Perspectives Asia #2: More or Less? Growth and Development Debates in Asia
Perspectives Asia is a publication series of the Asia Desk of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung published in cooperation with the offices of the foundation in Asia. With this series, we intend to provide a German and European readership with an understanding of Asian perspectives, as well as an analysis of global trends and greater insights into developments and current political issues across the Asian region. Perspectives Asia focuses mainly on seven countries in East, Southeast and South Asia where the foundation has established offices. These are Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Thailand. In this second issue, our authors report on development issues and alternative development models in Asia. Since the beginning of this millennium, Asia has become the growth engine of the world. Today, Asian economies already generate about 40 percent of global GDP, and the upward trend continues, despite a slowdown of growth in China and India. It is not only economic power that is on the rise; the average per capita income in Asia has tripled since 1990, and the number of people living in poverty has declined by half in the same time period. Nonetheless, two-thirds of the world’s poor live in Asia, and more people suffer from hunger there than anywhere else in the world. The most recent estimates by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) indicate that some 660 million Asians live on less than $1.25 per day. If we include people whose subsistence is under constant threat, then every other person in the region lives on the brink of poverty. Extensive investment in infrastructure, education, and social welfare systems is still necessary almost everywhere in Asia in order to improve the situation for individuals, or to allow people to create and share in the prosperity exemplified by Western societies. How can that money be generated and what effect will that have on global development? Will our planet’s capacity be sufficient to allow the current four billion people in Asia – or the nine billion people expected to populate the Earth by 2050 – to enjoy a life of dignity and without poverty? This magazine provides a forum for the voices of authors from various Asian countries to express their thoughts on possible development models for the region that could achieve prosperity for all, without doing long-term damage to nature or threatening the subsistence of entire populations. Development policies in Asia will have enormous relevance for the rest of the world. This magazine is an invitation to readers to familiarize themselves with the issues under discussion and gain insight into the debates being conducted in the region.