Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, joined us for an IDFC-U roundtable on "A Year Of Modi: India’s Global Ambitions”. During this off-the-record exchange, the group considered aspects including what it meant for India to be more confident about its role in the world, whether India would promote new ideals of democracy, and how India’s aspirations to be a “leading” power, rather than a “balancing” power, would play out.
It was observed that many of the previous UPA government’s foreign policies were similar to those of the current NDA government’s, but Modi had been more successful in implementing them, especially in Bangladesh. Both the economic and security benefits of the Land Boundary Agreement being worked on with Bangladesh were noted. The opposition Congress party’s refrain from disrupting progress on the Bangladesh relationship was lauded.
Modi’s policies were also perceived as being pragmatic and geared towards driving domestic economic development. Many thought Modi had fared well on foreign policy, though tax issues faced by foreign companies marred efforts to improve ease of doing business in India. It was observed that the US would want to reach a point of convergence with India on clean energy and climate change.
The difficulties of the US-Pakistan relationship were recognised, and the bureaucratic structure in the US State Department, wherein different offices manage relationships with different countries in the region, was seen as an impediment.
Alyssa Ayres is senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At CFR her work focuses on India’s role in the world and on U.S. relations with South Asia. Originally trained as a cultural historian, Ayres has experience in the nonprofit, government, and private sectors, and she has carried out research on both India and Pakistan.
She directs the U.S. Relations with South Asia Roundtable series, blogs regularly for Asia Unbound, and is a contributor to Forbes.com. Her book about India’s rise on the world stage, Our Time Has Come: How India is Making Its Place in the World, will be published by Oxford University Press in January 2018. Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Ayres was founding director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates, the Washington-based international strategic advisory firm, from 2008 to 2010.