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Introduction

We, the people of South Asia, have a shared past going back to hoary antiquity; our national identities, however, are barely 62 years old. Our shared values are more pronounced despite diversity of religion, culture, social mores, food habits, language, and rites and rituals.

Nature gave us immense biodiversity and strong natural-resource base. The wisdom of our ancestors ensured that we had abundant food, clean water, fine clothing and excellent habitat. Elaborate systems and rituals ensured a symbiotic relationship of humans with nature. Social inequities did exist, as they do today, but people were well fed, healthy and lived long. In less than 12 decades (1830–1947), the colonial looting transformed this region into an impoverished ...

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