South Asian countries are competitive but, in many respects, they are complementary to each other also. All the member countries of SAARC are more or less homogeneous in the sense they have been facing similar nature of challenges in the development of the nation. Some reports have mentioned that the SAARC is failed due to its weaker performance in the global economy. The failure of SAARC is related to the failure of all the member countries of it.
Issues like widespread agriculture and rural poverty, social and economic inequality, lower economic growth rate, lack of efficient manpower and capital, low research and development spending, guided from superstition and religious thoughts, high illiteracy, etc. are common constraints for development or implementation of development strategies in SAARC countries. Most of the nations are belonging to the lower-middle-income class, facing repeated conflicts, war, and violence and some are frequently facing a natural disaster like an earthquake, flood, etc.
This has added more challenges to the development of SAARC and its member countries. The following table presents major constraints that have been facing by SAARC Countries.
Constraints or Challenges of Development Planning in SAARC Countries
Table: Constraints or Challenges of Development Planning in SAARC Countries
|Country||The constraint in Development Planning|
|Afghanistan||Corruption; mass poverty; patronage policies; war economy; destruction of state legitimacy; poor governance; destruction of human capital and infrastructure; violence; expansion of criminalized economy; abuse of rule and laws.|
|Bangladesh||Corruption; mass poverty; illiteracy; global warming; high population size; resource limitation; political turmoil; gender inequality.|
|Bhutan||Unemployment and growing unemployed youth population; climate change and natural hazards; demographic constraints; lack of accesses to affordable clean technology; high dependency; skewed population distribution;|
|India||There are not so many challenges in the economic field but more in the field of politics and administration as well as in the availability of qualified personnel. However, the basic constraints are; mass poverty; growing youth unemployment; weaker social indicators; illiteracy;|
|Maldives||Tsunami recovery and reconstruction; small, remote, and widely dispread Iceland communities; narrow economic base; the openness of the economy; youth and female unemployment; fragile reef; environmental challenges; limited access to socio-economic infrastructures.|
|Nepal||Infrastructural hurdle; lack of smooth supply; lower economic growth; low per capita income; mass poverty; low domestic demand; lower investment profile; weaker social indicators; high-cost economy; illiteracy; unemployed youths and female; higher dependency; lack of commitment for accomplishment.|
|Pakistan||High population; declining productivity; high dependency; inflationary pressure; fertility and family planning; quality of life; human resource development; quality governance; larger and loss-making public sectors; decade long struggles, economic distortion; conflict with India.|
|Sri Lanka||Inflationary pressure; management of public debts; post-conflict economic recovery; national integration; economic reforms; shoddier business environment; reforms needed in institutions belonging to the public sector; national integration.|
Discussion and Conclusion
SAARC nations have achieved progress in different aspects of their economies with help of adaptation of development planning. However, they are not been able to get the result obtained as expected and it is mainly due to these mentioned constraints. To get out of maximum possible challenges and constraints, South Asia must initially develop strategies depending on the level of development in each country and then go for cooperative strategies at the regional level.
Poverty is a common challenge or problem in South Asia. Half a billion people in the region have an income of less than $1.25 a day. Increasing out-migration from South Asia is mostly triggered by economic. Highly skilled and skilled workers mostly migrate to European Union countries, the USA, and Australia for better jobs and economic opportunities, while low skilled and semi-skilled workers mostly fond their jobs in Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) countries, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea. India is the only country that also receives a substantial number of migrant workers from other South Asian countries, particularly from Bangladesh and Nepal.
Increasing unemployment and underemployment rates trigger the outflow of migrant workers. Migrant demographics show that a large number of migrant workers from South Asia are low skilled; about half of Bangladeshi migrant workers in GCC countries and almost 75% of Nepalese workers are low skilled, while low skilled Sri Lankan makes up around 20 % of their migrant workers. Among Indian migrant workers in the GCC countries, 70% are semi-skilled, while 30% are professional and skilled.
Migration is prompted by both push and pull factors. On the side of push factors, we may find population growth, high rate of poverty, food insecurity, and low level of agricultural and institutional development. On the other hand, the pull factors may be globalization and openness of economic and comparatively handsome wage packets. Thus, labor migration is a rational choice made by individuals because of the demand for labor and wage differentials between the origin and the destination. Therefore, the issue along with others needs to address through appropriate policies, plans, and interventions.
Planning for supporting small enterprises and agribusinesses as a means of creation of employment within the home country could be one of the ways. Connecting the flow of remittance to productive sectors of the economy, focus on enhancing the productivity of wage earners, contingency planning for sudden drops in the demand for migrant workers in the destination markets, focus on the efficient utilization of the skill and resources of returnees, and so on could be the strategies and policy response that South Asian nations must consider to make notable changes in the socio-economic situation and thereby to form rich planning for long-lasting development and expansion.