Mira Kamdar Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Mira Kamdar  

Global Affairs Expert On India / Award-Winning Author

Born to a Gujarati father raised in Burma and India and a Danish-American mother raised on a farm in Oregon, Mira Kamdar has navigated between different localities and identities her whole life. As a four-year-old, she asked her mother: “Which way am I half? Up and down? Or sideways?” She is still trying to find the answer to this question.

Educated at Reed College, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at Berkeley, Mira Kamdar studied philosophy with Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Michel Foucault and wrote a doctoral dissertation on the politics of mimesis in Diderot under the direction of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. Unhappy teaching in America’s hinterland, she made her way to New York in the late 1980s where she began writing on current affairs and joined the World Policy Institute.

Mira Kamdar’s first book was a critically acclaimed memoir, Motiba’s Tattoos: A Granddaughter’s Journey from America into her Indian Family’s Past (Public Affairs 2000; Plume 2001). It was a 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and won the 2002 Washington Book Award.

Her second book was Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the World’s Largest Democracy and the Future of our World (Scribner 2008). The book has been translated and published in over a dozen foreign editions, including Hindi, Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French.

Mira Kamdar is a member of the Editorial Board of the International New York Times where she writes on international affairs. In addition to the New York Times, her work has appeared in publications around the world, including Slate, The Washington Post, The Times of India, Daily News & Analysis, Outlook, The International Herald Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, World Policy Journal, Tehelka, Seminar, the Far Eastern Economic Review, YaleGlobal and Le Monde Diplomatique.

Perfectly bilingual in French, she has provided expert commentary to CNN International, Bloomberg TV, the BBC, MTV Iggy, National Public Radio, TV Ontario, Public Radio International, Radio France, TV 5 Monde and FR 3. A former contributing editor to The Caravan magazine and member of the editorial board of World Policy Journal, she wrote the “Mot de l’Inde” column for Courrier International from 2009 to 2014.

In 2010 – 2011, Mira Kamdar was affiliated with the CEIAS (Centre des Etudes de l’Inde et l’Asie du Sud) at the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) as a Fulbright Senior Scholar under the auspice of the Franco-American Commission for a project on Enlightenment images of India as they contributed to the construction of European identity.

Speech Topics

America's Huge Stake in India's Success

The Other Rising Asian Economic Giant: Risk and Reward in India's Galloping Economy

Karma Commerce: Why Business As Usual Won't Work in India

How Will Asia’s Two Giants Weather the Global Financial Meltdown?

When the financial bubble was only beginning to lose a little air, common wisdom held that the emerging economies, especially those of Asian giants India and China, would weather any coming meltdown just fine. Their own domestic markets, we were told, had grown so robust, these would simply substitute for any loss in the export markets of the United States and Europe teetering on the financial brink. While it is true that India, and even more so China, are coping better than many so-called advanced economies, it is also clear now that they are hardly immune from what has grown into the most serious economic crisis the world has seen in decades. Tens of millions of Chinese and Indian workers have returned to their villages, the factories where they worked shut down, the corporate offices where they aspired to the good life pared down to a minimum. India's growth has fallen from a 2007 peak of over 9 percent to less than 7 percent. China's from a white-hot 12 percent to below 8 percent. Those lowered numbers still look pretty good from the negative-growth perspective of some of us, but they are hardly sufficient to generate the employment or the purchasing power India and China need for hundreds of millions of their people who remain stuck making a marginal living at best. How fast will India and China recover from the current global economic crisis? What will be the political fallout, both in terms of lowered expectations domestically and in terms of anger and frustration at the one country most people around the world blame for the current mess, the United States? How can we chart a course forward that restores solid and sustainable economic well being for all of us?

The Environmental Threat to India & China’s Future

Water shortages, desertification, air pollution, deforestation, food shortages and last, but not least, global warming: these environmental menaces threaten all of our future but none perhaps more than that of Asia's rising giants. Despite important differences, India and China share one enormous challenge: how to grow their economies fast enough to move hundreds of millions out of poverty without utterly destroying the environment, within their own territory and beyond. Environmental damage already poses a growing threat not just to economic growth but also to public health, as well as to political and social stability. Will India and China find a way out of this dilemma before it's too late? What is the stake for the rest of us? And what should the advanced economies of Japan, the United States and the European Union do to help tackle this conundrum that ultimately threatens us all?

Related Speakers View all

More like Mira