The south Asian region has been touted by many as the next big developing region which is to be the most dominant region in roughly half a century, allowing it to be in the big league alongside the US and other major countries. The south Asian region has a strategic location and those countries which fall under this region mainly act as links between the east and the west, giving impetus to flourishing trade and commerce.
The population boom in this region is also a matter of great concern. Development has taken place in a really fast paced manner though it also has led to a large number of issues that require immediate attention. Skyscrapers grow by the hundreds but so do the number of slums and homeless settlements. Governments come and go bringing along their different policies, each presumably stating that it's better than the previous. But does anybody wonder how much have we lost in order to gain what we think is the order of this new developed modern world we all so desperately want to be a part of.
The south Asian region has been a prominent hotbed for conflicted governance be it the Political instability in Thailand since the elected government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup in September 2006 following months of street protests and disputed elections. The country has struggled to rebuild a functioning democratic system since that military putsch, with opposing political groups increasingly taking to the streets and bypassing a weakened parliamentary system. Years of political tensions have uncovered stark political, social and ideological divisions, which have, on occasion, led to bombings and arson attacks and deadly clashes on the streets between opposing protest groups and between protesters and security forces. Despite prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s 2008 inauguration claim to give high priority to the southern insurgency, the governments weakness and its reliance on military personnel to deal with tensions in a widely unrestricted and uncontrolled way, led to a considerable upward trend in violence since 2009.
The resulting instability has greatly affected the agricultural and tourism sectors on which the poorest communities rely. The concern is that if the unrest continues it could transform into an ethno-nationalist insurgency, attracting Islamic extremists and having international reverberations.
Civil war in Nepal: The country of Nepal witnessed a civil war, an armed conflict between government forces and Maoist fighters which lasted from 1996 until 2006. The war was launched by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on 13 February 1996, with the aim of overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing a 'People's Republic'.
More than 15,000 people were killed and an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people were internally displaced as a result of the conflict. This conflict disrupted the majority of rural development activities and led to a deep and complex Left Front which, together with the Nepali Congress, propagated for democratic change. The militant faction i.e. the Maoists labeled the government forces "feudal forces," and included in this accusation was the monarchy and the mainstream political parties. The armed struggle began soon afterward with simultaneous attacks on remote police stations and district headquarters and the police was mobilized to contain the insurgency. The king of Nepal maintained a puppet democratic government which depended upon him for their status to remain legitimate. Under the aegis of the global War on Terrorism and with the stated goal of averting the development of a "failed state" that could serve as a source of regional and international instability, the United States, European Union, and India, among other nations, have provided extensive military and economic aid to the Nepali government. This material support to the Nepali government dried up after King Gyanendra seized full control in February 2005 to get rid of civil war for once and all. As a result of the civil war, Nepal's greatest source of foreign exchange, its tourism industry, suffered considerably.
Internal conflict in Burma has been brewing since the country's attainment of independence from the United Kingdom in 1948 successive central governments of Burma have fought a myriad of ethnic and political rebellions.
Some of the earliest insurgencies were instigated by Burmese-dominated "multi-colored" left-wing groups and the Karen National Union (KNU); the KNU fought to create an independent Karen state from a large section of Lower Burma (or Outer Myanmar). Other ethnic rebellions started in the early 1960s after the central government refused to consider a federal government structure. By the early 1980s, politically oriented armed insurgencies had largely withered away, while ethnic-based insurgencies continued.
Corruption is another issue which is pervasive and deeply entrenched in most Asian countries. It is a cancer eating at the heart of Asia. Each year, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index publishes ever more dismaying figures. According to the 2011 index, only one Asian country, Singapore, is ranked among the top 10 least corrupt countries and territories of the world. Only two others, Hong Kong and Japan, made it to the top 20.
The above instances highlight the very fact that bad governance and corruption can severely hamper a country's progress and in order to prevent such conflicts the government should be ever vigilant, efficient and be ever ready to formulate new policies as well as exercise such policies, which will foster peace as well as prosperity in the country.
