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No Escape From Southasia

To achieve your big power status, shed regional paranoia

No Escape From Southasia
T. Narayan
No Escape From Southasia
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

India is ‘big’ in more ways than merely the geographical spread and volume of its population. In diversity of terrain, climate and demography, the country already encompasses much of the subcontinent. The asymmetry of Southasia with a humungous India at its centre is what makes our subcontinental regionalism different from that of a European Union or an ASEAN, and is the reason SAARC has found it difficult to be something more than a post box of foreign ministries.

Size is supplemented by centrality, for India borders every country of the region while none of the other member-states of SAARC share a single frontier. It is the coastline of peninsular India that defines Southasia in maps and satellite imagery. The country has even managed to monopolise the region’s history. By a flick of Jawaharlal Nehru’s pen, New Delhi inherited the name of ‘ancient India’, and the rest of the region was excluded from the shared civilisational past. This act of naming is at the root of much unarticulated disconsolation—if ‘India’ had been left alone, there would have been little reason to invent ‘Southasia’.

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