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CHAPTER EIGHT South Asia I. THE GEOGRAPHIC SETTING A. Physical Patterns Landforms The Himalayan mountain range is the dramatic result of two tectonic plates colliding. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • South Asia

  • Landforms
  • The Himalayan mountain range is the dramatic
    result of two tectonic plates colliding.
  • River valleys and coastal zones are densely
    occupied the uplands are slightly less dense.

Physical Patterns
  • Climate
  • The end of the dry season (April and May) is
    cruel. Temperatures in the shade are often above
    100 degrees, the soil is parched, tornadoes wreak
    havoc, and hunger is widespread.
  • From mid-June to the end of October, monsoon
    rains cause low clouds, swollen rivers, and
    flooded villages. This moisture is the result of
    cooler, moisture-laden air moving from the ocean
    over the land.
  • By November, cool, dry air pushes warm, wet air
    back to the Indian Ocean.
  • Monsoon rains feed the Ganga, Brahmaputra, and
    Indus rivers. They actively wear down the
    Himalayas, carrying silt, which is deposited and
    redeposited by successive floods. Agriculture is
    adapted to the ever changing landscape.

B. Human Patterns Over Time
  • A high level of cultural diversity exists in this
    region, making it one of the most politically
    contentious places in the world.

Human Patterns over Time
  • The Indus Valley Civilization
  • The Indus Valley civilization, which appeared
    about 4500 years ago, is the foundation of modern
    South Asian religious beliefs, social
    organizations, linguistic diversity, and cultural
  • Architecture and urban design were quite
    advanced, a large trade network and unique
    writing system existed, and much of the
    civilizations agricultural system still survives

Human Patterns over Time
  • A Series of Invasions
  • The first recorded invaders were the Aryas who,
    along with the indigenous Harappa culture, are
    believed to have influenced the caste system,
    which divides society into a hierarchy of greatly
    varying status. Although it is weakening, a
    person is traditionally born to a caste, which
    affects nearly all aspects of ones life.
  • Islamic invaders, including the Mughals, left
    many legacies on the landscape, including the
    more than 420 million Muslims now living in South

Human Patterns Over Time
  • The Legacies of Colonial Rule
  • The most recent influential invader was Great
    Britain. Even countries not ruled by the British
    felt their influence.

Human Patterns Over Time
  • Economic Influence
  • The British used the regions resources for their
    own benefit, often to the detriment of South
    Asia. What little development took place in the
    region was allowed only if it benefited Britain.
  • British industries often replaced South Asian
    industries, forcing citizens to find work as
    landless laborers others migrated to emerging
  • It is argued that British influence encouraged
    population growth because people had more
    children for farm labor and protection from
    destitution in old age.
  • Benefits of colonization included the expansion
    of trade and prosperity, rail transportation,
    English as a common language, and the
    introduction of democratic governments.

Human Patterns Over Time
  • Partition and Independence
  • The most damaging and enduring outcome of
    colonization was the partition of India into
    Pakistan (predominantly Muslim) and India
    (predominantly Hindu). Fearing persecution,
    millions migrated, causing families and
    communities to be divided and up to a million
    people killed.

Human Patterns Over Time
  • Since Independence
  • Democracy has expanded steadily, disadvantaged
    groups are less marginalized, agricultural
    advances have brought prosperity, and educated
    Indians have benefited from the growth in
    information technology.
  • However, the region still suffers from low levels
    of economic development, and threats of violence
    from within are growing. South Asia is one of the
    poorest and potentially one of the most unstable

C. Population Patterns
  • South Asia is densely populated and still
    growing. As a result, migrants from the
    countryside flood cities. Rapid population growth
    strains efforts to improve quality of life.
  • Food production is keeping close pace with
    population growth as a result of high-tech
    agriculture. However, this type of agriculture
    may not be sustainable because of high costs and
    environmental effects.
  • Population is continuing to grow because a huge
    portion of the population is in the early
    reproductive years and poor, uneducated families
    see children as their only source of wealth. In
    addition, a premium on sons means that parents
    have more children to make sure they have sons.

Population Patterns
  • In Sri Lanka, fertility is declining because of
    education for women and development policies
    aimed at more egalitarian wealth distribution.
  • In the Indian state of Kerala, the entire
    population is better educated and health care is
    emphasized. Contraception is more widely used.

