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The Hindu
The Hindu

Serious study of South Asia needed, says Himal Southasian founding editor

Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor, Himal Southasian, on Saturday said that though the idea of South Asia is important, it is not talked about due to the heightened hyper-nationalism.

In a talk titled ‘Beyond Cartography: A Journalist’s Discovery of South Asia’ at Roja Muthiah Research Library in Taramani, he spoke about how scholars stepped away from considering the future of subcontinent.

“When you start proposing South Asia as a concept, it is targeted immediately. In these days of heightened hyper-nationalism, somebody who talks about South Asia, including a scholar, might be considered anti-national. This is enough to keep scholars from evaluating the idea of South Asia in terms of how it may be useful to consider a future of the subcontinent,” he said.

He said the economies of South Asia were not rationalised. “Because partition happened one fine day.... what you got is the inability to reach the hinterland for production,” he said.

Describing himself as a journalist and a bit of an activist, he said, “It is a topic that is important but it is not talked about. There is an incongruity. We are fourth of the world’s population, we are divided by nation-state boundaries and we are getting ever more shrill in our nationalism while we forget about social and economic advance about our people. Yet our scholars are silent to talk about this aspect.”

Mr. Dixit said that while scholars focused on topics such as co-operatives, capitalist systems, devolution of power within states, any attempt to look at South Asia as a whole was still considered a taboo. “I have a plea for all the scholars from all parts of South Asia, including India and especially South India, to begin a serious study of idea of South Asian regionalism, which is a neglected area,” he said.

So many social issues bound South Asians together. For example, vector diseases. “Take the Covid-19 epidemic, how much South Asia would benefit if there are cross border collaborations or if malaria is studied across the borders or the burgeoning modern day diseases – there is none or almost none of that happening. There is enormous loss of social interactions,” he pointed out.

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