South Asia

South Asia refers to the Indian subcontinent,

which stretches from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. India is the dominant state here, with Pakistan in the west, Bangladesh in the east, Nepal and Bhutan in the Himalaya mountains and Sri Lanka in the south.

India is the second-largest country in the world by population. Due to higher fertility rates, it will surpass China before long.

The whole subcontinent was dominated by the British Empire until 1947. At India’s independence, Britain and New Delhi engineered a separation of the mostly Muslim Pakistan in the east and the west (today’s Bangladesh was then part of Pakistan) from the predominantly Hindu India. Under British supervision, a huge resettlement of millions of people between India and Pakistan was enforced. This, together with the arbitrary partition of Kashmir, is at the root of the conflict between India and Pakistan. More than 100 million Muslims still live in India.

India is also very concerned about China’s assertiveness. There are border disputes between the two countries in the Himalayas. India is strengthening its military and naval capabilities while Pakistan is aligning more closely with China. Islamabad considers the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a strategic endeavor. The CPEC’s railways and highways link the western Chinese province of Xinjiang to the Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean. This corridor boosts China’s political and economic influence over Pakistan.

India struggles with a deficient public education system, excessive bureaucracy and poverty. The country, however, displays a certain political stability and has no food security issues. Pakistan’s problems are similar.

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