By Arkebe Oqubay

January 2020

Originally published on UNU-Wider

Completing a Trilogy on Asia’s Transformation

Deepak Nayyar — economist, thinker, leading scholar — has written yet another splendid book. Resurgent Asia: Diversity in Development, together with the excellent Asian Transformations: An Inquiry into the Development of Nations (2019), recently edited by Nayyar, and an earlier path-breaking book, Catch Up: Developing Countries in the World Economy (2013), form a trilogy of scholarly work on Asia. The significance of Resurgent Asia lies in its timing, coming as it does fifty years after the publication of Myrdal’s Asian Drama: An Enquiry into the Poverty of Nations (1968) – a seminal, if pessimistic, book on Asia’s prospects for development written after a decade of research.

Asia is undoubtedly the most dynamic region of our time. It has witnessed a phenomenal transformation and the deepest economic miracle with profound implications for the global economy in the twenty-first century. According to Nayyar’s historical analysis, Asia accounted for more than two-thirds of total global manufacturing output in the mid-eighteenth century compared with a meagre seven per cent in the late nineteenth century. Resurgent Asia is a bold and insightful analysis of the miraculous transformation and resurgence that has taken place over the last half-century. The analysis is supported by a comparative review of sub-regions — East, Southeast, South, and West Asia — and an in-depth enquiry into the diversity of development that examines fourteen countries — China, South Korea, and Taiwan in East Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in Southeast Asia; Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in South Asia; and Turkey in West Asia — accounting for four-fifths of Asia’s population and income. The book is written in an excellent, lucid, and reader-friendly style. It analyses the economic and social transformation of the continent and the process of catch-up in Asia’s most dynamic economies (such as South Korea and China), highlighting the diverse paths they have taken in their development. Yet, despite such diversity, there are discernible patterns, pointing to substantive analytical lessons that emerge from the Asian development experience.

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