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Evolving South Asia

Evolving South Asia

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Published by Zulfiqar Shah
Transformation in South Asia
Transformation in South Asia

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Published by: Zulfiqar Shah on Aug 18, 2013
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08/18/2013

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Beyond Regionalism
 
EVOLVING SOUTH ASIA
Beyond the much touted culture mantra, it is the political legacy combined by the geo-economic factors and emergingstrategic shifts in the global trends that determines the future of contemporary South Asia. Political legacy in terms of statebuilding, statehood and statecraft along with social process of development vis-à-vis state organism is the key towardsunderstanding this highly dynamic region. No doubt, despite huge inter- as well as intra-state disparities from thedevelopment point of view, the region offers great prospects for social and economic leadership in the world.The region shares similar development patterns, however, with certain peculiarities of each country’s political economy.South Asia houses 22 percent of the global population, makes for 2 percent of Global GDP and 1.3 percent of world trade—and accounts for 44 percent of the poverty-stricken segment of the globe, as compared to Sub-Saharan Africa which ishome to 46 percent of the world’s poor.Pakistan offers an example of a country which offers various juxtapositions in the course of its development. It issystematically underperforming on most social and political indicators including education,health, sanitation, fertility, genderequality, corruption, political instability and violence, and democracy vis-à-vis its GDP per capita growth over time, aptlynamed ‘growth without development.’ These inequalities are basically between various provinces and their ethnicities;urban and rural regions; and socio-politically marginalized and powerful groups. This is one of the main contributors tointra-state conflict, violence and politically instability in Pakistan; similar situation prevails in other countries of the region.If only one indicator of labor force is taken into consideration, the dire situation becomes evident. According to the LaborForce Survey 1982-83, 28 percent of the employed labor force had attained formal education in Pakistan, while the currentpopulation of the formally educated makes up 43 percent. But the pattern of growth in educated labor force is not uniformin all four provinces. Sindh had the highest level of literacy a couple of decades ago; Balochistan had the lowest literacylevel for the employed labor force. The gap between the literacy level of Sindh and the provinces of Punjab and KhyberPakhtunkhwa, has been further skewed in recent times. This is because Sindh’s educated mass has grown at a decreasingrate due to political instability in the province as well as the center’s inability to support the region.Similar is the case, however, on relatively lower scale and with slightly different nature, with other countries of the regionparticularly India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, where underdeveloped Northeast in India, Southeast in Bangladesh,Northwest in Sri Lanka and mountainous population of Nepal face socioeconomic marginalization and underdevelopment.This has resulted in a range of intra-state conflicts in the region that includes Kashmir, Jharkhand and Assam vs Delhi inIndia; mountainous tribes of Chittagong vs Dhaka in Bangladesh; Mountainous vs Tarai people in Nepal; Tamil vs Sinhalamajority in Sri Lanka; and Balochistan and Sindh vs Islamabad in Pakistan.Achieving stability and prosperity in the region calls for a multi-pronged approach. The unavoidable change in the anatomy

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