India surrounded by 'failed states'

India surrounded by 'failed states' August 19, 2005

Times of India

Wednesday’s terror attacks in Bangladesh only reinforce one fact: India is ringed with failed states.

A recent study by Foreign Policy, journal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Fund for Peace ranked 60 states in the world that are in danger of going over the edge — apart from Sri Lanka, every one of India’s neighbours is a failed or failing state. Bangladesh is in a critical state at 17th place, while Pakistan is at 34th along with Nepal at 35th while Myanmar and Bhutan are at 23rd and 26th places, respectively, with Afghanistan in the dangerous category at 11th place.

The failed states index ranks countries on 12 economic, social and political parameters and includes demographic pressures, refugees and displaced persons, group grievance, human flight, uneven development, economic decline delegitimisation of state, public services, human rights, security apparatus, factionalised elites and external intervention.

Pakistan is failing on economic, political and military parameters, while Bangladesh remains well in danger levels on numerous criteria. The worry, the study says, is not about states amassing power, it’s the absence of it.

The study argues that the danger of failing or failed states is now at the centre of global politics. US’ National Security Strategy of 2002 clearly laid down where the US’ threats lay: "America is threatened less by conquering states than failing ones."The same assessment works for India, except its reticent assessments tend to gloss over the threats that these failing states present to India’s economy and security.

Failed states export many unsavoury things, including international terrorists, large-scale immigrants, drugs, weapons, etc. In South Asia, you can see varying scenarios of this problem: a Nepal "sliding into chaos"sends in large numbers of migrants into India, fleeing either the Maoists or the state, creating economic and social pressures in India’s border states. Bangladesh sinking into Islamic fundamentalism will create the inevitable pressures in India’s fragile north-eastern states.

Instability, the study says, has many faces, while internal conflict can take virulent forms as in countries like Somalia and Ivory Coast or Afghanistan where fighting drugs, terrorism and external intervention make a deadly cocktail.

In fact, it is only episodes like the blasts in Bangladesh or LTTE’s killing of Sri Lankan minister last weekend which puts the spotlight on countries like Bangladesh, otherwise the slide into instability in countries like Saudi Arabia (45), Egypt (38) and even Russia (59) are rarely documented.


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