Chapter 12: South Asia (Fig. 12. 1) Learning Objectives



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Chapter 12:
South Asia
(Fig. 12.1)

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the unique climatological challenges of this region, which include monsoons and cyclones, and accompanying flooding

  • Learn about the challenges and strategies of feeding a large and growing population

  • Become familiar with the physical, demographic, cultural, political, and economic characteristics of South Asia

  • Understand the following concepts and models:

Introduction

Setting the boundaries

  • The “Subcontinent,” a distinct landmass of Asia south of the Himalayan Mountains; there is extensive cultural and religious diversity in the region

  • India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives

  • South Asia is the world’s second most populous region and growing, raising concerns about food production keeping pace

  • South Asia was a British colony for several centuries

  • Since achieving independence in 1947, India and Pakistan have been embroiled in conflict; both countries have nuclear weapons

  • This region is one of the world’s poorest

Environmental Geography: Diverse Landscapes, from Tropical Islands to Mountain Rim

  • Building the Quadrilateral Highway

  • Multilane highways rare, travel time long

  • New route will connect New Delhi,

Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras),

and Mumbai (Bombay)

  • Religious and environmental conflicts

  • Environmental Issues in South Asia

  • 1984 explosion at Bhopal fertilizer plant killed 2,500 people

  • Natural Hazards in Bangladesh

  • Ganges and Brahmaputra river deltas flood in wet summer monsoons; dense settlement there causes many deaths

Environmental Geography: Diverse Landscapes, from Tropical Islands to Mountain Rim, cont.

  • Environmental Issues in South Asia, cont.

  • Forests and Deforestation

  • Causes: agricultural,

urban, and industrial

expansion

  • Fuel wood shortage

leads to use of manure

for heating, rather

than for fertilizer

Environmental Geography: Diverse Landscapes, Tropical Islands to Mountain Rim (cont.)

  • South Asia’s Monsoon Climates

Environmental Geography: Diverse Landscapes, Tropical Islands to Mountain Rim (cont.)

  • Physical Subregions of South Asia

  • Mountains of the North

  • Collision of Indian

Subcontinent with

Asian landmass

  • Indus-Ganges-Brahmaputra

Lowlands

  • Peninsular India

  • Deccan Plateau

  • The Southern Islands

Population and Settlement:
The Demographic Dilemma

  • India has more than 1.1 billion people

  • Concern about producing enough food
  • India’s TFR at 2.9
  • Preference for males creates problems
  • Pakistan has 166 million people

  • Pakistan lacks an effective, coordinated family planning program
  • Overall TFR is 4.6; RNI is 2.4%
  • Linked to Muslim culture
  • Early childhood mortality, and low rate of female contraception
  • Bangladesh has 147 million people

  • Has one of the highest settlement densities in the world
  • TFR is 3.0; RNI is 1.9%
  • Strong government support for family planning
  • Muslim culture, but more flexible

Population
(Fig. 12.9)

Population and Settlement: The Demographic Dilemma (cont.)

  • Migration and the Settlement Landscape

  • South Asia is one of the least urbanized regions of the world

  • Majority live in compact rural villages
  • Rural-to-urban migration caused by agricultural changes
  • Most settlement near fertile soils and dependable water sources

Population and Settlement: The Demographic Dilemma (cont.)

  • Agricultural Regions and Activities

  • Agriculture has historically been unproductive, but food production has outpaced population growth since 1970s

  • Agricultural Regions and Activities

  • Crop Zones

  • Rice: lower Ganges Valley, lowlands of India’s eastern and western coasts, delta lands of Bangladesh, Pakistan’s lower Indus Valley, and Sri Lanka

  • Wheat: northern Indus Valley, western half of Ganges Valley

  • Punjab is India’s “breadbasket”
  • Millet and sorghum in less fertile areas

Population and Settlement: The Demographic Dilemma (cont.)

  • Agricultural Regions and Activities (cont.)

  • The Green Revolution

  • Green Revolution: agricultural techniques based on hybrid crops, heavy use of industrial fertilizers and chemical pesticides

  • Use of hybrid, high-yield seeds to bolster production

  • From 1970 to 1990s: India more than doubled annual grain production (Punjab: “breadbasket”)
  • But with high environmental and social costs

  • Chemical fertilizers and pesticides harm environment
  • Salinization in irrigated areas
  • Poorer farmers forced from their lands
  • Only more prosperous farmers could afford to adopt seeds and use mechanization
  • Bhopal fertilizer factory explosion in 1984 long-term effects

Population and Settlement: The Demographic Dilemma (cont.)

