Pentagon Press presents its seventh edition of the South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book. South Asia comprises eight independent countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These countries have contiguous borders with almost similar history, race, religion, language, culture and colonial legacies which make them unique from other regions of the world.
What makes this region important in the global context today? The factors include geographic location, interests of the major powers which treat this group of countries as a region, and the security concerns and interests of the states of the region. South Asia is a well defined and distinct geographical region, with near continental dimensions. Its total area is nearly two million square miles. The distance from west to east is more than 2,100 miles (3,379 kilometers) and from extreme north to south is also roughly the same. With approximately one fourth of the worlds population, it ranks third as a major concentration of human beings on earth.
Traditionally South Asia has been an attractive economic proposition for the world. It lies on the junction between South East Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia which are equally sensitive and strategic regions. China also greatly impacts the region. Thus with the advent of two nuclear powers discoveries of nuclear trafficking and the growth of insurgencies and terrorism that directly threaten global peace, South Asia has become a primary theatre of concern as it has a great potential for violence.
The world cannot be called truly globalized if it is global in terms of commerce and trade, science and technology, while regions are experiencing conflict and ostensibly out of balance. The South Asian panorama is one of the most volatile conflict ridden areas of the globe. Most of the states in South Asia are still grappling to find the right mix in terms of religion ethnicity, language and geopolitics. Any study of its dynamics offers diametrically opposite viewpoints and there is strong justification in favour of both an optimistic as well as pessimistic outlook. High young demography improved governance a rising middle class and democracy in all countries in the region will result in nearly 20 million more people joining the labour force, every year for the next two decades. Almost a billion people will join the ranks of the middle class. The region has the potential to benefit from a new wave of services and international migration and human mobility. Indeed the drivers of growth seem to have already moved to Asia.