New Delhi: Conflict and security issues in the South Asian region have impeded the pace of poverty reduction and improvement in human development, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday.
Unequal access to productive resources as well as massive inefficiency and inequities in the "system of governance practised" are probably important factors in explaining a discrepancy between growth and poverty reduction in the South Asian region, he said.
"Conflict and security have also loomed large in this region posing a constant challenge to a common developmental agenda. Without a satisfactory resolution to the different intra and international conflicts which plague this region, the goals of inclusive development cannot be realised," he said.
Singh was speaking at the conference organised by South Asian University here.
He said in spite of the robust economic growth achieved by the individual countries as well as the region as a whole, South Asia still has the largest concentration of poor, uneducated and ill-educated people in the world.
Singh further said that most discussions on the economies of the region have focused on barriers to growth including inadequate intra-regional trade, lack of physical connectivity across the region and massive energy deficit.
"While the thrust on the means to generate accelerated growth is quite legitimate, we do need to go beyond it and ask why significant growth in the South Asian countries in the recent past has not translated into rapid poverty reduction and improvement in human development of majority of the population," he said.
Singh recalled that way back in November 2005 during a 13th SAARC meeting he had mooted the creation of South Asian University.
Renowned economist Jean Dreze said in his key note address that on several social parameters India lags behind South Asian countries like Bangladesh and Nepal despite having 25 years of "run away" growth.
Reduction in poverty in India has not kept pace with rate of growth and the one of the reasons for that is social inequality, he added.
Dreze is Visiting Professor at University of Ranchi and Honorary Professor at Delhi School of Economics.