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Category: South Asia Bulletin

South Asia Bulletin

SAB Vol 1, Issue 2

South Asia occupies an increasingly prominent role in global affairs. According to the World Population
Prospects 2022 by the United Nations, the region will be home to 3.5 billion people out of 8 billion
globally by November 2022. Four out of the top eight populous countries will be in the region. China
and India round off the top two positions, though they will exchange ranks.

The region continues to experience political and economic instability. Sri Lanka got a new president
after the former president fled the country following months of social protest and financial crisis.
The government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is struggling for the mandate as former Prime
Minister Imran Khan made a sensational comeback in the Punjab elections in Pakistan. The Taliban
has failed to garner recognition, though some major powers now engage the Taliban.

The region suffers from high inflation, ballooning debt and dwindling forex. Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the
Maldives are at different stages of negotiation with the International Monetary Fund seeking support.
Most countries have high single-digit inflation, but Sri Lankas’s is a staggering 45 percent. Every South
Asian currency has depreciated against the greenback, reaching record lows.

The region might be able to benefit from the IMF support in the short term, but the political cost in the
medium term could be high as IMF-mandated austerity bites.

South Asia Bulletin

SAB Vol 1, Issue 1

South Asia Bulletin: What, Why and When?
Conventionally, South Asia (SA) covers the region to the West of Myanmar (South East Asia), South of
the Himalayas, and East of Iran (Middle East), extending to the Indian Ocean. Most of the region was
colonized by the British, who called it the ëIndian subcontinent.í
In contemporary parlance, SA consists of the eight countries under the regional grouping called South
Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is home to a quarter of world population.
SAís global economic share has increased in recent decades, particularly with the rise of India and
Bangladesh. In addition, SA boasts two nuclear powers- India and Pakistan. Many analysts argue
that SA (primarily India) will play a critical role in the global balance of power in the coming decades
if it already has not done so. The accelerated interests and engagement of international and regional
powers such as the US, China, the EU, and Japan in the region suggest the significance of SA will
only continue to grow in breadth and depth.
However, the understanding of SA is limited. Even more concerning is the limited understanding of
countries in the region besides India. The global understanding of SA is Indo-centric. Without a doubt,
India remains the dominant and most consequential country in the region. Therefore, many outsiders
view South Asian affairs through an Indian lens. This provides a wrong understanding of the region
and, subsequently, faulty policies. Therefore, there is a need to study and understand SA countries
on their merit.