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Showing posts for "Alyssa Ayres"

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 »

Next Steps with India (चलें साथ साथ कहां ?)

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they have coffee and tea together in the gardens of Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25, 2015 (Jim Bourg/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they have coffee and tea together in the gardens of Hyderabad House in New Delhi on January 25, 2015 (Jim Bourg/Courtesy: Reuters).

By most estimates, President Barack Obama had a good visit to India last week. The atmosphere was spectacular—how could it not be, with India’s Republic Day parade the backdrop—and the apparent warmth between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama was visible from the big airport bear hug, chuckles over tea, and first-name informality (well, at least on Modi’s part) on a joint radio program. Read more »

Sri Lanka’s Victory for Democracy

by Alyssa Ayres
Sri Lanka's newly elected president, Mithripala Sirisena, waves at media as he leaves the election commission in Colombo on January 9, 2015 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy: Reuters). Sri Lanka's newly elected president, Mithripala Sirisena, waves at media as he leaves the election commission in Colombo on January 9, 2015 (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Courtesy: Reuters).

In a stunning upset today, Sri Lanka’s Maithripala Sirisena defeated ten-year incumbent strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena is a former member of President Rajapaksa’s cabinet who defected, with more than twenty other members of parliament, to lead an umbrella opposition coalition just two months ago. Rajapaksa conceded with the vote count still underway; at the time of his concession early on Friday morning, the election results posted showed a nearly 52 percent lead for Sirisena against almost 47 percent for Rajapaksa. Read more »

Why Can’t Bangladeshis Protest Peacefully?

by Alyssa Ayres
[STOCK PHOTO] Police officers stand guard in front of the office of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during a strike in Dhaka on October 28, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). [STOCK PHOTO] Police officers stand guard in front of the office of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during a strike in Dhaka on October 28, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Today, one year following national elections in Bangladesh, at least four people died in violence following political protests in Dhaka and other cities across the country. The proximate reason: the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) took out protests, which the ruling Awami League government had banned, to mark a “Murder of Democracy Day.” Despite the ban on protests, press reports indicate that members of the Awami League “outnumbered” the opposition on the streets of Dhaka. Read more »

The Top Ten Stories in South Asia, 2014

by Alyssa Ayres
Photo credit: Alyssa Ayres Photo credit: Alyssa Ayres

It was a busy news year in South Asia, with events that will have far-reaching consequences for the region. Between India’s historic election, a hard-won unity government in Afghanistan, and ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan combined with shocking terrorist attacks, South Asia made the front pages around the world for many different reasons. Like last year, I’ve tried to sift through the year’s developments and assess which will have lasting effects on the countries in the region and beyond. Herewith my personal selection of 2014’s most consequential stories in South Asia: Read more »

India and Bangladesh Poised to Resolve Border Dispute

by Alyssa Ayres
Female personnel of India's Border Security Force (BSF) patrol along the fencing of the India-Bangladesh international border ahead of India's Independence Day celebrations, at Dhanpur village in India's northeastern state of Tripura August 11, 2014. India commemorates its Independence Day on August 15. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey (INDIA - Tags: ANNIVERSARY MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) Female personnel of India's Border Security Force (BSF) patrol along the fencing of the India-Bangladesh international border ahead of India's Independence Day celebrations, at Dhanpur village in India's northeastern state of Tripura on August 11, 2014. (Jayanta Dey/Courtesy Reuters)

After nearly seventy years, it appears that India and Bangladesh may at last resolve their border issues, a legacy of the partition of India in 1947. Following the failed effort of the previous Indian government to ratify a Land Boundary Agreement negotiated with the government of Bangladesh, announced in 2011 but never passed by the Indian parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced his support. As I argue in the Indian Express this week, what may appear to be a local, low-profile regional development actually has significant impact for India and its role in the world. Read more »