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Challenges for a Cooperative Agenda


Pallavi Kalita

SOUTH ASIA: ENVISIONING A REGIONAL FUTURE
Edited by Smruti S.Pattanaik
Odyssey Books, 2011, pp. 299, Rs. 895.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 8-9 August-September 2011

With increasing globalization, economic integration is an important part of development efforts in any region. Despite a lack of cohesive economic unit in South Asia, there has been growing interest in South Asia as a destination for trade and investment. Also politically South Asian countries are in a state of flux given the establishment of newly elected democratic governments in many South Asian countries. This indeed gives hope for a politically stable region in the future. This book addresses the challenges to regionalism and the need for greater economic and inter-governmental cooperation thereby envisioning a regional future. Is South Asia moving towards a cooperative regional agenda and political stability? What is the role of domestic politics in moulding the future of South Asia? How important is regional security for South Asia's economic integration? What is the way ahead for South Asian integration? Smruti S. Pattanaik deals with these issues very succinctly in this book. "...the book gives a flavour of different issues and challenges the region is facing and at the same time puts across the ways and means to overcome them. Pattanaik’s book lucidly manages to capture the regional cooperation and security aspects as well as the murky domestic politics that the region is embedded in." Of the four sections in the book, the first, 'Forging Regional Consensus', seeks to discuss issues that would determine the future direction of the region. Nirupama Rao gives a broad perspective of the reasons for forging close economic ties as well as the challenges faced in the region. Arvind Gupta sketches out a few seemingly plausible scenarios that can take shape given the choices that are made in the present. Gupta points out the key drivers that can either lead to cooperation or conflict in the region as being demography, internal instability, economic growth, energy, climate change and food security among others. According to Sujit Dutta the deplorable condition of the region is unlikely to change unless a common set of norms for political stability, security and domestic order is set across the region. Shahedul Anam Khan points out that in the spate of recent terrorist attacks in the SAARC region, regional cooperation is of utmost importance as no country can deal with this process single-handedly. He rightly points out that there is a 'compulsion to cooperate' regionally or suffer. Kaiser Bengali and Nausheen Wasi argue that it is in India's interest ...


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