South Asia holds almost a quarter of the world’s population, making it one of the densely populated regions of the world with diverse mixes of races, religion, languages and indigenous social groupings. Going beyond cultural confluence, South Asian region has an inter-twined socio-cultural fabric and economic dynamics that shape and stimulate its growth and development. What makes the regional identity more acceptable to the States within, is a shared natural frontier bounded by the Himalayan mountain range in the North, the Hindukush in the North-West, the hilly Himalayan foothills and densely forested Burmese frontier in the North-East, to the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea encircling the South-East, South and South-Western frontiers respectively. Thus Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and India fall within this space. Any definition of the region beyond this geo-strategic identity might incite unacceptability due to national, religious or ethnic sentiment of its constituent Nations. There are however, socio-cultural and religious commonalities that find relevance of operation within specific historic time-frame, resulting in a largely multi-ethnic and multi-cultural fabric in the past and present.
India occupies a much noticed status among the South Asian nations, given its vast size in territory and population, and growing economy. This goes on to the extent where the understanding of the region is almost inter-changeably used with the understanding of India. Yet, the region is not homogenous and there is a vast range of diversity. At the outset one would not immediately think of sub-regional, ethno-cultural and religious identities that blend beyond National borders. With Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sharing water frontiers with India, Nepal and Bhutan at Chinese frontier and Afghanistan separating the region from Central and West Asia, these neighbors make strategically the most important countries of research while understanding the construction of the region as a whole.
The real defining feature in South Asia today are the large tracts of territory and population that are projected to steadily move from agricultural practices of the 1950s and are open to rapid industrialization, forming large markets equally for production and consumption. In this Asian century, South Asian demography is projected to be favorable for supplying the job-market with semi-skilled, skilled professionals. The first stride of investment is always infrastructure, and keeping in line with future projections the ball has already been set rolling in the development of communication and infrastructural investments. Hence one can see large amount of investment in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, while Afghanistan is projected to undergo a massive infrastructural reconstruction. A major constraint here being that local investors have preference to invest their money abroad, so that their money keeps turning at the cost local industries; recent trends pointing to ‘ease of business’ have brought in a fresh lease of investment which is projected to stabilize in the years to come. The region is home to SAARC, BBIN, SASEC; and South Asian nations find membership in other regional, and sub-regional groupings in the Asia-Pacific placing the region favorably towards multilateral cooperation.