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Showing posts for "Alyssa Ayres"

The Indian Elections—What the Congress Party Has to Say About Foreign Policy

by Alyssa Ayres
Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi holds her party's manifesto for the April/May general election in New Delhi March 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters). Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi holds her party's manifesto for the April/May general election in New Delhi on March 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

With India’s national elections about to kick off on April 7, politics dominates the media and private conversations alike. Most of the conversation focuses on the poll horse race, at this point heavily favoring the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to win more than 200 of the 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament and form a coalition government. (Click here to learn three things to know about the upcoming elections). Read more »

The Indian Elections and Indian Foreign Policy: What Tamil Nadu Parties Have to Say

by Alyssa Ayres
Jayalalithaa File photo: J. Jayalalithaa, current chief minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of Anna Dravida Munnetra Khazhagam (AIADMK), greets her supporters from the balcony of her residence (Babu Babu/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections

Campaigning for India’s national elections is in full swing. Parties have begun nominating candidates and 543 races for the lower house of parliament are on. But despite the election fever pitch, the two major national parties—the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party—have not yet released their election platforms, or “manifestos,” as they are called. This leaves voters and observers playing a parlor guessing game on the domestic and foreign policy priorities each will formally prioritize. This year’s manifesto writing process even has a new crowdsourcing twist: Both Congress and BJP are accepting suggestions on the web. Read more »

Indian Politics: From Identity to Governance

by Alyssa Ayres
Election Commission of India India's Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath (C) listens to a reporter's question during a news conference to announce election dates, in New Delhi March 5, 2014. India's mammoth parliamentary election will start on April 7 (Anandito Mukherjee/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

In the fall of 1990, I got off an Air India flight and landed in Delhi for the first time. I was taking part in a college semester abroad program, and was ready to learn about the world’s largest democracy. Little did I know how much there would be to learn. Read more »

Ukraine’s Lessons for Asia

by Alyssa Ayres
A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Adnan Abidi). A signboard is seen from the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series on the implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine. See related posts from my colleagues Elizabeth Economy and Sheila Smith.

The most significant international crisis in recent years—Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine—has left global and western institutions scrambling to respond. What lessons do these events offer thus far for Asia? Read more »

India’s Stakes in the Middle East

by Alyssa Ayres
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) shakes hands with India's Vice President Hamid Ansari upon his arrival at the airport in New Delhi February 26, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

The Pew Research Center just released a superb infographic drawing on World Bank remittance data that makes it possible, with just a few clicks, to instantly see how remittances flow from source to recipient countries. It might not be a surprise to anyone that the United States is the number one source country, with more than $123 billion in remittances flowing to countries all over the world in 2012, the most recently available year. And it might not be a surprise, either, to learn that India is the number one recipient country, with $69 billion coming in during 2012. But how many people would guess that even though the United States is the number one source country for outflows worldwide, it isn’t the largest source of remittances going to India. That would be the United Arab Emirates (UAE). More than $15 billion was remitted to India from the UAE during 2012, compared with $11 billion from the United States. Read more »

The Limits of Speech in India

by Alyssa Ayres

India is the world’s largest democracy, with possibly the world’s largest number of political parties (six national, twenty-two regional, and 1500+ official unrecognized parties), and what must surely be the most disputatious and argumentative broadcast media. Anyone who has ever watched the myriad prime time talk shows, with six to ten guests shouting at each other (sometimes the host, too), would know what I mean. It has also been my experience over the last nearly twenty-five years traveling to and engaging with India, that people love a good argument. You can have a fierce debate over a meal, and over very serious ideas, but by the time sweets come around you’ve moved on to something else—even if you still disagree. One of the great things about India, in my view, is the wonderful acceptance of vigorous disagreement. Read more »

A Closer Look at FDI Flip-flopping in India

by Alyssa Ayres
protest against FDI in retail sector A trader with mock chains around his wrists and a gag tied around his mouth attends a protest against the Indian government's decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector in New Delhi September 27, 2012 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Last month, the new Delhi government—led by the upstart Aam Aadmi Party—sent a letter to the federal government mere days after taking office notifying it of their decision to rescind a relatively new policy allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector (department or big-box stores selling more than one brand). I wrote about this at the time, noting that a sudden flip-flop on allowing FDI would send a “confusing, conflicted signal” to potential investors. Read more »

Of Democratic Systems and Processes

by Alyssa Ayres
Rahul Gandhi Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi speaks during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in New Delhi January 17, 2014 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections.

On Monday, January 27, Indian National Congress party vice president and heir apparent Rahul Gandhi sat down for a lengthy one-on-one interview with India’s most-watched gotcha television host, Arnab Goswami (transcript here, and video here). His first in-depth interview in his nearly ten years as a member of parliament—and two years as the front face of Congress’s election campaigns—marks a new effort to make Mr. Gandhi more publicly accessible. Reportedly this is one prong of a new media strategy for Mr. Gandhi as India prepares for national elections by mid-April. Read more »

Aam Aadmi Party: Sweeping out Foreign Investment

by Alyssa Ayres
AAP- Policy reversal Arvind Kejriwal (R), leader of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, speaks during a meeting with his party leaders and media personnel after taking the oath as the new chief minister of Delhi, in New Delhi on December 28, 2013. (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters)

Monday’s news that the new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government decided to opt out of a year-old policy opening India’s “multibrand” retail sector to foreign investment will give international businesses interested in India pause. Amidst the news of a promising and hopeful rise of a political party focused on accountability and governance for the common man, many people outside of India have wondered what the AAP’s stance would be on economic policy. This is as good a preview as any—and it’s troubling. Read more »

No Winners in Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters). People look at burnt textbooks after a primary school which was supposed to be used as a polling booth was set on fire, in Feni. Nearly 60 polling stations in Bangladesh were set on fire and three people were killed on the eve of Sunday's election January 4, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters).

I’ve been an optimist about Bangladesh for some time now—its national development miracle, amazing social entrepreneurs, strong civil society and women-led microfinance, 160 million-strong brand of moderate Islam, and consistent economic growth. Just a few years ago Goldman Sachs put this hardworking, against-all-odds country on their list of Asia’s “Next 11” ready for takeoff. But after Sunday’s election—and I write this with a heavy heart—I’m deeply worried. Read more »