Chapter 14: Demographic Profile of Economic Resources and Environment in South Asia
Jalandhar Pradhan Introduction South Asia is known to constitute one of the critical regions in the world primarily due to the fact that most of the Asian states are engrossed in varying degrees of interstate disputes and conflicts. Also, the South Asian region – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka – possesses an extraordinary diversity in land forms and climatic regimes ranging from the highest mountains, hottest plains, wettest and driest places and dissected valleys to coral islands. With a total population of 1,379.8 million (World Bank, 2003), the major concern of the region has been the deepening nature of poverty and its impact on the process of environmental degradation. With 22 per cent of the world’s population, and a high density rate, it is plagued by high levels of illiteracy, prevalence of poor health conditions and a low GNP. The extent of human deprivation in South Asia is also colossal. About 260 million people lack access to even rudimentary health facilities, 337 million lack safe drinking water, 830 million have no access to basic sanitation facilities, and over 400 million go hungry each day. Despite all this, South Asia is one of the most militarized regions in the world. The widespread human deprivation contrasts sharply with large armies, modern weapons and expanding military budgets. Indeed, two of the largest armies in the world are in South Asia and it is also the only region where military spending (as a proportion of GNP) has gone up since...
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