Ms Aiyar holds a BA in Philosophy from Delhi University, an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford, and an MSc in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics. She has received numerous prizes and scholarships for her academic achievements including the All Indian Philosophy Conference Gold Medal, Chevening/Radhakrishnan scholarship for study at Oxford and Robert McKenzie Prize for her outstanding result at the LSE.
She began her journalistic career in January 1999 as an on-camera reporter at Star News, a 24-hour news channel broadcast nationally across India. During her time at Star News she reported on the impact of the widespread drought across India in May 2000 as well as the devastation wrought in the Himalayan foothills by the Chamoli earthquake of April 2004.
Upon moving to China in 2003, Ms Aiyar freelanced for a variety of news media, including significant reports on the 2003 SARS epidemic and the Indian Prime Minister's China visit in June 2003. While working for the Indian Express and The Hindu, she has written extensively on the manner of China's transformation from a poor, agrarian society into the world's fourth largest economy. Her work looked at both the social and political cost of this growth as well as the regulatory and policy initiatives that made such growth possible.
She has travelled and reported first hand from most parts of China, including stories from the first Beijing to Lhasa train, developments in Islamic belief amongst China's Hui Muslims, the HIV situation in the Yunnan province, the impact of plans to build a big dam on Tiger Leaping Gorge and the economic successes of the Yangtze River Delta that have helped steer the peasants in the area from rags into Rolls Royces.
She was awarded the Prem Bhatia Memorial Prize for Excellence in Reporting in 2006-2007, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the award. Her book on contemporary China will be published by Harper Collins (India) in April next year under the provisional title: Smoke and Mirrors: An experience of Chindia.