The book analyses the population characteristics such as population growth rate, fertility and mortality trends, age structure, urbanisation and urban concentration, education and human resource development, internal and international migration, gender disparities, ethnic demography, etc. and their impacy on the socio-economic formations in West Asia and North Africa and vice versa.
In spite of the fact that there has been unprecedented economic development in West Asia during the past few decades, it still remains one of the fastest growing regions in the world. This perhaps suggests that patriarchal social structure in most Muslim countries of West Asia has not significantly changed over the years, and it continues to influence their population dynamics. The nature, causes and consequences of this demographic transition, which is by no means uniform across the countries of the region, have been analysed in the political economy perspective.
The author Dr. Prakash C. Jain is on the faculty of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Earlier, he taught at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Dr. Jain received M. A. ( Sociology ) degree with distinction from Banaras Hindu University and Ph.D. ( Sociology ) from Carleton University, Ottawa. He was a recipient of the Canadian Commonwealth scholarship for his doctoral work.
Besides West Asian Studies, Dr. Jain's other areas of academic interest are the Indian Diaspora, Comparative Ethnic and Race Relations and Sociology of Development. His Previous publications Include Racial Discrimination Against Overseas Indians : A Class Analysis; Contemporary Iran and Emerging Indo-Iranian Relations ( co-edited ) and Indians in South Africa : Political Economy of Race Relations. He has also contributed a number. of articles to national and international journals.
The book is a collection of essays most of which were written for various seminars/conferences over a period of time. Some of them have already been published either as part of seminar proceedings or as articles in academic journals. These are updated and revised here with a view to highlighting the emerging demographic trends in West Asia and North Africa.
The present work attempts to study the population dynamics in West Asia and North Africa region and their impact on social formation in different countries of the region. The first two essays highlight the general demographic tendencies in West Asia and North Africa. Part II of the book focusses on the Gulf region which, for the past few decades has been an area of unprecedented political conflicts as well as economic development. Irrespective of their population size, all the Arab Gulf countries have paucity of indigenous manpower and, therefore, are compelled to import a sizeable labour force to take up jobs in various sectors of their economies. The problems and prospects of human resource development in Gulf countries are discussed in chapter 3. This is followed by a chapter on the theme of Indian migration to the Arab Gulf countries and its implications on India and Indo-Gulf relations. The essay can well be taken as an exemplar of the predicament of immigrant labour in these countries.
Immigrant labour in small countries is a source of strength as well as weakness. In countries where the proportion of immigrant population is relatively high, the concern for its adverse impact on the indigenous socio-cultural life is understandable.
Chapter 5 focusses on the Kuwaiti crisis which resulted in sizeable displacement of native as well as immigrant manpower. Most people were rendered either refugees or 'returnees'. For the time being it seemed that Kuwait would end up as a province of Iraq but the international intervention willed it otherwise and today Kuwait is as much populated and prosperous as it was before the Iraqi invasion. The last chapter in this section of the book deals with demographic and social challenges faced by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The other two populous countries in the WANA region, that is, Turkey and Egypt, are comparatively studied in one of the chapters in Part III. In spite of apparent demographic similarities, the two countries continue to remain essentially different in their social formation, particularly with respect to the role of Islam therein. While in Turkey certain sections of society wish to revive religious orthodoxy, the Egyptian society continues to be mired in Islamic fundamentalist discourse. Overall, Turkey remains the most open Muslim society in West Asia and North Africa.
The dynamics of population and society in Israel, which is the only non-Muslim country in the region, are dealt with in a separate chapter. Undoubtedly, Israel has been exerting a major influence on the political and strategic scenario of the West Asian region since its establishment in 1948. The creation of Israel had two major demographic consequences on the region as a whole: (i) immigration and absorption of almost all the West Asian and North African Jews into Israel, and (ii) the creation of the Palestinian diaspora. Thus, in a dialectical process, as it were, whereas the Jewish communities of the region (as also others) got concentrated in Israel, the Palestinians, who knew no other homeland than Palestine, had
to seek refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere. Today, more Palestinians are living in diaspora than in 'Palestine'.
The final chapter of the book details some major West Asian diasporas, both old and emergent. Among the old ones the foremost is the Jewish diaspora. Two noteworthy features of the contemporary Jewish diaspora are (i) its overwhelming concentration in nine countries of the world, most of them industrially advanced-a far cry from the late nineteenth century and earlier situation, and (ii) its virtual demographic stagnation since at least the 1970s. The Palestinian diaspora displays rather opposite trends in this context. Other diasporas discussed in the chapter are the Lebanese/Syrian, Turkish and Iranian. The use of the term 'Arab diaspora' is deliberately avoided as it is rather an amorphous and statistical category and not an analytical one.
Grateful acknowledgements are made to the editors of relevant books and journals (listed against my name in the Bibliography) for allowing me to reproduce the material here; to the Gulf Studies Programme for financial assistance for 'typing' the manuscript; to my colleagues and students for inspiration; and to my wife Dr. Renu Saxena, our daughters Rashi and Sanskriti and other members of the family for support and encouragemsssent.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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