Political Issues
  • Economic Issues
  • South Asia is a region of startling economic
    contrasts, resulting from the propensity of South
    Asian economies to favor the interests of a
    privileged minority over those of the poor

Economic and Political Issues
  • Agriculture and the Green Revolution
  • Until recently, agriculture remained mainly based
    on traditional small-scale systems however,
    these subsistence systems did not produce enough
    for growing cities.
  • In the late 1960s, the Green Revolution boosted
    grain harvests through the use of fertilizers,
    new seeds, mechanization, irrigation, and
    pesticides. Some countries became self-sufficient
    in crops and are even exporting.
  • However, those who needed it most are not the
    ones who prospered. Only farmers who can afford
    the new technologies are benefiting, while others
    are often forced off their land.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Agriculture and the Green Revolution
  • Environmental damage was created and green
    revolution technologies inadvertently reduced the
    utility of many crops for the rural poor.
  • However, agroecology is a potential remedy for
    some of these problems. Agroecology is not
    disadvantageous to poor farmers because it
    reduces soil erosion and loss of soil fertility.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Industry over Agriculture A Vision of
  • Agriculture was neglected after independence
    because of the conclusion that it was incapable
    of supplying the growth and innovation poor
    countries needed.
  • South Asian leaders took over industries they
    believed would foster a strong economy. There was
    impressive growth initially however, it was
    ill-suited for countries that had been primarily

Economic and Political Issues
  • Economic Reform Achieving Global Competitiveness
  • SAPs have increased productivity in the export
    and industry sectors however, they are producing
    a wider disparity in income, as most gains are
    confined to the middle class, while rural poverty
    has increased.
  • The service economy has been expanding. Although
    only 20 to 40 percent of its workforce is in
    services, it accounts for over 50 percent of GDP.
    The service sector is seen as having the best
    chance of competing in the global economy.
  • A number of pharmaceutical and high tech American
    jobs are being outsourced to India, which has a
    large, college-educated, low-cost workforce.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Differing Views of Globalization
  • Some desire global connection to the marketplace
    because it is expected to increase the number of
    high-paying jobs, fuel local production, and
    reduce isolation.
  • Others fear globalization because it may
    negatively affect the environment or cause a
    breakdown of traditional social and economic

Economic and Political Issues
  • Economic Development and Poverty Rates
  • Despite all the policy efforts that have reduced
    poverty over the years, population growth has
    outstripped economic growth. Even as poverty
    continues to decline, there are more poor people
    now than there were 50 years ago, simply because
    there are more people overall.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Innovative Help for the Poor
  • Microcredit makes small loans available to poor
    entrepreneurs who have little collateral. Lending
    to them seems risky, but this is overcome by
    arranging potential borrowers into groups that
    are responsible, as a whole, for paying back the

Economic and Political Issues
  • Political Issues
  • Democracy has resolved many conflicts and
    nurtured public debate however, there is tension
    because of corruption, demagogic leadership, and

Economic and Political Issues
  • Caste and Democracy
  • Caste has been a defining yet contradictory
    factor in local and national politics the role
    of caste in politics seems to be increasing. It
    has been absorbed into the political system in
    ways that create and maintain tension.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Religious Nationalism
  • Many people frustrated with inefficiency and
    corruption are joining religious nationalist
    movements because they see them as purifying
    sources of morality.
  • Religious nationalism is the belief that a
    particular religion is strongly connected to a
    territory, even to the exclusion of other
  • Unfortunately, this movement has brought on
    conflicts that threaten overall peace.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Regional Political Conflicts
  • The most intense armed conflicts occur when a
    regional ethnic or religious minority actively
    resists the authority of national governments.
    These conflicts have a high potential to
    destabilize the region.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Conflict in Punjab
  • The Sikh community is longing for greater
    autonomy and recognition of its distinct
    religious and ethnic identity.
  • Tensions between Sikhs and Hindus developed over
    access to water and land and the control of
    religious sites.

Economic and Political Issues
  • Conflict in Kashmir
  • Conflict between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir
    dates back to British rule before partition in
  • India and Pakistan are technically still waiting
    for a UN decision on where the final border
    between the two countries will be.
  • Conflict has centered around the right of
    Kashmiris to elect their own state leaders.
  • Civil war has erupted repeatedly and sporadic
    fighting continues along the boundary line. Both
    India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons.

