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Innovation, Human Rights and Feasibility: Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia.

Date: 27 May 2014

South Asia has seen fairly robust macroeconomic growth over the past 20 years, but the majority of people have not benefited much: 60 to 80% of the population still lives under the $2 per day poverty line. Women, disadvantaged castes, ethnic and religious minorities are systematically marginalized in terms of human development outcomes.

This persistent poverty, inequality and social exclusion alongside new political dynamics form the backdrop for social policy changes observed in many South Asian countries, beginning in India in 2004, and continuing into the early 2010s across Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Is there a common set of ideas and norms underlying development and welfare policy in South Asia? Is there a common political economy? Is a South Asian version of a developmental welfare state emerging?

In this seminar Gabriele Koehler will present highlights and insights from her recent book, co-edited with Deepta Chopra. There is good news—new forms of social policy in South Asia—but also many inherent structural faults and failures. The contours of a South Asian developmental welfare state might be creating opportunities to alter the social contract in a more progressive direction, but fall far short of their stated intent.

The volume is the first to systematically compile, map and analyse policies across the South Asia region, in the areas of education, health, social protection and social inclusion. It relates them to processes and politics of change in the region. As such, the seminar will be of interest to both policy shapers and analysts of social and economic development.

"Fascinating reading for all those who still believe in the welfare state and perhaps a source of second thought for those who do not." — Michael Cichon, President, ICSW

Speaker: Gabriele Koehler, a macroeconomist, policy advisor, researcher and publicist, is a former senior development economist at the UN, and currently a visiting fellow at UNRISD.

Book reference: Gabriele Koehler and Deepta Chopra (eds.), Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia, Preface by Naila Kabeer, 248 pp, London: Routledge, 2014.

Photo by the Trinity Care Foundation via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


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