Reshaping Tomorrow: Is South Asia Ready for the Big Leap?

South Asian Journal of Global Business Research

ISSN: 2045-4457

Article publication date: 17 August 2012



March, R. (2012), "Reshaping Tomorrow: Is South Asia Ready for the Big Leap?", South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 311-313.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

In Reshaping Tomorrow: Is South Asia Ready for the Big Leap? editor Ejaz Ghani and contributing commentators succeed in synthesizing and interpreting empirical evidence from economic, demographic, public policy and regional and global conflict paradigms to depict South Asian development through to 2025. Adopting a balanced approach to the examination of South Asian sustainable growth and development, the work cites encouraging and adverse components of an intricate nexus among global, regional and local economic and public policies to explicate present strengths and weaknesses, while illuminating areas requiring improvement and offering global policy makers advice on formulating and instituting policies essential for driving sustainable growth in South Asia. Although South Asia constitutes the topical focus of the work, the link forged in the book between South Asia and rest of the world overtly recognizes the dynamic complexity of contemporary modernization in a globalized context. The work arguably engages a relatively broad readership, including scholars, practitioners and students of economics, public policy and sustainable growth and development in a South Asian context, but further, beyond this cohort, western business executives and government officials should find a relevant analysis of global forces with which they will contend in the years ahead. Certainly, the readability of the work and its sound analysis brands it as a key resource for experts and neophytes in the fields of economic development and public policy.

Emphasizing the complexity inherent in fostering sustainable growth and development in South Asia from theoretical and operational perspectives, the work defies reductionist, myopic approaches to addressing challenges that belie South Asia in its quest for modernization. Indeed, as noted repeatedly throughout the book by various commentators, there exists no single approach or solution to managing and mitigating the challenges facing South Asia, including inequality in wealth distribution and job opportunities, infrastructure concerns, capital flows and regional conflict. Rather, the commentary collectively focusses on the need for interventions at local, regional, state, trans‐national and global levels as a means of driving sustainable growth. The multi‐level and multi‐paradigmatic analysis brought to bear on South Asian sustainable growth arguably constitutes the greatest strength of the work.

Presenting a bifurcated analysis, the first half of the book considers indicators of optimism for growth in South Asia primarily from demographic, economic and migration perspectives, utilizing an analytical framework characterized by blending empirical economic and demographic data on South Asia and western countries with a discussion of theoretical and practical implications for economists, business executives and policy makers. Of particular interest in the first section of the book within the context of changing demographics and subsequent impacts on the economies of western nations, is the revelation of the seminal global role South Asia might play as the aging, declining west is replaced by a vibrant South Asian labor force, upon which it may come to heavily rely. The second part of the book, utilizing the same analytic framework as the first, examines the challenges facing the region and the world, in the context of work required to transcend current economic inequality in South Asia, to create sustainable job growth and formal employment opportunities, to urbanize South Asian cities, to attract and support business development and growth and to manage and mitigate present local and regional conflict that undermines economic development and the stable business environment required for global investment in the region.

In adopting a multi‐level, multi‐paradigmatic approach to examining South Asian growth and development, the work answers calls from scholars such as Henderson et al. (2002, p. 436), who note that “the analysis of economic development has been bedeviled by a series of analytic disjunctions that have resulted in work either at macro or meso levels of abstraction, or, where empirical investigations have probed micro level processes, the larger analytic picture has often been absent, merely implicit, or at best weakly developed.” By adopting a holistic approach to the analysis of South Asian development from a paradigmatic and analytic‐level standpoint and by transcending a strict economic focus and considering human and educational development, infrastructure issues, conflict and demographics relevant to South Asian development, Ghani's (2011) work avoids the circumscription to which Henderson et al. (2002) allude.

