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South Asia's Vulnerable Side: Where Economic Growth Outpaces Human Progress - 2010 Shorenstein Journalism Award

  • Barbara Crossette

While most Asian economies rode out the recession fairly well, disturbing human development statistics across the region persist. Rapidly increasing wealth is not being shared, and women and minority populations are often the most at risk of falling behind, especially in South Asia.

Barbara Crossette, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times, is the author of several books on Asia, including So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1995 and in paperback by Random House.

Vintage Destinations in 1996, and a collection of travel essays about colonial resort towns that are still attracting visitors more than a century after their creation, The Great Hill Stations of Asia, published by Westview Press in 1998 and in paperback by Basic Books in 1999. In 2000, she wrote a survey of India and Indian-American relations, India: Old Civilization in a New World, for the Foreign Policy Association in New York. She is also the author of India Facing the 21st Century, published by Indiana University Press in 1993.

The Great Hill Stations of Asia was a New York Times notable book of the year in 1998. Conde Nast Traveler named it a Book of the Month.

Ms. Crossette is now United Nations correspondent for The Nation and a freelance writer on foreign policy and international affairs. Most recently she was a co-author with George Perkovich of a section on India in the 2009 book Powers and Principles: International Leadership in a Shrinking World. Her articles and essays have appeared periodically in World Policy Journal, published at the New School University in New York. Among her recent articles for the Journal are "Southeast Asia: A Reckoning Looms" [Fall 2006], on recent stumbles in a region that was once a shining model for the developing world; "Who Killed Zia? [Fall 2005], examining the continuing mystery of the death of a former Pakistani president and why the US keeps the records secret; "Hurting the World's Poor in Morality's Name" [Winter 2005], a look at the damaging Bush legacy in global social policies; "India's Sikhs: Waiting for Justice" [Summer 2004], an account of how and why politicians evade responsibility for massacres of minority groups; "What the Poets Thought: Antiwar Sentiment in North Vietnam" [Spring 2003], exclusive interviews with dissident writers who were repressed and imprisoned during the 'American' war; "Sri Lanka: In the Shadow of the Indian Elephant" [Spring 2002], an analysis of terrorism in Sri Lanka and its challenge to both Indian and, lately, American policymakers, and "Killing One's Progeny: America and the United Nations" [Fall 2002].

"Will John Bolton Ruin the UN?" an article published in Foreign Policy, in the July/August 2006, presaged the campaign that led to the resignation of the ambassador.

Ms. Crossette was The New York Times bureau chief at the United Nations from 1994 to 2001. She was earlier a Times chief correspondent in Southeast Asia and South Asia and a diplomatic reporter in Washington. She has also reported from Central America, the Caribbean and Canada, and been deputy foreign editor and senior editor in charge of the Times’ weekend news operations. Before joining newspaper paper in 1973, Ms. Crossette worked for The Evening and Sunday Bulletin in Philadelphia and The Birmingham Post in Birmingham, England.

In 1991, Ms. Crossette won the George Polk Award for foreign reporting for her coverage of the assassination in India of a former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. In 1998, she won the 25-year achievement award of The Silurians, a society of New York journalists, and the award for international reporting from InterAction, a coalition of more than 150 international nonprofit aid and development organizations. In 1999, she received the Business Council of the United Nations’ Korn Ferry Award for outstanding reporting on the organization, and in 2003 the United Nations Correspondents’ Association’s lifetime achievement award.

In 2008, Ms. Crossette was awarded a Fulbright prize for her contributions to international understanding.

Ms. Crossette has been a member of the adjunct faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and in 1980-81 was a Fulbright teaching fellow in journalism at Punjab University in Chandigarh, India. In 1994, she was the Ferris Visiting Professor on Politics and the Press at Princeton University, and later taught a seminar on writing on international affairs for Bard College. In 2003, she led an advanced workshop in journalism at the Royal University of Phnom Penh for writers and editors from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. In 2004-2005 she worked with journalists in Brazil as a Knight International Press Fellow.

Born in Philadelphia on July 12, 1939, Ms. Crossette received a B.A. in history and political science from Muhlenberg College in 1963. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where her writing on colonial era inns led to her being named founding editor in 1980 of the guidebook America's Wonderful Little Hotels and Inns.

The Shorenstein Journalism Award, which carries a cash prize of $10,000, honors a journalist not only for a distinguished body of work, but also for the particular way that work has helped American readers to understand the complexities of Asia. It is awarded jointly by the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University, and the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. This year’s recipient is Barbara Crossette.