Economists concluded Sunday a summit meet in Dhaka with a call for bolstering regional cooperation for building an inclusive, just and peaceful society in South Asia and attaining the UN-endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
To get to that goal, Prof Rehman Sobhan, the found-chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), urged all to act fast to correct injustice and reduce inequality in the region to avert any backlash.
He cautioned that there was already a big risk of social unrest.
"We live in dangerous times which are likely to become even more dangerous if we do not correct the injustices which divide our society," he said in the last plenary session of the ninth South Asia Economic Summit.
The eminent economist, also a former caretaker government adviser during Bangladesh's transition to democracy in the early 90s, noted that a stable democratic order will only be sustainable if enough people across South Asia 'can be invested with a sufficient stake in defending this order against challenges from a variety of extra-democratic forces'.
He told the meet that significant progress had been made in South Asia in reduction of income poverty and economic inequality but social disparities widened across the region.
Professor Rehman Sobhan was of the view that the issue of poverty reduction got included in the policies of all governments in South Asia but less attention was given on inequality factor.
Again, the policies are flawed, as identified by Prof Sobhan, due to 'emphasis on addressing the symptoms of the problem rather than challenging the sources of injustice'.
To cite an example of social injustice, he said female workers in the garment sector of Bangladesh earned only $50 per month per head while a handful of people are aspiring a First World lifestyle because of the low wage that also makes the industry competitive.
Professor Rehman Sobhan also chaired the concluding session of the summit at a city hotel.
Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the National Parliament of Bangladesh, was presented as the chief guest in the concluding session where she termed regional integration an ambitious agenda.
She also stressed creating employment opportunity for all to address the inequalities prevalent in the region.
The Speaker also said dynamics of political economy is crucial to understanding the prevalence of injustice and inequality in Bangladesh as well as other countries in South Asia.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs in Bangladesh Md Shahriar Alam was present as special guest.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the CPD, made the concluding remarks. Dr Fahmida Khatun, research director at the policy think-tank, presented the conference summary.
Dr Posh Raj Pandey, Chairman of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) of Nepal, delivered a statement on behalf of co-organisers of the economic summit.
CPD organised the two-day summit meet on economic issues of the day. It was formally inaugurated by Mr Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh, on Saturday. The broader theme of the conference was: Reimagining South Asia in 2030.
In the two-day deliberations, more than 100 participants from the eight countries discussed and suggested ensuring smooth connectivity, economic integration and decent jobs in the region.
They also urged the political leadership to act positively for regional cooperation and for attaining the universal recipe SDGs by 2030 on the regional plane.