Economic and Political Issues
  • War and Reconstruction in Afghanistan
  • Urban elites (aligned with the Soviets) were
    defeated by rural conservative religious leaders
    (mujahedeen) who were threatened by the elites
    industrial and democratic reforms.
  • The Taliban, a radical religious-political-militar
    y movement, emerged from the mujahedeen, enforced
    sharia, and attempted to rid their society of
    non-Muslim influences. By 2001, they controlled
    95 percent of the country.
  • The events of September 11, 2001, and the
    response from the United States, assisted the
    Northern Alliance resistance movement in
    overthrowing the Taliban.
  • Although they face a considerable amount of
    postwar reconstruction and the challenges of
    diversity and disparity, Afghanistan has since
    held elections, making a significant step toward
    a democratic society.

Economic and Political Issues
  • The Future of Democracy
  • Signs that democracy is on the rise include
    competitive multiparty arenas, voters who are
    less tolerant of corruption and violence, more
    peaceful and fair elections, and more
    opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

  • Village Life
  • About 70 percent live in villages the village
    way of life unites the region.
  • Large cities are even comprised of thousands of
    compacted, reconstituted villages.

B. Sociocultural Issues
  • Joypur
  • This village in the Ganga Delta is sleepy during
    the day as children play and women talk in the
    seclusion of their courtyards, but the village
    comes to life at dusk after the men return from
    the fields and settle in to talk.
  • Ahraura
  • Women live in seclusion in their extended family
    settings, while the men are off tending to the

B. Sociocultural Issues
  • Language and Ethnicity
  • In South Asia, everyone is a minority. Many of
    the distinct ethnic groups in this region have
    their own language 18 languages are officially
    recognized in India alone. No Indian language is
    the first language of the majority.
  • The complexity in this region is the result of
    multiple invasions from outside, the movement of
    people, and long periods of isolation.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Religion
  • Hinduism
  • Eight-hundred million of the worlds 900 million
    practicing Hindus reside in India.
  • Hinduism is a complex belief system with a broad
    range of beliefs and practices, as notions of
    divinity are quite flexible. Nonetheless, almost
    all Hindus believe in reincarnation and
    participate in the caste system.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Geographic Patterns in Religious Beliefs
  • Hindus are found mostly in India the Ganga River
    plain is considered the hearth of Hinduism.
  • Buddhisms origins are in northern India and it
    has spread to eastern and southeastern Asia. Only
    1 percent of the regions population is Buddhist,
    but they form the majority in Bhutan and Sri
  • Muslims form the majority in Afghanistan,
    Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives they are
    an important minority in India.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Geographic Patterns in Religious Beliefs
  • Sikhs inspired by Hindu as well as Islamic
    ideas live mainly in Punjab in northwest India.
    More live in diaspora communities than in India
  • Those who follow the tradition of Jainism are
    found mainly in western India and in large urban
    centers. They are known for their nonviolence and
  • Parsis are a highly visible minority in Indias
    western cities.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Geographic Patterns in Religious Beliefs
  • Christians are an important minority along the
    west coast of India. In some places in northeast
    India, more than half the descendants of the
    ancient aboriginal inhabitants are Christian.
  • Small communities of Jews are found along the
    Malabar Coast and in major cities.
  • Animism is practiced throughout South Asia,
    especially in central and northeastern India
    where ancient aboriginal inhabitants still live.

