Skip to Main Navigation

Why #OneSouthAsia?

People-to-people activities advance regionalism in South Asia

Music, mountains, and markets are some of the interests that bring South Asians together despite significant barriers.

Read the blog Read the series

Good Neighbours

The Good Neighbours series showcases successful cross-border stories that promote understanding, trust, and people-to-people contacts. Regional cooperation is not easy. It requires vision. It also demands innovation, and above all, perseverance, to bring together people, businesses, and nations. The Good Neighbours stories are as diverse as South Asia. We present them as inspiration and optimism about the spirit of #OneSouthAsia.

The World Bank’s Regional Integration, Cooperation and Engagement (RICE) approach supports transboundary work in South Asia to advance economic connectivity, climate resilience, and human development.

The 10 Case Studies

The 10 Good Neighbours stories that we present are as diverse as the region they represent. We call them case studies with the hope they will be studied, understood, replicated and eventually scaled up across the region.

1The first case study describes success in cross-border business collaboration between India and Nepal and makes the case for the potential to scale-up Indian investments in Nepal, particularly in the manufacturing sector. It argues that three pre-conditions appear to matter – first, a deliberate policy effort by both countries to retain the openings created by liberal trade regimes of the 1990s, second, the ability to capture quality-driven consumers across the border and, third, the ability to increase and leverage domestic market share to hedge against policy instability in international trade.

2The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a unique regional institution, based in Kathmandu that has on its board eight Himalayan nations – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. It has managed not only to function but grow in 35 years and lead a massive network of research organizationsacross these eight countries, coordinating and disseminating crucial scientific evidence on the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change. It’s experience highlights the importance of a distinctly apolitical outlook focused on technological application and rational policy planning.

3Our third case study covers cross-border medical cooperation in South Asia, focusing on the Charali snakebite treatment center that provides critical and timely treatment against a tropical disease that primarily bites at the health of South Asia’s rural populations, and Fortis Healthcare that uses its size, reach and medical proficiency to provide quality care to people across the region. These are by no means the only examples of cross-border medical cooperation in South Asia. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, reciprocity between South Asian countries in providing health assistance helped protect millions in the region, evincing how a readiness to go to one’s neighbours in times of need and an inclinationto take care of one another can build much camaraderie, trust and appreciation between South Asians.

4. South Asia’s vulnerability to climate change -related disasters cannot be overstated. The fourth case study elaborates a successful collaboration that has involved climate researchers at the Foundation for Environment, Climate and Technology (FECT), a non-profit research institute in Sri Lanka, working closely with Maldivian scientists, environment officials, resource managers and educators for years. The institute’s multi-disciplinary approach brings together experts in meteorology, hydrology and oceanography to study climate-change trends and how these impact the northern Indian Ocean region covering Sri Lanka and Maldives, and, in some cases, all of South Asia.

5. Taboos and myths around menstruation cross borders in South Asia. Some degree of period poverty—a lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and waste management—is relatively common across South Asia. Women and girls in these countries occupy distinct landscapes, eat different food, speak different languages, follow different faiths, and yet share common experiences when it comes to their periods. Our fifth case study tell the inspirational story of how an Indian social entrepreneur built one of the world’s first low-cost machines to produce sanitary towels, and how his simple invention inspired an ongoing partnership between India and Sri Lanka that will soon expand to Nepal and Afghanistan.

6.  Political wrangling often eclipses efforts aimed at strengthening ties between India and Pakistan, but little in recent times speaks to the triumph of goodwill between the two countries like the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, a passage that connects India to one of the holiest Sikh worship sites in Pakistan. Our sixth case study documents how the coming together of families, friends, acquaintances and even strangers via initiatives like the Kartarpur Corridor illustrates how the region’s peoples, if given a fair chance, time and opportunity, realize their shared cultures, identities and histories that have survived time and division, and re-constitute their heritage as South Asians

7. Our seventh case study explains how Himal, a regional magazine has been playing an instrumental role in transforming independent journalism in South Asia for over 35 years. The magazine strives to be a neutral, non-partisan voice of reason in a geographical region that has seen numerous civil wars, colonization, neo-colonization and terrorism over the lastfew decades. There is a strong ideological base to the magazine that is not just about the articles they publish. What is most powerful is the ‘Southasian’ ethos and passion to promote the ‘Southasian’ identity.

8. The South Asia Economic Students Meet (SAESM) annually brings together nearly a hundred South Asian economics students for one week to debate issues of regional economic development. For most participants, it is their first exposure to regional cooperation and often leads to opportunities with peers for future research collaboration. For many students,crossing the border is a first-hand lesson about the challenges of regional cooperation- visas can be difficult to obtain and travel restrictions mean travelling a circuitous route for a neighboring country.

9. Our ninth case study describes how clothing and apparel are more than just products and fashion trade has the ability to bring neighbours together. Pakistan and northern India share similarities in cultural traditions, climate – and fashion tastes. The newspaper headline ‘India goes nuts over Pakistani textile products’ during Pakistan’s first ever exhibition in New Delhi foreshadows the business potential if market forces were allowed tofunction unhindered.

10. An orchestra requires cooperation, banding together diverse instruments in harmonious unison, so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Our tenth case study describes the efforts of two path-breaking platforms, the South Asian Symphony Orchestra and South Asian Band Festival, in using music to promote harmony and peace in the region.

The Good Neighbours series

Mandakini Kaul
Good Neighbours Series Editor and Sr. Regional Cooperation Officer
Regional Integration and Engagement - South Asia
Nikita Singla
Consultant and Editor
Regional Integration and Engagement - South Asia
Cecile Fruman
Regional Integration and Engagement - South Asia

Stay Connected