A woman performs exercises early morning at a park in Calcutta, India, Friday, March 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

Greeting the day in Calcutta. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

NPR is sending some of its correspondents out to report for a special series of stories about one of the world's most historic routes, as Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep explains:

We're traveling the Grand Trunk Road. It reaches across South Asia, from India to Pakistan. It connects some of the world's great cultural landmarks -- and some key conflict zones.

NPR correspondents and producers will be stopping in different places along the road. Trace your finger along a map -- it starts in Calcutta, India, and stretches westward to Delhi; then on to Lahore, and Peshawar, in Pakistan. Along the way it passes ancient forts and religious shrines. It points the way into tribal regions where Pakistani troops and American drones battle the Taliban.

This road is older than independent Pakistan or India, which gained their freedom in 1947. It's even older than the British Empire, which ruled the subcontinent for two centuries. It dates back to the Mughals -- India's rich and powerful rulers to whom we pay tribute every time we refer to some wealthy person as a "mogul."

A new generation is growing up along that ancient road. India's median age is 25. Pakistan's median age is below 21 -- meaning half the population has not yet reached adulthood. The population of both countries is exploding; and their importance is growing too.

That new generation faces vast opportunities, and vast problems. Many are at the cutting edge of the global economy. Others can't get a grade-school education. Some violently reject much of the modern world -- from Taliban rebels in Pakistan to India's Maoist insurgents.

NPR's Philip Reeves, Julie McCarthy, and I will listen to some of South Asia's younger generation along the Grand Trunk Road in May. You'll hear them on the air.

And over the next several weeks, you can follow our progress on The Two-Way, on Twitter (@morningedition and @nprinskeep) or on my Facebook page.

You can reach us on those sites. Do you have questions you wish we'd ask? Experiences of your own you'd like to share? Sights along the road you think we shouldn't miss? Offer a comment or send us a note.

Pakistani men jump into a water canal to take a reprieve from the heat in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday, May 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Cooling off in Lahore. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Update at 7:30 a.m. ET. And here is the latest example of the team's reporting from the region. On Morning Edition, Philip Reeves profiled the "rag pickers" in New Delhi -- impoverished people who spend their days picking through garbage:

categories: Afghanistan, Foreign News, Grand Trunk Road, History, India, Morning Edition, Pakistan

4:15 - April 14, 2010