Clinton fills key India position in State Department

"Alyssa Ayres will start as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau of the State Department on August 30. Her portfolio will include India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives," a State Department official told PTI.

Ayres will be coming from McLarty Associates, a Washington-based international strategic advisory firm, where she has led the India and South Asia practice since 2008.
Her two decades of engagement with the South Asian region include a term as an International Affairs Fellow on the staff of former Under Secretary for Political Affairs R Nicholas Burns, during which she worked on South Asia issues, the civilian nuclear deal in particular.

She would fill up a post in the State Department that was lying vacant for 18 months.
Ayres's previous experience in the nonprofit sector also focused on South Asia: at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania; at the Asia Society in New York; and as an interpreter on mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Author of several books, her last book on nationalism, culture, and politics in Pakistan--'Speaking Like a State', was published last year.

She has also co-edited three books, including 'Power Realignments in Asia' (2009), 'India Briefing: Takeoff at Last?' and 'India Briefing: Quickening the Pace of Change'.

"India and the United States are perfectly situated for the twenty-first century world, and for different kinds of partnerships on systemic global challenges, challenges so big and borderless that they simply cannot be managed by governments alone," Ayres wrote in a paper drafted for a session of the Aspen Strategy Group's US-India Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi in January this year.

Soon after the Congress was voted back to power last year, she wrote in The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece, that the return of the Congress Party-led coalition to power in New Delhi opens the door for the Obama administration to forge a more ambitious agenda with India than either Presidents Clinton or Bush envisioned.

"But Washington must act quickly lest the moment vanishes. To take the relationship to a new level, both governments should leverage their best asset, the two countries' increasingly intertwined and innovative private sectors, to tackle complex global problems like climate change or agricultural productivity, to name just two," she wrote in her article.

"If we dream big, the impact of this two-track cooperation will be felt throughout the world," Ayres said.

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