South Asia, with 21 per cent of world population, has barely 1.5 percent of the word’s GNP and 3.3 per cent of the word’s total land area. Obviously it has the largest concentration of the word’s poverty. The seven countries of the region with their wide diversity have a population of over 1.2 billion. India alone by now has 76.2 percent or more than a billion people, followed by Pakistan at 10.6 per cent, Bangladesh at 9.7 per cent, Sri Lanka at 1.6 per cent, while Bhutan and the Maldives together have the remaining 0.5 per cent. It suffers endemic poverty and sense of deprivation, both having very many expressions and roots. Poor consumption, nutrition, education or sheer illiteracy, resource-poor bases are some of the expressions-all leading to risks, insecurities and vulnerabilities of all kinds. It is rightly stated that South Asia “landscape of poverty is simultaneously static and dynamic, transient and chronic, sporadic and systemic.” The regional entity of South Asian association for regional cooperation (SAARC was meant to create political dynamism while the South Asian Preferential Arrangements (SAPTA) and South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) are supposed to contribute to the necessary economic dynamism. In addition, some sub regional mechanisms like SAGQ (South Asian Growth Quadrangle-covering India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) have been created to provide further momentum towards cooperative endeavors.
In most regions of the world all such cooperative mechanisms have been utilized for overcoming the challenges of the globalization. In
Some western analysts tend to argue that the poorer countries stand to gain for globalization, though such a view seems far from real. For the advanced western capitalist countries spearheading globalization focus on free trading of gods of services and movement of capital hold the preeminent position in both cases, developing countries such as those in South Asia have plenty of surplus human labor that they can export should there be free movement of labor globally.
A country like Bangladesh that suffers from ‘soft state syndrome’ often emerge as a captive to the transnational actors and forces, featuring helplessly at the intersection of the vast array of regional and global network of organizations. Indeed, Bangladesh has become a victim of its trade liberalization policy, induced by the process of globalization mostly triggered by the global funding agencies like the WB and the IMF. Thus at the bilateral level Bangladesh opening its market to Indian products under the rubrics of WTO rules had been flooded by Indian goods, whereas India has denied Bangladesh similar market access.
Technological globalization does offer great breakthrough and potential for human advance and for eradicating poverty such as that South Asia has, but perhaps not with current development agenda of the South Asian nations. Again, globalization is creating new threats to human security both in rich and poor countries with sudden and harmful disruption in the pattern of day-to-day life of people.
The question may obliviously be there why there are such stresses and disparities? Education and income factors that poor mostly lack, are indispensable for getting an access into this communication network. Globally, 30 per cent of the Internet users had at least one university degree in 1998. To purchase a computer it would cost an average Bangladeshi more than his income, compared to the average American just one month’s wage. Those with income, education and literacy have cheap and instantaneous access to information. The rest are left with uncertain, slow and costly access.
The relentless pressures of global competition are squeezing out care, the invisible heart of human development. Today’s competitive global market is putting pressure on the time, resources and incentives for the supply of labor. For instance, women’s participation in the labor market is rising in the whole of South Asia; yet their hours spent in unpaid work remain very high indeed.
It hardly needs emphasizing that the developed western countries shape their international trade relations as well as their stance and posture in international organizations, which they control in accordance with their particular strategic and commercial interests.
In the ongoing globalization process the MNCs seem only interested in exporting cheap labor and natural resources in host countries without showing enough concern for the consequent social and environmental costs imposed upon them. They do not care whether or not polluting industries are being relocated in the in the developing countries and creating obstacles to their efforts at sustainable development.
While globally marketization generally led to higher growth in South Asian countries, the process played a decisive role in generating the process of poverty. It is also defining the space for the poor beyond which they cannot operate in the emerging market-driven context. It is true that different classes experience marketisation differently both positively and negatively: the moderate and hardcore poor face negative impacts of marketisations, while other classes such as the middle and the well-off do not have to go through similar grilling effects. Again, within the society the, richer segments and powerful elite groups though constituting a minor proportion of the total population, capture the lion’s share of benefits of the increased economic activity and social development programmers because their socio-economic strength enables them to prevail even when seeking undue advantage and, in any case, the market economy favors them and penalizes the weak and marginalized.