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Articles in South Asia

Electricity, Entertainment, and Birth Rates in India

By Martin W. Lewis | July 24, 2010 | One Comment

Electricity provision is a major issue in India. Almost half of rural houses are not served, and the basic infrastructure is woefully inadequate, with transmission losses of over 30 percent. According to the Wikipedia, electricity theft “amounts to 1.5 per cent of India’s GDP.” To be sure, India is responding, investing in conventional power

Uneven Economic Development in India

By Martin W. Lewis | July 22, 2010 | 2 Comments

India’s map of per capita GDP conforms relatively well to the general patterns of Indian development outlined earlier this week, with higher figures in the south and far north, lower figures in the north-center, and mixed figures in the far northeast. A few deviations from this basic configuration, however, are worth noting.

India’s Demographic Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | July 20, 2010 |

On July 12, 2010, the Telegraph reported that India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2026, its population rising to 1.6 billion by 2050. According to the Indian demographic study referenced by the article, continuing growth threatens the country’s economic development, requiring new approaches to population control. The report linked

Introducing GeoCurrent’s Atlas of Indian Development

By Martin W. Lewis | July 19, 2010 | 3 Comments

According to Oxford University’s recently released Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have similar levels of intensive poverty, far higher than those found in other regions of the world. The same report shows that South Asia contains the world’s largest number of truly impoverished people. As the Hindustan Times reported on

Afghanistan’s Hazaras: Fears and Hopes

By Martin W. Lewis | April 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

The restive Hazara region of Pakistan is not inhabited by the Hazara people, whose homeland, Hazarajat, lies instead in central Afghanistan. But the Hindkowans of Hazara and the Hazara of Hazarajat face some similar issues. Both have tense and sometime violent relations with the Pashtun people who live between them. And in both areas, development

Ancient Gandhara and Modern Pakistani Politics

By Martin W. Lewis | April 15, 2010 |

As we saw yesterday, a group of people seeking to develop the language and culture of the Hindkowan people of northern Pakistan call their organization the Gandharan Hindko Board. Although Gandhara disappeared as a kingdom and a culture over a thousand years ago, the term is widely used in the region by such groups as

Provincial Names and Ethnic Tensions in Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | April 14, 2010 |

A bill to change Pakistan’s constitution, largely by reducing the extensive powers of the presidency and increasing provincial autonomy, has been working its way through parliament. The proposal has broad support; President Asif Ali Zardari is extremely unpopular, as were his immediate processors. One seemingly innocuous amendment to the bill, however, has proved bitterly divisive

The Andaman Islands: Cultural Extinction, Paleolithic Survival, and Modern Naval Warfare

By Martin W. Lewis | February 23, 2010 | One Comment

In February 2010, a number of major media outlets reported the death of Boa Sr, the last speaker of Bo in India’s Andaman Islands. Sadly, there is nothing unusual about the extinction of Bo; a language disappears somewhere in the world roughly once a month. Some 500 languages are spoken by fewer than ten

And the Capital of Sri Lanka Is?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2010 | One Comment

Perceptive Geocurrents reader Gnesileah noted that the Mo Rocca/Claire Calzonetti “capital-off” contest (posted on January 30) contained a few minor errors. The capital of Sri Lanka is not Colombo, as Mo Rocca had responded, apparently correctly, but rather Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (usually simply called “Kotte”). Kotte is not far from Colombo, but it is a

Pashtun Shiites

By Martin W. Lewis | February 6, 2010 |

Today’s New York Times includes three important articles pertaining to Sunni/Shiite tensions. Two of these are all-too-typical reports of terrorist attacks on Shia pilgrims by Sunni extremists, one in Karachi, Pakistan, the other in Iraq. The third article, on new leadership emerging among the Pakistani Taliban, is much less conventional (“With Taliban Leader Reported Dead

Declining Violence In Northeastern India

By Martin W. Lewis | January 21, 2010 |

On January 19, 2010, a grenade attack near the Manipur Police Chief’s residence in northeastern India critically injured three people. No one has yet claimed responsibility, and it would be risky to venture a guess, since for sheer diversity of insurgent groups it is hard to beat northeastern India. This remote and little-known area is

Violence In Nuristan, Formerly Kafiristan

By Martin W. Lewis | January 18, 2010 |

The province of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan has recently emerged as one of the most insecure regions of the world. On January 13, 2010, a fourth delegation sent to negotiate the return of kidnapped Greek social worker Athanasios Lerounis returned home empty-handed. In October 2009, the United States abandoned its four key outposts in the

The Northern Areas Become Gilgit-Baltistan

By Martin W. Lewis | January 4, 2010 | 2 Comments

The former princely state of Kashmir is one of the world’s most contested territories (see map). During the British colonial period, Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja (under British “advisement”) even though its population was (and is) mostly Muslim. The political partition of British India into the independent states of India and

Telangana: A New State in India?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 20, 2009 | 2 Comments

Not long after gaining independence, India remapped its internal political geography so that its main divisions would roughly correspond with linguistic groups. With each major language community being granted its own state, local demands for autonomy would, theoretically, be much reduced. Although this policy has generally resulted in stable “statoids”(see, agitation for the creation

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