along with links to primary sources for further reading. Read more »

Few Takers for Hindi

by Alyssa Ayres
Indic Scripts, 2013. Photo by Rohini Lakshané licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped from original. Indic Scripts, 2013. Photo by Rohini Lakshané licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cropped from original.

Another year, another survey: the Modern Language Association (MLA) has released its quadrennial language enrollments survey of foreign languages in U.S. higher education. I’m sorry to report that American students continue to display very low interest in Indian languages. This continues a pattern going back decades. Despite the Indian economy’s rapid growth, and the increase in U.S.-India diplomatic ties, students in U.S. colleges and universities are not signing up for Indian languages at remotely the scale languages like Arabic, Chinese, or Korean experience. Read more »

What the Delhi Elections Mean for Indian Foreign and International Economic Policy (Not Much, Yet)

by Alyssa Ayres
Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hold portraits of AAP chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, during the celebrations outside their party office in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters). Supporters of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hold portraits of AAP chief and its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, during the celebrations outside their party office in New Delhi on February 10, 2015 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters).

Delhi voters just elected—by a landslide—the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to lead their state assembly. What’s more, the chief minister will again be quirkily charismatic Arvind Kejriwal, who led the new anti-corruption party to a strong showing in Delhi in December 2013 but abandoned governance for street sit-ins and staged public protests. He then quit government after forty-nine days and plunged the state into a long period of uncertainty. Despite this, wielding brooms and wrapping a scarf (“muffler” in India, hence his nickname “Mufflerman”) around his head during winter, Kejriwal campaigned aggressively to root out corruption and provide free water, half-rate electricity, and a better jobs deal for the poor. It worked. Read more »