8.5: Future Challenges and Opportunities in South Asia
- Page ID
India’s male-skewed population pyramid is indicative of a larger issue of gender inequality in its society. The government of India has taken steps to reform its criminal code so that more criminals are prosecuted. In a country that has few female police officers, high rates of domestic violence, and a relatively low status of women, violence will likely remain a problem until these broader, systemic issues are addressed.
Overall, South Asia’s growing population will have a significant impact on its geography. In the 1960s, the Green Revolution, which refers to changes in agricultural technology and productivity, began in India. In older to combat widespread famine, a hybrid rice seed was developed that yielded ten times more rice than traditional seeds. It was called “Miracle Rice” and its use spread throughout Asia. Despite these agricultural advances, South Asia has the highest rates of child malnutrition of any world region. The low status of women, in particular, contributes to a lack of knowledge about the nutrients that are needed for children. Around one in three children in India are underweight.
Economically, South Asia has experienced rising prosperity yet systemic issues of governance and poverty remain. India has one of the world’s largest economies and the fastest growing economy in the region. This economic growth has mainly been focused on urban centers, drawing large numbers of people from the rural countryside to the cities in hope of finding work. Many cities have been unable to accommodate the rapid migration. As a result, sprawling slums exist in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Several factories have collapsed in recent years, killing thousands of workers and highlighting the poor working condition of many South Asians.
What does the future hold for South Asia? Although economic growth has reduced poverty in India, down from 60 percent in 1981 to 25 percent in 2011, corruption has increased. Inequality between genders, religious groups, castes, and ethnic groups remains a problem in much of the region. Communal conflict, or violence between members of different communities, has occurred. One example is Sri Lanka, where Buddhists have shaken the traditional peaceful image of their religion and have engaged in violent conflict with the minority Tamils and Muslims.
Still, local government and community leaders have sought to escape the shadow of the 20th century’s turmoil by embracing new models of development and cooperation. In Bhutan, the government initiative to measure gross national happiness resulted in shifting urban amenities, such as schools and healthcare clinics, to rural areas. This action slowed the rural to urban migration that was rapidly occurring in other locations. Despite political and military turmoil, Pakistan has been able to substantially decrease its poverty rate. South Asia remains a complex realm at the crossroads of modernization and traditional cultural and religious values.
- Green Revolution:
changes in agricultural technology and productivity beginning in India in the 1960s
- Communal conflict:
violence between members of different communities