La otra Asia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – El Asia meridional presenta una paradoja deprimente. Figura entre las regiones del mundo que más rápìdamente crecen, pero alberga también la mayor concentración de población que vive con pobreza, conflictos y miseria humana debilitantes. Mientras que el Asia meridional está mucho más desarrollada que el África subsahariana y la India (el país más grande de la región) ha logrado una renta media baja, el Asia meridional tiene muchos más pobres que el África subsahariana.

Así se plantea la cuestión de si la mejor forma de escapar de la pobreza es el crecimiento económico general o la lucha directa contra la pobreza. La respuesta depende de adónde miremos. Un crecimiento impresionante oculta bolsas profundas de pobreza. En el caso de los países del Asia meridional, la pobreza ha pasado de problema nacional a problema subnacional.

Aunque el crecimiento económico ha reducido la tasa de pobreza del Asia meridional, no lo ha hecho lo bastante rápidamente para reducir el número total de pobres. El número de personas que viven con menos de 1,25 dólares al día aumentó de 549 millones en 1981 a 595 en 2005. En la India, que representa casi tres cuartas partes de esa población, las cifras aumentaron de 420 millones a 455 millones durante ese período. Además del lento avance de la reducción de la pobreza, tampoco el desarrollo humano ha ido a la par del aumento de la renta.

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