One of the things that first stands out about South Asia is how incredibly varied it is. Though the vast majority of both the land and the population is in India, this certainly doesn’t mean that it is homogenous. Travelling from one state to another often feels like entering a different country, with different languages, different clothing and different food and often very different economic conditions and development needs.
One of the best things about the region is its vibrancy. There is always something new to see, and the colours and noise will both fascinate and exhaust you. Outside of the main tourist areas, local people tend to be incredibly friendly and always willing to help. Culturally, Varanasi, the Taj Mahal at Agra, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Durbar Square’s of Kathmandu and Patan are definitely worth seeing. Over 300 festivals are celebrated each year in India and though many of these are minor or regional, occasions such as Holi and Diwali shouldn’t be missed. Geographically, places like the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, the backwaters of Kerala and the Himalayas in both India and Nepal are must-sees, as are many of the wildlife reserves and national parks spread across the region. Finally, places such as Goa in India and Pokhara in Nepal offer pretty much everything that a tourist could want.
In all 3 countries we work in in South Asia, poverty (and those problems stemming from it) remains by far the biggest development issue. Though India see’s itself, and is seen by much of the rest of the world, as a rapidly industrialising middle income country, over 450 million people still live in extreme poverty. This is more than in sub-Saharan Africa and makes up one-third of the worlds poorest people. An additional 75 million are found in Nepal and Bangladesh.
Education & Environment
Education is severely lacking in many parts of the region, as is healthcare provision. In Bangladesh, half of the country remains functionally illiterate. All 3 countries we work in in South Asia are highly vulnerable to climate change, with Bangladesh, India and Nepal ranked as the 1st, 2nd and 4th most vulnerable countries in the world in the 2011 Climate Change Vulnerability Index. Environmental protection is taking on an increasingly important position, especially in Nepal where so much of the hugely important tourist revenue is based on the country’s environmental assets. There has also been an increasing focus on protecting the wildlife of each country, both for tourism and reasons of national pride.
2Way Development in South Asia
Whatever interests or experience you have, there is always somewhere in South Asia that these skills can be put to good use. We have placements in: