WASHINGTON, DC – South Asia presents a depressing paradox. It is among the fastest growing regions in the world, but it is also home to the largest concentration of people living in debilitating poverty, conflict, and human misery. While South Asia is far more developed than Sub-Saharan Africa, and India (the largest country in the region) has achieved lower middle-income status, South Asia has many more poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa.
This raises the big question of whether the best escape from poverty comes from general economic growth or from a direct attack on poverty. The answer depends on where one looks. Stupendous growth hides deep pockets of poverty. For the countries of South Asia, poverty has morphed from a national to a sub-national problem.