Sociocultural Issues
  • The Hindu-Muslim Relationship
  • The various religious traditions in this region
    have deeply affected one another thus, the
    political and social dynamics between Hindus and
    Muslims are complex.
  • In the upper echelons of society, Hindus and
    Muslims often share social space however, in
    other particularly rural areas, Hindus have been
    known to regard Muslims as members of a
    low-status caste. This us-and-them attitude
    could disintegrate into communal conflict.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Caste
  • The caste system is primarily associated with
    Hindu India. One is born into a given subcaste
    (jati) this subcaste defines where one will
    live, where and what one can eat or drink, with
    whom one will associate, ones marriage partner,
    and ones livelihood.
  • The jatis are often associated with a certain
    place thus, they are segregated into distinct
  • Although familiarity and cohesion within jatis
    and attachment to place help to explain the
    persistence of this system, caste is disappearing
    where people are able to separate themselves from
    their villages, occupations, and jati-related
  • Mohandas Gandhi began an official effort to
    eliminate the caste system. India then began an
    affirmative action program, reserving government
    jobs, higher education spaces, and parliamentary
    seats for lower castes.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Geographic Patterns in the Status of Women
  • The overall status of women in South Asia is
    extraordinarily low however, their relative
    well-being varies across region, caste, religion,
    class, and age
  • Purdah is the practice of concealing women from
    nonfamily men. This practice is more common in
    rural areas where Islam is practiced. It is less
    prevalent with adivasis (native people) and in
    larger cities, especially among upper-caste
    women. However, purdah is sometimes a mark of
    prestige, because the ability to seclude women
    signifies wealth.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Bride Burning and Female Infanticide
  • A bride price is paid by the groom to the brides
    family. On the other hand, a dowry was common in
    upper castes where women observed purdah because
    women were seen as burdens to be unloaded.
  • Bride burning or dowry killing enables the
    widower to marry again and collect another dowry,
    or the threat of it enables the groom to extort
    further dowry from a wifes family.
  • Female infanticide can result when poor families
    have daughters they are crippled by the dowries
    they must pay and may choose to poison them soon
    after birth.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Education and the Status of Women
  • Freeing women from confinement encourages lower
    fertility, and allows women to improve the
    educational attainment of themselves and their
    children and the nutrition of their families.

Sociocultural Issues
  • Gender Equality at the Village Level and Beyond
  • A strong activist movement in India has led to
    more enthusiastic enforcement of constitutional
  • In the 1980s, panchayati raj (village government)
    was introduced to encourage gender equality in
    village life.
  • In Indian cities, the number of professional
    women is growing.
  • India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan have
    all had female heads of state.

  • Deforestation
  • Local women in South Asia took a dramatic step to
    protect environmental quality. Their actions grew
    into the Chipko movement, which has slowed
    deforestation and increased ecological awareness.
  • However, deforestation is not new to South Asia,
    as early agricultural expansion, the expansion of
    new Hindu kingdoms, and developments during
    British colonialism all contributed to
  • Resources are often channeled into urban
    industries without considering the needs of local
    people. Thus, some argue that the management of
    forests should be turned over to local
  • However, these local populations carry out much
    of the deforestation themselves for firewood and
    animal fodder. Their need for employment and
    survival supersedes their attempts at

Environmental Issues
  • Water Issues
  • Conflict over Ganga River Water
  • India and Bangladesh are battling over access to
    the Ganga River. India has diverted 60 percent of
    it. In Bangladesh, less water is available for
    irrigation, salt water is penetrating inland, and
    the coastline is changing.
  • A solution is difficult because the affected
    population is rural, poor, and is located in a
    different region than the politicians.

Environmental Issues
  • Conflict over Dams
  • Hydroelectric dams are planned for many of
    Indias rivers to supply the increasing demand
    for electricity as the regions industry and
    technology modernize. Farmers also stand to
    benefit from irrigation waters.
  • The building of hydroelectric dams is forcing
    many people to relocate. They are promised equal
    or better land, but many end up facing starvation.

Environmental Issues
  • Water Purity of the Ganga River
  • Water purity is another issue millions of
    people each year are cremated and have their
    ashes scattered over the Ganga River. The
    government is making successful efforts to reduce
    levels of unburned human remains in the river.
  • Of greater concern is the industrial waste and
    sewage dumped into the river. Unconventional
    methods use Indias heat and monsoons to help
    clean the water.

Environmental Issues
  • Industrial Pollution
  • Emissions from vehicles and industry are so bad
    that breathing Delhis air is like smoking 20
    cigarettes a day.
  • Acid rain is destroying farmland and monuments,
    including the Taj Mahal.
  • The Indian government, however, has launched an
    ambitious campaign to clean up poorly regulated

  • GDP is very low however, South Asians practice
    frugality and resourcefulness in order to
    survive, thus giving themselves a somewhat higher
    standard of living than GDP figures indicate.
  • HDI rankings have advanced to the lowest ranks in
    the medium range, which is an accomplishment
    because of the huge population involved. However,
    the number of poor people is still staggering and
    it is likely that the gap between rich and poor
    will grow.