Concentrating heavily on India as the powerhouse driving much of the present and forecasted development in the region, the commentators concretely move throughout the book among macro‐, meso‐ and micro‐levels of analysis, while intricately weaving analysis and implication among economic, demographic and public policy paradigms. Indeed, the comprehensiveness of the analysis provided in the work fills important gaps in previous economic development scholarship noted by Henderson et al. (2002, p. 438), who observe, “in order to understand the dynamics of development in a given place, then, we must comprehend how places are being transformed by flows of capital, labor, knowledge, power, etc. and how, at the same time, places (or more specifically their institutional and social fabrics) are transforming those flows as they locate in place‐specific domains.” Containing chapters focussed upon each of the key features Henderson et al. (2002) mention, Ghani's (2011) collective work, but in particular, the commentary contained therein on India, makes explicit the global link between localized changes occurring in India and the surrounding region and their impacts on the globe, in addition to global changes, particularly in the west and their impacts on India. As a result, the work captures the essence of globalization and the butterfly effect inherent therein.

As is true of any work which attempts to forecast future trends in economic growth, the analysis, while comprehensive and balanced, is fundamentally limited by the unpredictability of the multitude of shifting variables which underpin it. Beyond this obvious critique, the reader is left, to some degree, to speculate on the specific nature of how international and domestic firms might successfully base operations in South Asia and in particular, in India, to promote and drive sustainable growth by 2025. Specifically, as the commentators identify through the work, India is in need of much policy reform, infrastructure development and a more equitable distribution of wealth throughout the nation. Policy reform on the magnitude required to promote growth and attract global firms, however, as several commentators note, will require a concomitant shift in thinking and possible abandonment of traditional life in India. While the contributing authors suggest a variety of ways in which such a shift might be accomplished, both at local and global levels, a key question not overtly addressed in the work is that of the readiness of the publics within and outside of South Asia to embrace the required policy changes to drive South Asian development, not merely for the benefit of South Asia, but for the benefit of developed countries, as well.

A key component of gauging the extent of this inclination may well lie not only in nations’ willingness to openly adopt policies pertinent to driving South Asian development, but in the extent to which firms assess South Asia as a region worthy of investment. Reflecting on the ideal of global economic development and prosperity, Henderson et al. (2002, p. 438) argue, “if the object of our endeavors is the possibilities for economic development and prosperity, then we should recognize that in order to speak authoritatively on these issues, we need to study what firms do, where they do it, why they are allowed to do it and how they organize the doing of it across different geographic scales.” While Ghani's (2011) work specifically critiques present South Asian and western public policy and provides recommendations for augmentations and reconceptualizations of such policies, the reader is left to question how feasible vast changes in public policy are within the relatively short time between present day and 2025; furthermore, at the level of the firm, given that no single approach will solve the challenges facing South Asia, the question necessarily arises: how many changes and which specific changes should take precedence in order to accelerate economic growth in the region? Absent such an analysis, the reader is compelled to wonder whether the grand visions for South Asia presented in this work are feasible and achievable given the relatively short span of time between today and 2025.

Accordingly, while Ghani's (2011) work provides a robust study of the driving and restraining forces of economic development in South Asia, grounded in strong empirical data and sound interpretations and while it shatters previous work in the field of economic development characterized by analyses circumscribed by a single paradigm or level of analysis, the work also raises questions for future investigation; for example, to what extent South Asian and western publics are willing to embrace significant changes in public policy and a stark departure from the status quo and to what extent these major shifts in public policy are feasible by 2025.

Richard March

About the reviewer

Richard March received a BA with honors in German from Franklin & Marshall College and an MA with distinction in German and Second Language Acquisition from Georgetown University. He is presently pursuing a doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning at The George Washington University. His present research interests include antecedents and consequences of leader and organizational goodness and toxicity at local and global levels, the psychology of positive organizational scholarship, antecedents of organizational trust, and cognitive issues in adult language acquisition and curriculum design. He is an active PMP, CSSBB, CQA and CMQ/OE. Richard March can be contacted at:


Ghani, E. (Ed.) (2011), Reshaping Tomorrow: Is South Asia Ready for the Big Leap? Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

Henderson, J., Dicken, P., Hess, M., Coe, N. and Yeung, H.W.‐C. (2002), “Global production networks and the analysis of economic development”, Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 43664.

Related articles