Author: Ranjit Kumar
Publisher: Manas Publications
ISBN/UPC (if available): 817049219X
South Asia, where one fifth of humanity lives, is in a dire need of peace, stability and development which can be achieved much faster with the concept of cooperative living of nation states. The European Union has presented an example before the world in implementing this concept. The Second World War resulted in a long phase of cold war between communism and capitalism, between open and closed economies and an Europe sharply divided between the two with nuclear missiles targeted at each other.
Similar situation cane be said to be prevailing in South Asia though at a much smaller scale abut the tension here is over territories tinged with religious overtone. The South Asia continues to be divided with almost closed borders and flexing of nuclear muscles by the two big members of SARC. The end of cold war and the expansion of free trade in Europe has resulted in an economically integrated Europe which is gradually evolving into a powerful political entity. The European Union perhaps is the greatest peace project undertaken during the last decade of the previous century, the seeds of which were sown after the end of second world war.
The South Asian countries need to learn lessons from European Union. An integrated economy of South Asia with open bordrs and visa regime as prevailing in Europe would go a long way in addressing much of the problems of South Asian poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy. For this a South Asian Economic Union on the lines of the European Union has been envisaged by the SAARC leaders. It seems to be a pipe dream for South Asians now but Europeans also saw such dream long back. The South Asians can also realize the dream of not only economic union but a fully fledged South Asian Union as EU is going to take spare. This book discusses the problems, possibilities and prospects of such UNION for South Asia.
As the Subcontinent steps onto the cusp of a radical economic and political transformation, the ideas of regional free trade and an economic union have gained ground. The notion of open borders and a common currency, too, have entered the political lexicon in South Asia. Ranjit Kumar deftly delineates the origins and prospects of the new dream for re-connecting the people of the subcontinent and reintegrating its markets. Drawing on the recent European experience, Kumar lays out a compelling vision for shared peace and prosperity in the Subcontinent through economic integration under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Dispensing with academic jargon, Kumar provides us a lucid account of the exciting possibilities for recasting the international relations of South Asia. The nightmare of the partition and the many inter-state and civil wars that followed are part of the Subcontinent’s recent dismal past. But the future, Kumar convinces us, could be very bright unlike the past.
-C Raja Mohan,
Professor of south Asian Studies,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.