The illogical rejection of the idea of South Asia

Source– The post is based on the article “The illogical rejection of the idea of South Asia” published in The Hindu on 18th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- India and its neighbourhood- Relations

Relevance– Regional cooperation in South Asia

News- The article explains the challenges and obstacles for regional cooperation in South Asia. It suggests the solution for boosting regional cooperation in the region.

What are the main points of a recent World Bank study on air pollution in South Asia?

It concludes that about two million people die prematurely in South Asia each year. Particulate measure concentrations put nine South Asian cities among the world’s top 10 worst affected by air pollution.

In Bhutan, the average PM2.5 concentration from 2018-2020 was three times World Health Organization-prescribed limits.

The solution to the problems of air pollution lies in a “whole of region” approach. South Asian countries should begin talks between scientists, officials and leaders to create a mechanism for the cooperative management of air pollution.

What are the challenges faced by the South Asian region?

Climate change crisis led to floods in Pakistan. The Ukraine war has increased the cost of procuring energy, grain, fertilisers.

There are chances of persistent global economic recession. South Asia is facing threats from variants of the COVID-19 virus, terrorism, especially arising from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

The Region has failed to build a regional defence to the issues arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and NATO sanctions, trade ban and weapons stockpiling. South Asia has missed the chance to build an energy “cartel” that can command a better price for the region.

Bangladesh, Pakistan and India buy more than 50% of their liquefied natural gas through the spot market. It is an indicator of their vulnerability to global energy trends.

What are the obstacles for regional cooperation in South Asia?

Pakistan has refused talks with India. It has missed out on being part of the South Asia energy grid that is boosting regional connectivity within BBIN grouping.

India and Pakistan continue to hold up the SAARC Summit for nearly a decade. If New Delhi can virtually hold a special meeting for the “Global South”, there is no reason why it cannot convene or participate in a regional dialogue.

They have missed opportunities for regional cooperation in health security. Although, India has worked bilaterally with most of its neighbours to provide COVID-19 medicines.

 

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