Development Issues in South AsiaCourse number(s): 115
Offered Spring quarter in the 2011-2012 academic year
One-and-a-half billion people live in South Asia, which consists of eight states: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Up to the independence of India and Pakistan from British colonial rule in 1947, South Asia’s socio-economic conditions were similar, characterized by large rural populations, and low levels of literacy, life expectancy, and income. For the next 40 years, the political environment varied considerably across countries, while socio-economic conditions were similar— an interesting puzzle. This reversed from the mid-1990s: political conditions began to converge (though not in a straight line) toward democracy and economic governance converged towards the market economy, while average socio-economic conditions diverged—another interesting puzzle. India moved ahead economically, while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka moved ahead in social indicators such as health. Of course, within each country, significant variations exist within the average socio-economic condition, including inter-class and inter-ethnic variations—interestingly, some of these increased after colonial rule ended.
Our objective is to study socio-economic conditions from independence up to the present time. The sequence of discussions will be as follows. We will first theorize the roles that political governance (eg., democracy), national identity, and socio-economic institutions (eg., property rights) play in a country’s development, their establishment, and influence on outcomes such as rural welfare, and the market economy (Section 1). We will next apply these learnings to South Asia (Section 2), covering material on the South Asian development record, politics, regional cooperation, and ethnic issues. Third, we will look at exemplary cases from South Asia—the Kerala development experience, India’s IT industry, Bangladesh’s microfinance initiative, and Sri Lanka’s experience with education (Section 3).
Graduate and undergraduate
School of Humanities and Sciences