Vidya Shankar Aiyar is an anti-nuclear weapons activist, an independent analyst of international relations and a media professional, formerly Executive Editor of CNN IBN. He was Honorary Adviser to the Indian PM’s nuclear disarmament group, 2011-14. He is the India Coordinator of the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND), and part of the Abolition 2000 network. He is associated with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Dr. Aiyar successfully lobbied the Indian government to attend global anti-nuclear conferences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna. At the Vienna conference Dr. Aiyar succeeded in making a presentation at the Austrian parliament, seeking its support to reverse Austria’s negative vote at the UN on India’s offer of a treaty prohibiting any use of nuclear weapons.
Aiyar obtained a doctorate on the breakup of the Soviet Union from Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1997. He led the first ever South Asian team to the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations. A Rockefeller Foundation 'Next Generation Strategic Analyst' (1988), he writes and speaks globally on these issues.
Dr. Aiyar was executive editor and prime time anchor of CNN IBN, India. He hosted the Real India Travel Show on the BBC, and began Indian TV’s first popular chat show, the Eyewitness Chat Show, with Karan Thapar.
Aiyar worked an anchor for Channel NewsAsia, Singapore. He became the only Indian TV journalist to have interviewed both then Indian PM Vajpayee and Pakistan Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf. It was PM Vajpayee’s only TV interview given to an Indian.
While working at Channel NewsAsia, Aiyar was found guilty of outraging the modesty of a woman. The court found that Aiyar had taken the victim back to his home while she was drunk, and had removed the victim's clothes to gratify his sexual desires.
The court sentenced him to 15 months in prison and four strokes of the cane. The victim avoided being caned after an appeal to the President, which was accepted for medical grounds. Aiyar chose not to appeal the judgment and was released after 10 months on grounds of good behaviour.
The case attracted media attention because of its high-profile nature, and possible race tensions between the Chinese and Indian communities in Singapore.
Aiyar is the nephew of the Indian politician Mani Shankar Aiyar.