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Five Questions for Professor Jagdish Bhagwati on the Indian Economy and Prime Minister Modi’s Next Steps

by Alyssa Ayres
Jagdish Bhagwati Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University, is also a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (photo provided by Professor Bhagwati).

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

Jagdish Bhagwati, university professor at Columbia University and senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been described as the most creative international trade theorist of his generation. He has been a leader in the fight for freer trade for decades. He is well-known in India as a champion of economic liberalization—and an early advocate for the reforms undertaken in 1991. With his coauthor Arvind Panagariya, he published Why Growth Matters last year, a book which makes the case for economic growth as the path to inclusive poverty alleviation. He is proudly Gujarati, and is likely to be an external adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 16, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate on March 16, 2014, after learning of poll results showing Narendra Modi of the BJP as the next leader of the world’s largest democracy (Amit Dave/Courtesy Reuters).

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

1. And the results are in: A Modi mandate in India! The five-week marathon of elections is complete in India, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged victorious, winning the party’s highest-ever tally of seats in parliament. No single party has captured the number of seats needed to form a government—272—on its own in thirty years, making this election particularly significant in Indian politics. Despite his controversial past, Narendra Modi will lead the new Indian government and will be expected to deliver on his campaign promises of economic growth and good governance. The Congress party—which has been in power for the past decade and promoted Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for prime minister—has conceded its defeat, remarking “Modi promised the moon and stars to the people. People bought that dream.” Read more »

Five Slots to Watch in the New Indian Government

by Alyssa Ayres
Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from BJP's Gujarat State President R.C. Faldu upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). Narendra Modi (L), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), receives a bouquet of flowers from the BJP's Gujarat state president, R.C. Faldu, upon his arrival to meet party leaders and workers at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on May 13, 2014 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

India’s Election Commission will begin counting the nearly 550 million ballots cast across the country’s 930,000 polling stations at 8:00 a.m. Indian Standard Time. Results should be available by 5:00 p.m., or 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time in the United States. The exit polls released on May 12 have uniformly indicated a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, either handsomely (News 24 Chanakya’s poll, predicting 340 seats for the National Democratic Alliance) or hovering just around the 272 halfway mark, making government formation a relatively straightforward process. Barring some surprise in the results—which of course has precedent with the 2004 election polls—Indian citizens will likely elect a stable BJP-led government with sufficient political space to make relying on a diverse array of parties with differing ideological views unnecessary. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 9, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. Thai police fired tear gas on Friday at royalist protesters bent on bringing down a caretaker government after a court threw Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office and an anti-graft agency indicted her for negligence (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy: Reuters). Anti-government protesters wait for their leader Suthep Thaugsuban to come out from the parliament building to address them in Bangkok on May 9, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Thai prime minister removed from office, faces impeachmentThailand’s constitutional court voted to remove Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power for illegally transferring a civil servant to another post. The court also removed the nine ministers that were in her cabinet at the time. Yingluck now faces impeachment by the Thai senate, in conjunction with alleged connection to a farm subsidy program. Deputy Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan was named interim prime minister of the caretaker government, a choice that satisfied neither supporters nor the opponents of Yingluck and the ruling Puea Thai Party. Protestors, both anti-government and pro-government, continue to be active following Yingluck’s removal, and there appears to be no clear way forward. Thailand’s democracy has faced a rocky path the past few months, and some fear that elections planned for late July will be postponed. Read more »

The Foreign Policy Inbox of the Next Indian (a Modi?) Government

by Alyssa Ayres
File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters). File photo: Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat's chief minister, speaks during the "Vibrant Gujarat Summit" at Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat on January 12, 2013 (Amit Dave/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

I had the opportunity yesterday to speak with three of India’s leading foreign policy experts on what the next Indian government’s foreign policy inbox would contain. Given that the latest opinion polls overwhelmingly favor the Bharatiya Janata Party, our panel focused on the likely policy priorities of a Narendra Modi-led government. Our half hour Google Hangout, now viewable on CFR’s YouTube channel, featured the Times of India’s senior diplomatic editor, Indrani Bagchi; Gateway House’s founder and executive director, Manjeet Kripalani; and the Delhi Policy Group’s director general, Dr. Radha Kumar. Each highlighted a series of priorities a Modi government would likely pursue. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of May 2, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters) Armed policemen patrol near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in Wednesday's bomb and knife attack, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 2, 2014. (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

1. Attack in Xinjiang kills three and injures seventy-nine. A blast in the provincial capital of Urumqi, in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, killed two bombers and a third bystander at a train station on Wednesday. According to Chinese state media, “knife-wielding mobs” attacked people at one of the station’s exits following the blasts. Chinese authorities claimed to have identified the assailants as Muslim religious extremists, fighting for independence from China. Urumqi is no stranger to violent ethnic strife and is a heavily policed city. The attacks follow similar incidents in the past year: in March, ten assailants, allegedly Uighur separatists, killed twenty-nine commuters at a train station in Kunming, Yunnan province; and in October 2013, three Uighurs drove a car through Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing themselves and two tourists. Chinese president Xi Jinping has declared long-term stability in Xinjiang vital to national security and has made promoting “ethnic cohesion” one of his major initiatives in the region. Read more »

Thanks, John Oliver! Why India Isn’t a Big Focus for U.S. Television

by Alyssa Ayres
Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the seventh phase of India's general election in Rangareddy district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on April 30, 2014 (Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy: Reuters). Voters line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the seventh phase of India's general election in Rangareddy district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on April 30, 2014 (Danish Siddiqui/Courtesy: Reuters).

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

In the grand tradition of Jon Stewart, the British comedian John Oliver has skewered American television’s priorities in his new show, Last Week Tonight. His acerbic eight minute bit on the Indian elections—elections historic in scale, with an electorate of 815 million voters and big issues at stake—gets many things right, most importantly, U.S. television’s focus everywhere else. (And even, hilariously, the sad fact of a Fox News segment last week covering not, say, the April 17 fifth phase of India’s elections in which 195 million people went to vote, but instead a ludicrous feature about a leopard on the loose causing panic in India). Read more »

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

by Alyssa Ayres
BJP manifesto Narendra Modi (2nd R), the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, addresses a gathering after releasing their election manifesto in New Delhi on April 7, 2014 (Anindito Mukherjee/Courtesy Reuters).

This post is part of a series on the Indian elections

Earlier today, on the first day of India’s five-week-long national elections, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at last released their 2014 campaign manifesto. With the ruling Congress Party having released theirs on March 26, and the drumbeat of poll results showing the BJP with a commanding lead on the eve of elections, the platform’s absence had become the subject of much speculation. Read more »

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 »