Sign Up


Pallavi Aiyar

Pallavi Aiyar is an Indian-born, award-winning foreign correspondent and the author of several books.

The book topics she has covered are as diverse as contemporary China, air pollution and parenting in a global context. She was also the lead author of a special Lonely Planet guide to China for the Indian market.

Over the past two decades, Pallavi has been based in New Delhi, Brussels, Beijing, Jakarta, Tokyo and Madrid. She has reported on Europe, China, Japan, Indonesia and India for a number of Indian and international publications, including as a correspondent for The Hindu and The Business Standard.

Pallavi’s special interest lies in examining the global political economy from the perspective of emerging economies and within a comparative framework. In that context, she pays especially close attention to the social and governance dimensions.

Her debut book, “Smoke and Mirrors”, examines the differential political and social systems in China and India. Her forthcoming book on Japan, “Orienting”, analyzes the underlying cultural and aesthetic values that underpin Japan, while triangulating her conclusions with comparisons to India and China. She has also written extensively on global culture, including feature articles in top international publications like The New York Times.

Pallavi started out her journalistic career as an on-camera reporter for NDTV, India’s premier news channel. She was The Hindu’s China Bureau Chief between 2005 and 2009, after which she moved to Brussels, where she served as the Europe correspondent for India’s Business Standard (2009-2012). She has since been a columnist for The Hindu with a focus on first on Indonesia (2013-15) and then on Japan (2016-2020).

Her book on contemporary Europe’s crises, “Punjabi Parmesan: Dispatches from a Europe in Crisis”, was published in the United States as “New Old World: An Indian Journalist Discovers the Changing Face of Europe”. It was selected as “one of the best books on Europe in 2016”, by Foreign Affairs magazine.

Pallavi’s 2008 China memoir, “Smoke and Mirrors”, won the Vodafone-Crossword Popular award. Her 2011 novel, “Chinese Whiskers: The Adventures of Soyabean and Tofu”, a modern fable set in Beijing, was published in the United States, Italy, Belgium and India.

Her most recent books are an anthology of prose and poetry, “A Thousand Cranes for India: Reclaiming Plurality Amid Hatred”, and “Jakarta Tails: The Continuing Adventures of Soyabean and Tofu”.

Other books include “Babies and Bylines: Parenting on the Move”, which explored parenting in a geographically fluid, multicultural environment. Her book “Choked” provided an in-depth look at the air pollution-crisis in New Delhi and Beijing.

Pallavi is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She was also a member of the Forum’s Global Future Council on Information, Media and Entertainment between 2016 and 2018.

Pallavi was awarded the 2007 Prem Bhatia memorial prize for excellence in political reporting for her dispatches from China. Between 2004-2009, she served as advisor to the Confederation of Indian Industry on China-related issues. In 2010, she was recognized by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao for her work in furthering Sino-Indian relations.

Pallavi has presented her works at literary festivals, universities, think tanks and foundations around the world including at the Berlin, Jaipur, Mumbai, Bangalore, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Ubud literary festivals, the German Marshall Fund India Forum, the annual conference of the Association of Asian Studies, The Asia Society in New York and Mumbai, Columbia University, and The New School in New York and The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

She publishes a weekly newsletter on global culture at:

Pallavi has an MSc from the London School of Economics in Global Media and Communications. She was awarded the Robert McKenzie scholarship for the best Master’s dissertation from her year (2002) across disciplines at the LSE, on the role of mobile phones in altering the perceptions of space and time of their users.

In addition, she received a first-class M.A. (Oxon) in Modern History from Oxford University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College. She also was a Reuters Fellow at Oxford University in 2007.

She is currently based in Madrid, Spain.

Articles by Pallavi Aiyar

On the Transgressions of Identity

Who am I? At heart, I suppose, I am a crane.

January 23, 2022

Catching Religion at the Sagrada Familia

The confessions of an atheist.

January 8, 2022

Why We Travel

Two age-old questions: What is travel? And why do we do it?

December 25, 2021

Asian Nations and Their Languages

Three large Asian nations -- China, India and Indonesia -- are polyphonic and geographically diverse. They all made different choices on their national language.

October 15, 2021

Why I’d Rather Be A Japanese Woman Than A Japanese Man

How Japan’s culture of overwork and lack of personal space makes life even more difficult for men than women.

September 9, 2021

Lunch in Spain

Explaining one of the world’s most unique culinary traditions.

August 2, 2021

Contemplating Culture Wars: From the Alhambra to India

Every country I have lived in has had a history of culture wars, but at the same time also a history of cultural cross-fertilization.

July 26, 2021

Japan: To Mask or Not to Mask?

Japan’s long history of mask-wearing may be the global future.

June 12, 2021

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”

Reflections on the futility of food nationalism.

June 5, 2021

India/Japan: The Jugaad-Shokunin Dichotomy

Why the Japan-India relationship refuses to take off.

May 28, 2021

India: The Europe of Asia

Despite a similarity in temperament, Europe and India struggle to enhance their partnership. Why?

May 19, 2021

Nomadland: A “Chinese” Western

This year’s big Oscar-winner indicates that the U.S. and China are two sides of the same coin.

May 9, 2021

What’s in a Name? Or Polly’s Story

A real-life guide to the befuddling world of Chinese naming conventions.

May 2, 2021

COVID and Mr. Modi’s Beard

Beards can be acts of masculine messaging. Narendra Modi is using his beard for identity politics.

April 27, 2021

Meet Pallavi Aiyar

A lifelong globalist and globe-trotting journalist joins The Globalist as Deputy Editor-in-Chief and lays out her vision.

April 11, 2021

The Moment When Japan Explodes, Each Year

Reflections on Japan, a culture driven by hyper-accuracy and anticipatory nostalgia, and its obsession with the cherry blossom season.

April 8, 2021

Choked — Delhi’s Pollution Crisis

Unpacking the commonly used term "air pollution," what it really means and the associated health risks.

December 27, 2016

Babies and Bylines in a Globalized World

What is identity for children raised globally, by international couples?

June 12, 2016

Modi and Jokowi: Why the World Should Take Notice

Comparing the leaders of the world’s largest and third-largest democracies.

October 18, 2014

Why Europe Leaves Me Puzzled

Reflections of a foreign correspondent from Asia upon leaving her post in Brussels.

May 18, 2014

India as an Inspiration for Europe?

What can India teach the EU regarding the key challenges it faces?

May 18, 2014

The Rushdie Affair: India, Europe and Multiculturalism

Is Europe doing any better than India in balancing religious belief and the secular right of free speech?

February 11, 2012