Special Panel: Asia Matters Podcast: South Asia’s Dual Crisis: Covid-19 and Climate Change

South Asia has become one of the worst-hit parts of the world by COVID-19, with the pandemic causing particular harm among society's poorest. In April, The World Bank forecast the region is likely to record their worst growth performance in four decades this year due to the health crisis.

Its struggle against the virus has come just as the world's most densely-populated region is also facing a deepening climate crisis – now home to some of the world's most polluted cities.

In this panel, we will discuss whether governments in South Asia are capable of confronting these major challenges while preserving economic and social cohesion.

Asia Matters (Twitter: @AsiaMattersPod) is a London-based podcast that goes beyond the headlines with experts from around the globe to help explain what's really going on in Asia today.


Yuka Kobayashi, SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Ashoka University, India
Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Yale University, United States
Andrew Peaple, Asia Matters podcast, United Kingdom
Vincent Ni, Asia Matters Podcast, UK
Yamini Aiyar, Centre for Policy Research, India

Yuki Kobayashi

SOAS, University of London, UK

Yuki KobayashiYuka Kobayashi (LLB Kyoto, MPhil, DPhil Oxon) is Lecturer/Assistant Professor in China and International Politics at SOAS, University of London, and Visiting Research Professor at Nankai University (China) and Visiting Scholar at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Prior to joining SOAS, she was a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. After receiving an LLB (specialisation in Public International Law) from Kyoto University, she studied Mandarin and Chinese International Politics at Nankai University and then obtained her MPhil and DPhil at the University of Oxford. Her research interests include International Relations of China, International Law, Trade and Investment (Belt and Road Initiative/WTO/FDI), Human Rights and Climate Change/Energy. She has advised various governments, think-tanks and international organisations on these subjects.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Ashoka University, India

Pratap Bhanu MehtaPratap Bhanu Mehta is a Professor at Ashoka University, India. He was previously Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University, and President at the Center for Policy Research, Delhi. He has previously taught at Harvard, JNU and NYU Law School. He has published widely in political theory, constitutional law and Indian politics. He is (most recently) co-editor, with Madhav Khosla and Sujit Choudhary of The Oxford Handbook to the Indian Constitution. His policy experience includes being Member, Convenor of the Prime Minister of India's Knowledge Commission. He was a member of the National Security Advisory Board. He is also editorial consultant to the Indian Express. He is a prolific contributor to public debates. His column appears in the Indian Express. He is a winner of the Infosys Prize 2011.

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale University, USA

Ahmed Mushfiq MobarakAhmed Mushfiq Mobarak is a Professor of Economics at Yale University with concurrent appointments in the School of Management and in the Department of Economics. Mobarak is the founder and faculty director of the Yale Research Initiative on Innovation and Scale (Y-RISE). He holds other appointments at Innovations for Poverty Action, the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT, the International Growth Centre (IGC) at LSE. Mobarak has several ongoing research projects in Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Kenya, Malawi and Sierra Leone. He conducts field experiments exploring ways to induce people in developing countries to adopt technologies or behaviors that are likely to be welfare improving. He also examines the complexities of scaling up development interventions that are proven effective in such trials. For example, he is scaling and testing strategies to address seasonal poverty using migration subsidies or consumption loans in Bangladesh, Nepal and Indonesia. His research has been published in journals across disciplines, including Econometrica, Science, The Review of Economic Studies, the American Political Science Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Demography, and covered by the New York Times, The Economist, Science, NPR, BBC, Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, and other media outlets around the world. He received a Carnegie Fellowship in 2017.

Andrew Peaple

Asia Matters podcast, UK

Andrew Peaple is a presenter of the Asia Matters podcast and formerly The Wall Street Journal’s Heard on the Street Editor in Asia. He is an experienced financial journalist who has been based in Hong Kong since early 2015. Previously Andrew was Europe resources editor in London, overseeing coverage of Europe's major resource companies from BP to Glencore, and OPEC. Prior to that Andrew was deputy editor of Heard on the Street in London, where he wrote and edited columns about corporate and economic issues in Europe. Before moving back to London, Andrew wrote the Heard column from the WSJ’s Beijing bureau. Andrew also covered the UK economy from 2004 to late 2007 from London, specialising in reporting on the UK Treasury. Andrew first joined Dow Jones in 2003, covering the UK financial services sector. He has also written articles on dining out in Mongolia and art deco architecture in New Zealand for the WSJ Weekend section. Andrew now appears as a commentator on both WSJ’s own videos and other media, including Sky News and BBC Radio. Before becoming a journalist, Andrew worked for PwC, becoming a UK-qualified chartered accountant in late 1999 prior to working with PwC in Tokyo until early 2001. He also spent a year working with PCA Asset in Japan, part of the Prudential PLC group. He has a BA degree in Modern History from Oxford University. He also has a Diploma in Economics from the University of London. Andrew speaks good Japanese, French and Mandarin Chinese.

Vincent Ni

Asia Matters Podcast, UK

Vincent Ni is the co-founder of Asia Matters podcast. He is also a Senior Journalist at the BBC in London. Over the past decade, he has reported from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. He regularly appears on the BBC’s domestic and international TV, radio and online platforms, providing analysis mainly on China’s foreign policies to the broadcaster’s global audience. He has also worked on Newsnight and Newshour, the BBC’s flagship current affairs programmes on TV and radio respectively, and has been a speaker at international forums such as Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Asia Society and Columbia University in New York. Prior to the BBC, he was a correspondent for Caixin Media, tracking China’s global footprint in the Middle East, Europe and North America. Born and raised in Shanghai, Vincent is a graduate of the University of Oxford. In 2018 he was selected as one of the 16 Greenberg World Fellows, a highly-competitive mid-career leadership development programme at Yale University.

Yamini Aiyar

Centre for Policy Research, India

Yamini Aiyar is the President and Chief Executive of Centre for Policy Research (CPR). Her research interests are in the field of social policy and development. In 2008, Yamini founded the Accountability Initiative at CPR. Under her leadership, the Accountability Initiative has produced significant research in the areas of governance, state capacity and social policy. It pioneered a new approach to tracking public expenditures for social policy programs and is widely recognised for running the country’s largest expenditure-tracking survey in elementary education. Yamini’s own research on social accountability, elementary education, decentralisation and administrative reforms has received both academic and popular recognition.

Yamini Aiyar is a TED fellow and a founding member of the International Experts Panel of the Open Government Partnership. She has also been a member of the World Economic Forum’s global council on good governance. Previously, she has worked with the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program and Rural Development unit in Delhi, where she focused on action research aimed at strengthening mechanisms for citizen engagement in local government. Additionally, she was a member of the decentralisation team at the World Bank that provided policy support to strengthen Panchayati Raj (local governance) in India.

Aiyar is an Alumna of the London School of Economics, St. Edmund's college Cambridge University, and St Stephen’s College, Delhi University.

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