Working Paper
Socio-economic development in South Asia

The past 50 years

The story of South Asia is a topsy-turvy one. Soon after independence from British rule, the region seemed to have a much better prospect than many other parts of the Third World; the prospects soon dimmed, however, as South Asia crawled while East and Southeast Asia galloped away.

But a large part of the region seems finally to have turned a corner and is looking forward to a much better future—in terms of both growth and human development—than was deemed possible at the time Asian Drama was written.

This paper describes and explains this story in terms of the economic strategies and political economy of the region and also looks ahead to identify the major challenges that remain—focusing on Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan.