Friday, March 6, 2009

Winds of change

Winds of change are taking place across the South Asian region. After thirty years in government President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was defeated by young freedom activist who was kept in prison by the pervious regime. Widower of late Benazir Buttho, Asif All Zardari was elected to the post of President in Pakistan after sudden and unexpected step down by the President Parvesh Musharaf. Mountainous challenges are ahead of President Zardari of which the foremost is to restore the democracy and rule of law in the country. Bangladesh just elected a new prime minister after going through a struggle to combat with corruption, and bad governance though the democratic process in is danger to some extent due to continues postponement of the general election. Long lasted monarch came to an end in Nepal paving the way for one time militant leader Prachanda to obtain a massive landslide election victory and become the Prime Minister of the country. The immediate challenge for new Nepali government is to draft a constitution with democratic values and norms in order to take the poverty stricken country towards development. Though India and Sri Lanka have democratically elected regimes, both countries are struggling to combat with the elements of bad governance, terrorism, rule of law and democracy.

Apart from those mentioned changes, a daunting challenge is imposed by the global economic crisis in South Asian Region, which affects not only the economic stability, but also to the very foundation of the steadily growing democracies in the region. The high fuel costs, soaring commodity prices together with fears of global recession are destabilizing the economies of the region. Unlike the west, South Asian countries has not suffered subprime mortgage crisis which caused the downfall of many financial institutions in west. The rapid growth and wealth creation in recent years lead to enormous foreign investment in South Asia, mostly from the West. Wherefore, this region as in the rest of Asia is vulnerably exposed to the problems stemming from West in this global economic crisis. Under this circumstance, many argue the failure of the capitalism and open market economy is the main cause for the projecting this global crisis and came up with various alternative systems to address the issue. Among these arguments, the two prominent arguments are

i. Chinese model economic system where economic development is dominated over democracy and other social requirements. In this aspect, they state that the influence of US is losing as she happened to be the most vulnerable country in the crisis, and the voice and muscles of the china will dominate the formation of the new global economic order to address the crisis.
ii. Chavez model, nationalization of the property and industries and central control over everything.

As mention above, the South Asian society is in a transition process toward democracy with many years of struggle to achieve it. The vulnerability of gaining popularity of those two socialist backed arguments is still prevail in South Asia, as already socialist backed nationalist elements are in the governments in Sri Lanka, Nepal. Therefore, the coming years could be really decisive for the shaping of South Asian politics, its future and also its position in the world affairs which is unprecedented than before.
By Thushara Rajasinghe