Alyssa Ayres is senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. She served most recently as deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia during 2010–2013, covering all issues across a dynamic region of 1.3 billion people (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan), and providing policy direction and support for four U.S. embassies and four consulates. Trained originally as a cultural historian, she has experience in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors, and has carried out research on both India and Pakistan.
Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Ayres led the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates, the Washington-based international strategic advisory firm, from 2008–2010. She joined the firm after serving in the U.S. Department of State as special assistant to the undersecretary for political affairs as a Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow. Prior to that she worked in the nonprofit sector at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania, and at the Asia Society in New York.
Her book on nationalism, culture, and politics in Pakistan, Speaking Like a State, was published worldwide by Cambridge University Press in 2009, and received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies book prize for 2011–2012. She has coedited three books on India and Indian foreign policy: Power Realignments in Asia (Sage, 2009), India Briefing: Takeoff at Last? and India Briefing: Quickening the Pace of Change (ME Sharpe, 2002 and 2005). She blogs regularly at CFR's Asia Unbound, and is a Forbes contributor.
Ayres has been awarded numerous fellowships, and has received four group or individual Superior Honor Awards for work at the State Department. She speaks fluent Hindi and Urdu, and in the mid–1990s worked as an interpreter for the International Committee of the Red Cross. She received an AB magna cum laude from Harvard College, and an MA and PhD from the University of Chicago, where her dissertation was defended with distinction. She is a former term member, and has been a life member of CFR since 2010.
Asked by Najibullah Adamji, from Mithibai College, Mumbai University
Historically, India's foreign policy has not oscillated on a partisan basis, exemplifying the American adage: politics stops at the water's edge. This doesn't mean politics has no effect on foreign policy in India; it is, however, more attenuated with powers farther away, and amplified with smaller neighbors.
Bangladesh is a critically important neighbor for India, and one with great impact on India—both positive and potentially negative. On the positive side, Bangladesh is a country of approximately 160 million people making great progress on human development, with an economy consistently growing between five and six percent, and with ambitions to reach lower-middle income levels by 2021.
Alyssa Ayres examines Pakistan's troubled history by exploring the importance of culture to political legitimacy. By comparing Pakistan's experience with those of India and Indonesia, Ayres analyzes how their national language policies led to very different outcomes. The lessons of these large multiethnic states offer insights for the understanding of culture, identity, and nationalism throughout the world.
Modi's past, coupled with concerns among the Indian and global human rights community, presents challenges for U.S. engagement. But the U.S. relationship with India is too important to allow drift to set in. Washington should meet Modi on pragmatic ground, and reframe the relationship in practical terms of mutually beneficial cooperation.
An Asia Society Task Force directed by Alyssa Ayres outlines a bold new strategy for the incoming U.S. administration to pursue deeper collaboration with India on global challenges ranging from security and economic growth to climate change, education, agricultural needs, and HIV/AIDS.
Director: Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia October 15, 2013—Present
The U.S. Relations with South Asia Roundtable Series is an ongoing series that provides a forum for leading U.S. and South Asia experts to analyze domestic and foreign policy in the region, with a focus on business and economic issues.
General Meeting ⁄ New York
The New Indian Government
Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations, Jagdish N. Bhagwati, Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, Robert D. Blackwill, Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Charles Robert Kaye, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Warburg Pincus LLC
May 28, 201412:30-1:00 p.m. - Lunch 1:00-2:00 p.m. - Meeting
Salman Haidar, Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace, Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Michael Krepon, President Emeritus, The Henry L. Stimson Center
Alyssa Ayres, Deputy Director, Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania
Alyssa Ayres's Policy Innovation Memorandum arguing that the United States should support India's membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperaton (APEC) forum is cited in the Times of India following Chinese president Xi Jinping's invitation to India's prime minister Modi to attend the next APEC meeting.
After Chinese president Xi Jinping extended an invitation to Indian prime minister Modi to attend the next Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, Alyssa Ayres's Policy Innovation Memorandum arguing that the United States should support India's membership in APEC is cited by Reuters.
In a piece highlighting the U.S. reaction to the Indian election results in the Hindustan Times, Alyssa Ayres says that the United States should focus on Narendra Modi's top campaign issue--trade and economics--rather than his past.
Alyssa Ayres moderates a Google Hangout discussion on the likely foreign and economic priorities of the next Indian government. Panelists include Indrani Bagchi, senior diplomatic editor of the Times of India; Manjeet Kripalani, founder and executive director of Gateway House; and Radha Kumar, director-general of the Delhi Policy Group.
Alyssa Ayres serves as a panelist in an event convened by Asia Society in New York alongside the former prime minister of Pakistan, China's ambassador to the U.S., senior vice president for Asian and Japan chair at CSIS, Singapore's ambassador to the U.S., and the CEO for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Americas at Standard Chartered. The panel discussion was part of a half-day forum marking the formal launch of the Asia Society Policy Institute.
More than 800 million Indians are expected to cast their vote in a phased general election that many polls predict will significantly reshape the country's parliament. There are three things to know about the largest exercise of democracy in world history, says Alyssa Ayres.
Ahead of the Ananta Aspen Centre's "Growth Net" international forum, Alyssa Ayres previews her thoughts on the role of government in India and U.S.-India collaboration in a pre-conference interview with Ping Network.
CFR's Alyssa Ayres appears on the Wall Street Journal Live "OpinionJournal" to explain the limits of free speech in India after Penguin India decided to withdraw from the market Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History.
In the Wall Street Journal, Alyssa Ayres comments on the U.S. decision to establish contact with Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for prime minister, and the Indian court decision not to prosecute Modi due to insufficient evidence of his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat communal riots.