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Economy

In South Asia, the time has come for border economic zones

Frontier areas need help to overcome constraints on economic progress

| India
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Passengers ride on a cart as they arrive from India, at the Nepalese-Indian border.   © Reuters

In South Asia, connectivity is seen as the prerogative of capital cities, ignoring people who live in border areas. Instead of finding ways of improving connectivity throughout the region, summits of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation usually focus on whether the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers will shake hands, followed by a debate on their body language when they do.

At a recent conference in New Delhi on South Asian connectivity, I found myself wondering whether there are better ways to push connectivity on a people-to-people basis -- a way that would have a real and positive economic impact for the millions living in border areas that were too often imposed in great haste by colonial or post-colonial powers.

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