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CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Talking Trade With India

by Alyssa Ayres
delhi-shopkeeper A shopkeeper speaks on his mobile phone in front of his shop selling iron pipes in the old quarters of Delhi on November 12, 2014 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy: Reuters).

It’s been a good month for trade talks with India. On November 14, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that a four-month impasse with India concerning food security and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Bali trade facilitation agreement had been broken. A U.S.-India “agreement on trade faciliation” should at last allow the WTO Bali package to advance. It’s most welcome news, especially since India’s refusal to ratify the Bali agreement back in July had resulted in an existential crisis for the WTO. As Froman stated in his speech to Indian industry,  “Some have suggested that the India-U.S. breakthroughs—in Bali and again two weeks ago—may well have saved the multilateral trading system.” Read more »

India and U.S. Higher Education: Strong Indian Presence in the United States, but Americans Studying in India Still Meager

by Alyssa Ayres
Second EducationUSA Fair, Kolkata 2014. Photo by Biswarup Ganguly licensed under CC BY 3.0 / Cropped from original. Second EducationUSA Fair, Kolkata 2014. Photo by Biswarup Ganguly licensed under CC BY 3.0 / Cropped from original.

This week the Institute for International Education (IIE) released the latest survey data on foreign students, study abroad, and U.S. higher education. The survey, Open Doors, comes out annually and draws on data collected from around three thousand U.S. colleges and universities. Indian students are a strong presence on U.S. campuses, contributing an estimated $3.3 billion to the U.S. economy as IIE reports, using U.S. Department of Commerce data. This year, the number of Indian students in the United States surpassed the 100,000 mark, ticking up to 102,673, keeping India the number two country of origin for foreign students in the United States. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 14, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations' leaders and spouses pose for a family photo in Beijing November 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) nations' leaders and spouses pose for a family photo in Beijing on November 10, 2014. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Obama and Xi strike deals at APEC summit. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum proved remarkably productive for U.S.-China relations this week. U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced commitments to cut carbon emissions, and agreed to a reduction in tariffs on a range of technology products, to greater communication between their militaries in the Pacific, and to extend the duration of visas. Though these agreements are certainly a welcome change from years of stagnating relations, underlying issues still remain. China and the United States have fundamentally different visions of Asia’s security and trade architecture that are not easily reconciled. Read more »

India’s Brinkmanship at WTO Hurts It at APEC

by Alyssa Ayres
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks on the red carpet during China's President Xi Jinping's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi on September 18, 2014. Prime Minister Modi turned down an invitation from Xi to attend this month's APEC meeting in Beijing. (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood) India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks on the red carpet during China's President Xi Jinping's ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi on September 18, 2014. Prime Minister Modi turned down an invitation from Xi to attend this month's APEC meeting in Beijing. (Courtesy Reuters/Ahmad Masood)

The annual APEC summit is underway in Beijing. Perhaps the most notable absentee is India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who received an unprecedented invitation in July from Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the gathering. Despite growing to become the world’s third largest economy in PPP terms, India is not a member of APEC, and as a result would not normally attend the summit. But this year President Xi used his platform as the summit host to extend invitations to non-members India, Pakistan, and Mongolia. While Pakistan and Mongolia’s leaders made the trip to Beijing for APEC, Prime Minister Modi decided not to do so. It’s a missed opportunity for India’s economic diplomacy at a time it could use a boost. Read more »

What a Republican-Controlled Senate Means for India

by Alyssa Ayres
The dome of the U.S Capitol is seen behind autumn leaves in Washington on November 5, 2014. Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent to seize control of the Senate, dealing a punishing blow to President Barack Obama that will limit his legislative agenda for his last two years in office (Kevin LaMarque/Courtesy: Reuters). The dome of the U.S Capitol is seen behind autumn leaves in Washington on November 5, 2014. Republicans rode a wave of voter discontent to seize control of the Senate, dealing a punishing blow to President Barack Obama that will limit his legislative agenda for his last two years in office (Kevin LaMarque/Courtesy: Reuters).