Economic Growth is a very important aspect for a nation and since we live in a world where globalization is basically the order of the day and there's always the need for a strong and stable economic policy so that the country in question can prosper economically and establish itself as a economically sound nation, we feel the need to better our policies, increase the efficiency of the ruling government and establish a decent standard of living for all the people. How this can be achieved with the least amount of con's as compared to the pro's , a plan should be devised. This plan should be formulated in such a way that maximum benefits can be derived out of it and that majority of the population will be benefit from the formulation of such a plan.
Globalization, new technology and market oriented reforms are the major factors behind Asia's rapid growth. However, the changes in these major factors have also led to the rise in inequality among the Asian population. Official surveys state that Asia’s rapid growth in recent decades has lifted hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, but the region remains home to two-thirds of the world’s poor, with more than 800 million Asians still living on less than $1.25 a day and 1.7 billion surviving on less than $2 a day. Poverty reduction remains a daunting task.
The rapid increase in inequality has become a matter of great concern and inequality here does not only involve the inequality of income but also the inequality of oppurtunity. Great inequality can lead to social unrest. It threatens social cohesion and harmony. It is fundamentally objectionable because it is contrary to the purpose of development — which is to benefit all citizens, rather than a privileged minority. In order to achieve inclusive growth, Asian governments will have to re-examine their economic model and social compact through economic, tax and social policy reforms.
The gap between Asia’s rich and poor has widened alarmingly in the past two decades. In many countries, the richest 1% of households account for close to 10% of total consumption, and the top 5% account for more than 20%.The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality, has increased in much of the region: taking developing Asia as a single unit, the Gini coefficient has increased from 39 to 46.
However, more and more Asian countries are recognizing the impact inequality has on the economic growth of a country and how it can hamper the efforts of the government so in order to continue on the path to progress and betterment the countries have developed more inclusive growth i.e. growth based on equality of opportunity, as the core of their economic policy.
Environmentally Sustainable development: Another major side effect of Asia's rapid growth is the damage it has caused to the environment. The over-utilization of fossil fuels has lead to the exhaustion of non-renewable sources of energy, has greatly degraded air quality and eco-systems, decreased the supply of clean water, and created significant health hazards. Asia has become the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to global warming and climate change. Its cities are amongst the most polluted and the most vulnerable to extreme weather events. Recent climate-related disasters in China, the Philippines and Thailand are a reminder that Asian policymakers must act now to protect their citizens and mitigate and reverse the signs of climate change to secure sustainable growth for the future.
Asian food security is threatened by deforestation and desertification. More than a third of the arable land in Asia is at risk. The loss of forests and agricultural land is due to both the exploitation for profit and the ignorance of good practices. Isolated, rogue regimes such as Burma exploit timber, oil, and mineral resources to support their governments. Poor farmers across Asia use improper irrigation and fertilization practices, resulting in increased salinity and toxic soil. Regardless of motive and method, the loss of workable land hurts not only the harvester, but also has broad consequences for his neighbors in terms of erosion, downstream flooding, and pollution.
As the demand for water grows with population and the economy, water supplies will be increasingly polluted from untreated sewage, from industrial discharges, and from salt-water intrusion of overexploited water tables.
A good policy to bring about progress and development along with the concept of maintaining a healthy environment is the need of the hour. Education plays a really important role in making the citizens aware of his actions and the effects it might cause which will be make the citizen more considerate towards the environment.
So, while the rise of Asia should be celebrated, the challenges it faces must not be underestimated. It is not enough for Asia to be prosperous — it must also become more equitable, promote good governance, and be able to ensure a high quality of life for all its citizens.
Guide to conflict and peace-building in Thailand.http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/thailand/
Guide to conflict and peace-building in Nepal.http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/nepal/
Guide to conflict and peace-building in Myanmar.http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/myanmar/
Guide to conflict and peace-building in Kashmir.http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/kashmir/
Asian challenges. http://www.oecd.org/economy/asia-challenges.htmhttp://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/03/08/three-challenges-to-asia-s-global-ascent/
(Miss Tamang is an intern in AIDIA)