By DWAIPAYAN REGMI-South Asia occupies more than one-fifth population of the entire world, but still the GDP is less than two percent. There are four million poor people’s living in South Asia which calculates almost thirty percent of the people here are living below the poverty line. Glancing back to history, South Asian region was forward in lot of aspects, but later after the First World War, entire South Asian region stayed back. South Asia should have been strong enough to challenge G8 nations, but the various factors like poverty, illiteracy, corruption, uncertain political environment, civil wars have made the development process really back. Despite the fact South Asian region has entire resources and can make its own stand, it still has to hope for the funding from abroad this indeed is a sad fact. Only Malaysia and Thailand turned able to make a firm economic stand in the Asian region, China can be seen in speedy process though.
Political instability is one of the major reasons for this. Almost all the countries are having or were having the troubles in last ten years. India has it own internal conflict, and beside that the religion war is troubling them. Suspicion on Pakistan increased after the attack made on Hotel Taj since November 2008 created the distrust among two. Pakistan on the other hand, although was struggling to prove that they were not actually responsible for any terrorist activities, the death of Osama helped India to bring suspicious belief as even United States grew aggressive since then.
Afghanistan’s condition is clear. From their early attack that was made by Russia, ever since Taliban took birth, country is not yet able to maintain the stability. Deaths and blasts are getting normal thereby. Sri Lanka got finally freedom after they were able to kill Tamil Tiger. Nepal has not yet been able to come into proper stand despite of their peace talk with Maoists that brought the ten years civil war to end. For Bhutan, the refugee issue has been trouble internationally. Bangladesh although seems to be far from these things, highly dense population is burden realized and nor has it been able to make a rapid increment In GDP.
Ineffective works of the regional cooperation comes as the next important reason as the hindrance for South Asian countries. Although various cooperation like SAARC, BIMSTEC are there in South Asian region, but their ineffective works and getting limited only to paper work habit has slowed down the development of South Asian countries. The objectives set by SAARC and BIMSTEC seems attractive and one can clearly express that if these objectives are met, the development would take place ten times faster. But their delay, and get together in every meeting has been the major activities that the member nations has been limited up to, which has made the snail walking process. SAFTA’s agreement is wonderful, but still does not make sense as it is not applied in this real world and is simply limited within the paper works. India’s recent blockade upon Nepal should have shown strength of these formalities after all.
There is high rate of corruption in South Asia that acts as the next important hindrance for the development of South Asian countries. Transparency International (TI) shows that Afghanistan with the score of 1.5, Nepal with 2.2, Pakistan 2.5, Bangladesh 2.7, India 3.1, Sri Lanka 3.3 lists out the index of corrupted countries as per their report of 2011. Although each citizen is compelled to pay taxes on
every sector, the collected amount gets corrupted and that creates the low quality bridge in the development process. The low literacy rate is again next reason for the growth of hindrances in this smooth way. India is with 74.4%, Bangladesh 55.9%, Sri Lanka 94.2%, Maldives 97%, Pakistan 58.2%, Nepal 68.2%, Bhutan 58.2 and Afghanistan being the least of around 28% as included by UNDP in 2011. The data shows its hard for lot of South Asian countries to be Georgia in near future. Although the population education has been playing important role in these countries that has controlled the rapid growth to some extent, there still exists the trouble of unemployment. The inability to make proper use of the resources that the countries have with them is the reason for this. The countries in South Asia seek for foreign aid, and FDI and they give it the due importance for the development phase. This unemployment ration has therefore given the birth to the new trend of getting lost abroad. They fly to the countries like Untied Kingdom, United States, Australia in the name of education and get lost there. Again peoples go to Dubai, Qatar and other places risking their life to do works there.
Scholars have claimed that the strong coordination between the members and a firm shape of SAARC can be as weighty as ASEAN countries. But the trouble among them, their internal conflicts has made the development phase really slow. Despite the fact all South Asian countries aim to be Japan some day, they have been unable for any developmental works. India’s vision should be respectful towards its own ‘Neighbor first’ policy, only then this geographical unity would mark impact.
Writer is a freelance writer and a blogger from Nepal.
Twitter : @dwaipon