With the midterm elections in the United States decisively giving the Republican Party control of the Senate, and a stronger showing in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, speculation in Washington now centers on what a Republican Congress means for policy. In The Water’s Edge, CFR’s James M. Lindsay argues that Republican control will change foreign policy, but less than many might think. In Foreign Policy, Bruce E. Stokes argues that a more aggressive foreign policy might be on the offing. In the Financial Times, Shawn Donnan reports that Republicans have already offered up trade as an area for cooperation with the White House. So what does Republican control of Congress suggest for India and the U.S.-India relationship? I’ll focus on the Senate here since leadership transitions will take place in January for every committee. Read more »

Bangladesh: Capitalist Haven

by Alyssa Ayres
Dhaka, April 2014. Photo by Sharada Prasad CS licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original. Dhaka, April 2014. Photo by Sharada Prasad CS licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center released the second of two major reports detailing findings from a global public opinion survey on economic issues conducted last spring in forty-four countries. Read together, the two reports reveal something you might not have guessed: Bangladesh is among the countries most supportive of the free market, and certainly the most free-market, trade-oriented country surveyed in South Asia. At least as far as public opinion is concerned, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a capitalist haven. Read more »

South Asia’s Peace Heroes

by Alyssa Ayres
Combination picture of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners, Indian children's right activist, Kailash Satyarthi, (L) at his office in New Delhi on October 10, 2014, and Pakistani schoolgirl activist, Malala Yousafzai, at the United Nations in the Manhattan borough of New York in a file picture taken on August 18, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). Combination picture of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners, Indian children's right activist, Kailash Satyarthi, (L) at his office in New Delhi on October 10, 2014, and Pakistani schoolgirl activist, Malala Yousafzai, at the United Nations in the Manhattan borough of New York in a file picture taken on August 18, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

What a day for South Asia. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s Peace Prize to Pakistan’s Malala Yousufzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi, both passionate advocates for children’s rights. The Nobel Committee’s decisions highlight a focus on the role of social advocacy and social impact on poverty, children’s education, and empowerment of women and girls in South Asia. Malala Yousufzai is recognized around the world for standing up to the Taliban, who shot her in the face for her outspoken support of girls’ education; Kailash Satyarthi is known in India for his decades-long dedication to ending child labor. Read more »

Modi’s Tale of Two Visits: Drama in One, Pragmatism and Continuity in the Other

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he hosts a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on September 30, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama smiles as he hosts a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on September 30, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

The five-day U.S. visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded earlier this week. He is already back in India, busy launching a new “Clean India” campaign complete with before-and-after photos on Twitter. Mr. Modi’s New York program was extensively covered by the media, U.S. as well as Indian. The high-profile nature of his appearances at Madison Square Garden, the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, and his UN and Council on Foreign Relations addresses showcased an Indian prime minister in demand at the policy podium as well as alongside celebrities like Hugh Jackman, speaking to his homeland as well as to a global audience. One U.S. congressman, Pete Sessions even said that Modi “will become the next Ronald Reagan for the world.” Jon Stewart’s Daily Show picked up this quote, and more, in a special segment titled, “America’s Next Top Modi.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 3, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Protesters sit under umbrellas at a main street at Mongkok shopping district after thousand of protesters blocked the road in Hong Kong on October 1, 2014. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters sit under umbrellas at a main street at Mongkok shopping district after thousand of protesters blocked the road in Hong Kong on October 1, 2014. (Tyrone Siu/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Pro-democracy protests continue in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protests have engulfed Hong Kong over the past week, focusing on China’s announcement that candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s leader will be selected by a pro-Beijing committee. In addition to the right to freely elect the city’s next leader, the demonstrators are demanding the removal of Hong Kong’s current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, widely seen as Beijing’s lackey. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 26, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Students in Chennai pose with banners featuring Mars and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists as they celebrate India's Mars orbiter successfully entering the red planet's orbit on September 24, 2014 (Babu/Courtesy: Reuters). Students in Chennai pose with banners featuring Mars and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) scientists as they celebrate India's Mars orbiter successfully entering the red planet's orbit on September 24, 2014 (Babu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. India becomes the first Asian nation to reach Mars. India’s space program celebrated a huge victory this week, successfully launching an orbiter to Mars on its first attempt. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) managed to send the Mars Orbitor Mission, affectionately nicknamed MOM, on a budget of  $74 million; many have been quick to point out that it cost less than the production of the Hollywood hit movie, Gravity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a celebration of the mission’s success, and schools in India organized programs to commemorate the entry of MOM into Mars’s orbit. The first images of the red planet were uploaded to Twitter, sparking a Twitter conversation between Modi and ISRO’s orbiter. Read more »