  • Urban South Asia

  • Just 25% of South Asian people live in urban areas

  • Many live in bustees (sprawling squatter settlements)
  • Mumbai (Bombay)

  • Largest city in South Asia, with finance, commerce, industry

  • Less-fortunate live in “hutments: crude shelters built on sidewalks
  • Delhi

  • 11+ million people; India’s capital, British colonial imprint

  • Calcutta (Kolkata)

  • More than 12 million people: poverty,

pollution, congestion, homelessness

  • Karachi

  • More than 7 million people; Pakistan’s largest city

  • Political and ethnic tensions between native Sindis

and Muhajirs (Muslim refugees from India)

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries

  • Since its inception in 1948, India has been a secular state

  • Growth of Hindu nationalism: movement promoting Hindu values as essential and exclusive fabric of Indian society
  • Tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India
  • Tensions between fundamentalists and secularists in Pakistan
  • Origins of South Asian Civilizations

  • Indus Valley civilization established 5,000 years ago

  • By 800 B.C., a new urban focus in Ganges Valley

  • Hindu Civilization

  • Hinduism: a complicated faith without a single, uniformly accepted system of belief

  • Sanskrit: sacred languages of Hinduism

  • Caste system: strict division of Hindu society into ranked hereditary groups

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • Origins of South Asian Civilizations (cont.)

  • Buddhism

  • Siddhartha Gautama (563 B.C.), the Buddha

  • From elite caste, but rejected wealth and power
  • Sought to attain mystical union with the universe (enlightenment)
  • Faith spread throughout South Asia, and East, Southeast, and Central Asia, but retreated from South Asia

  • Arrival of Islam

  • Around 700 A.D. Arab armies conquered lower Indus Valley

  • Mughal Empire, a powerful Muslim state, dominated

  • Conversion in northwest (Pakistan) and Northeast (Bangladesh)

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • Origins of South Asian Civilizations (cont.)

  • The Caste System

  • Regional variations, religious differences in acceptance of caste system

  • Caste: complex social order

  • Varna: ancient fourfold social hierarchy of the Hindu world
  • Jati: refers to local hundreds of local endogamous groups
  • Castes include Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Sudras
  • Scheduled castes or “untouchables” or Dalits

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • Contemporary Geographies of Religion

  • Hinduism

  • Major faith of India and Nepal; worship differs by region

  • Islam

  • 400 million Muslims in the region

  • Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives are mostly Muslim
  • Sikhism

  • Sikhism: faith incorporating elements of Hinduism and Islam

  • Originated in Punjab in 1400s, still concentrated in Punjab

  • Sikh men noted for work as soldiers and bodyguards

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • Contemporary Geographies of Religion (cont.)

  • Buddhism and Jainism

  • Buddhism virtually disappeared in India but persisted in Sri Lanka, mainland Southeast Asia, and the high valleys of the Himalayas

  • Jainism – religion that emerged around 500 B.C. as protest to orthodox Hinduism

  • Stressed extreme non-violence
  • Other Religious Groups

  • Parsis (Zoroastrians): an ancient religion focusing on the cosmic struggle between good and evil

  • Concentrated in the Mumbai area, most prosperous
  • Indian Christians more numerous than either Parsis or Jains

  • British missionaries converted animists to Protestantism

Religion
(Fig. 12.18)

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • Geographies of Language

  • Dravidian: linguistic group unique to southern India

  • Political subdivisions in India follow linguistic lines

  • The Indo-European North

  • Hindi: most widely spoken language of South Asia

  • Second-most widely spoken language in the world
  • Language of the Hindu majority
  • Urdu: language of the Muslim minority

  • Languages of the South

  • Dravidian in southern India and northern Sri Lanka

  • Tamil in Sri Lanka
  • Linguistic Dilemmas

  • Linguistic nationalism: linking of a language with political goals

  • India encountered resistance to Hindi as a national language
  • Role of Hindi is expanding

  • English is the main integrating language in South Asia

Languages
(Fig. 12.20)

Cultural Coherence and Diversity: A Common Heritage Undermined by Religious Rivalries (cont.)

  • South Asians in a Global Cultural Context

  • English helped spread global culture to the region

  • South Asian literature has spread throughout the world

  • Indians migrate to developed and less-developed world regions

  • Imported global culture, especially with sexual content, creates tensions

Geopolitical Framework: A Deeply Divided Region

  • South Asia Before and After Independence in 1947

  • During the 1500s most of region was under the Mughal Empire

  • European merchants established coastal trading posts
  • By 1700s the empire weakened and contending states emerged

  • The British Conquest

  • British East India Company – a private organization acted as an arm of the British government and monopolized trade

  • Exploited political chaos to stake empire
  • Sepoy Mutiny (1856) led to South Asia being ruled directly by the British

  • Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh rulers retained their states under British rule

Geopolitical Framework: A Deeply Divided Region (cont.)

  • South Asia Before and After Independence in 1947 (cont.)

