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Defining A Region

Medha Bisht

Edited by Akmal Hussain and Muchkund Dubey
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 639, Rs. 1850.00


Defining a region, particularly South Asia, is a difficult academic exercise. South Asia shares a common geographical space, though given that regional trade constitutes just about 5 per cent of the total trade flows the intensity of interaction can be questioned. Undertaking a regional analysis of South Asia, with specific country perspectives. Democracy, Sustainable Development and Peace: New Perspectives  on South Asia is an effort to bring together the region of South Asia into the frames of a shared imagination. An imagination, which as the authors point out at the outset, ‘will involve nurturing of rediscovery of consciousness of unity in diversity through the rediscovery of South Asia’s civilizational wellspring’. The integrating pillars of this civilizational well-spring as the authors put it are peace, sustainable development and democracy. Thus, with this as thethematic base, this edited book attempts to synergize the different imaginations (ecological, democratic, economic) of South Asia.  Democracy; Inclusive growth; Environmental Crises; Peace, South Asia’s Development and Financial Architecture; South Asian cultural traditions and Perspectives on South Asia, the seven broad sections of this book filter perspectives on South Asia, and paint a narrative of  the region which takes South Asia beyond the monologues to a dialogic canvas, which traces plurality to its essential form. In this context the historical tradition of South Asia has also been elaborated upon by various authors. For instance, Part One on Democracy, Part Four on Peace and Part Six on shared sensibility on South Asian cultural traditions appear significant, and perhaps provide an effective primer to the complexities associated with South Asian politics, primarily from an inside-outside lens. Subhash C. Kashyap on the state of democracy in India elaborates on the constitutional idea behind South Asia, and focuses on how this idea has been contaminated by an extensive exercise of power politics. In his words, ‘democratic governance is manipulated through use of flawed processes and use of money and mafia power. The weak, the poor, and the underprivileged become pawns in the power game and barter away their space to marauders of democratic governance for petty temptations’. This he says is one of the major democratic deficits of India as had it not been so, ‘with the vast majority of the people in India being poor and in the category of the underprivileged, it would have been possible for them to occupy the largest space in democratic polity and to have ...

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