The Development of South Asia Through Integration
South Asia is considered one of the least integrated regions across the globe; yet in recent years, international organizations, such as the World Bank, are implementing strategies to unite the nations economically.

Understanding South Asia

South Asian countries consist of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asia is considered one of the fasting growing regions within the world today, and the region is home to two very fast-growing economies.

According to the World Bank, the development of South Asia is projected to increase from 6.9 percent to 7.1 percent in the upcoming year.

Bhutan, alone, is currently the fastest growing economy — the nation reports that it will grow at a staggering annual rate of 11.1 percent. India is also one of the fastest growing economies as well, with a growth rate at about 7.73 percent from 2017-2019.

The World Bank emphasizes the importance of cooperation and trade among South Asia, and they believe that the growth rate is predicted to increase if these nations work together in harmony.

Path to Progress

Regional, economic entwinement is the way in which development of South Asia progresses — the World Bank recognizes such measures and has initiated plans in order to unify this region.

As one of the first steps, the World Bank brought approximately 100 students together at the Fourteenth South Asia Economics Students’ Meet (SAESM). Economic undergraduates discussed their academic and experimental research about regional integration and its advantages.

They also explained how to attain economic prosperity through cooperation and trade, and students developed long-lasting friendships that should unequivocally encourage future relations among South Asian countries.

‘One South Asia’

Not only has the World Bank encouraged millennials, but they also have a twofold program called “One South Asia,” which directly forms connections among South Asian countries. The first objective is technical assistance, which will offer economic opportunities to strengthen trade connections. The second goal is to increase conversation about regional integration and local investments.

They are also trying to work with both the public and private sectors. The development of South Asia begins at the engagement of all levels of the economy.

There has been many obstacles to achieve “One South Asia,” yet the World Bank is determined to merge these nations together so they are successful economically, politically and socially. The development of South Asia as a whole will be difficult, yet it is possible and can occur if the region continues on this trajectory.

The World Bank’s Influence and Steps to Development

The World Bank has many projects within South Asian nations — particularly Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan — to improve their economies individually. Most of these initiatives create jobs and opportunities for their citizens.

Regional integration is also crucial to the development of South Asia. The only way to reach prosperity is for countries to form a union — if South Asia mirrored the European Union, the opportunities for growth within each nation are endless.

This is a challenge, yet if international organizations, governments and the citizens of South Asia work tirelessly, they will surely reach their Sustainable Development Goals.

– Diana Hallisey
Photo: Flickr

The World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa, Marcelo Giugale, recently wrote about the current progress and development around the world in regards to extreme poverty. He explains that the 2013 World Development Indicators (WDI) have recently been released, evincing the status and evolution of people who live on $1.25 or less. Giugale’s detailed description of what it would be like to live on such a meager number really captures the essence of poverty and contrasts it with the expectations, advancement, and materialism of the 21st century. It allows the reader to visualize life in another light, one that is much different than what would be expected from the 21st century. Giugale writes, “If you had something that could be called a house — [it] would have no electricity, gas, running water or sewer.”

Out of the world’s human population of 7 billion, 1.2 billion live in extreme poverty. However, Giugale expresses his optimism in commenting on how it has been proven through one region’s shift away from poverty that rapid economic growth can tackle poverty. For example, in the past 20 years through 2010, China’s fast economic growth played the main and most prominent role in lifting approximately 700 million people out of poverty. Giugale also sheds light on the fallacy that the 2008-2009 global financial crisis raised extreme poverty; that is not true, according to Giugale. The financial crisis “if anything…only slowed [down] temporarily the downward trend that extreme poverty had been on.”

The Director also shares that although almost half of all Africans still live in extreme poverty, the rate of poverty declined from 60% in 1993 to 48% in 2010. Taking into account economic growth while noting that Africa is home for a third of the world’s extreme poor emphasizes that growth is not enough; that much more can be done. Finally, he comments that, according to the World Development Indicators’ predictions, 250 million people will be lifted from poverty by 2015 (mainly people in South and East Asia).

It is intriguing to note the title of Marcelo Giugale’s article, Les Misérables, because it denotes a certain theme. In Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables, the story’s structure is described as a “progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to consciousness, from corruption to life.” Those deep words parallel Giugale’s point that more can be done, and that it is not costly for governments of countries with plenty of natural resources to alleviate their people’s misery. It is time to progress from injustice to justice, from hell into heaven.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: Huffington Post, Liturgy
Photo: Google