  • Independence and Partition

  • By the 1920s political protestors called for independence

  • Gandhi favored a unified state, while Muslim leaders argued for a division

  • Post World War II partitioning

  • India, East and West Pakistan
  • 1971: Bangladesh independence
  • Geopolitical Structure of India

  • India organized as a federal state, following linguistic patterns
  • Added in 2000: Jharkand, Uttaranchal, and Chhattisgarh

Geopolitical
Issues
(Fig. 12.25)

Geopolitical Change
(Fig. 12.26)

Geopolitical Framework: A Deeply Divided Region (cont.)

  • Ethnic Conflicts in South Asia

  • The Punjab

  • Original Punjab area divided between India and Pakistan in 1947

  • Punjab has Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs

  • Tensions, violence led to assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984

  • Still potential for conflict

  • The Northeast Fringe

  • Ethnic conflict in states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and portions of Assam

  • Migration from Bangladesh and other parts of India is a potential threat to local culture

Geopolitical Framework: A Deeply Divided Region (cont.)

  • Ethnic Conflicts in South Asia, cont.

  • Sri Lanka

  • North dominated by Hindu Tamils (minority) and south by Buddhist Singhalese (majority)

  • Singhalese favor a national

government, while Tamils

support political and cultural

autonomy

  • Tamil Tigers (a rebel force)

attacked Sri Lankan army in 1983;

tensions still brewing

Geopolitical Framework: A Deeply Divided Region (cont.)

  • International and Global Geopolitics

  • Cold war between India and Pakistan

  • Nuclear capabilities of both countries escalated tensions
  • China allied with Pakistan (China-India border conflict)
  • Terrorist attacks of September 11th complicated matters
  • Pakistani had supported Afghanistan’s Taliban regime, now helps U.S.
  • Marxist rebel movement against India in Nepal

Economic and Social Development:
Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty

  • South Asian Poverty

  • More than 800 million Indians live on less than $2/day

  • Bangladesh is poorer; Nepal and Bhutan are in worse condition

  • India has a growing middle class, and an upper class

  • About 150 million Indians afford modern consumer goods
  • Geographies of Economic Development

  • The Himalayan Countries

  • Rugged terrain and isolation in Nepal and Bhutan are a disadvantage

  • Bhutan has isolationist stance (tourists must spend $165/day)

  • Nepal’s tourism has resulted in environmental degradation

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • Geographies of Economic Development

  • Bangladesh

  • Poorest country in the region

  • Heavy reliance on production of commercial crops

  • Environmental degradation has contributed to poverty

  • Internationally competitive in textile and clothing manufacturing

  • Pakistan

  • Inherited a reasonably well-developed urban infrastructure

  • Agriculture, cotton, textile industry are important

  • Less dynamic economy and less potential for growth

  • Burdened by high levels of defense spending

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • Geographies of Economic Development (cont.)

  • Sri Lanka and the Maldives

  • Sri Lanka: second-most highly developed economy in region

  • Exports of agricultural products (rubber and tea) and textiles
  • Civil war has undercut economic progress
  • Maldives is most prosperous country in region, based on GNI

  • Small total economy
  • India’s Lesser Developed Areas

  • India’s economy dwarfs that of other South Asian countries

  • Prosperous west and poorer east

  • Caste tensions exist in these areas

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • Geographies of Economic Development (cont.)

  • India’s Centers of Economic Growth

  • Punjab and Haryana are showcase states of Green Revolution

  • Gujarat and Maharashtra are noted for their industrial and financial clout

  • Many Gujarat merchants and traders were part of Indian diaspora (migration of large numbers of Indians to foreign countries)
  • Karnataka’s capital Bangalore is a growing high-tech center

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • Globalization and India’s Economic Future

  • Globalization is increasing in India

  • Economy based on private ownership combined with government control of planning, resource allocation, and certain heavy industrial sectors
  • Led to low, slow-paced growth
  • 1990s: liberalization of the economy, regulations reduced
  • Produced positive results but generated local opposition

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • Social Development

  • South Asia has low levels of health and education

  • Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra on top; Bihar at the bottom
  • But literacy rates are high in the poor northeast because of missionary education, even though there is poverty
  • The Educated South

  • Sri Lanka has high levels of social welfare

  • Long life expectancy, low literacy rate
  • Fertility rate reduced to near replacement levels
  • Kerala on the mainland, though not prosperous, has best social development in India

  • Socialist leaders promote education and community health care

Economic and Social Development: Rapid Growth and Rampant Poverty, cont.

  • The Status of Women

  • Both Hindu and Muslim traditions tend to limit women

  • In many regions of India, female literacy is far lower than that of male literacy

  • Gender imbalances as a result of “differential neglect”

  • In poorer families, boys tend to receive better and more preferential treatment than girls
  • Social position of women is improving, especially in the more prosperous parts of the north

Conclusions



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