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Surrounded by failed states

Foreign Policy magazine has announced its failed states index. The indicators of instability include factors like demographic pressures, public services, external interventionand delegitimization of state. The top countries in the list are Sudan, Congo, Ivory Coast, Iraq and Zimbabwe.

In this list India’s neighbourhood does not look promising at all. Almost all its neighbours, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Burma are among the toppers in the failed states list. Leading the list in our region is Pakistan with a ranking of 9, just faring better than Somalia and Chad. Even a war torn Afghanistan did better than Pakistan. Regarding Pakistan, the report mentions that it remains “acutely vulnerable to internal conflict and social disintegration”.

Pakistan moved from 34th last year to ninth in the new report – one of the sharpest changes in the overallscore of any country on the list. The contributing factors were Pakistan’s inability to police the tribal areas near the Afghan border, the devastating earthquake last October in Kashmir and rising ethnic tensions, the report said. [Pakistan ‘is a top failed state’]

The others did not do much better. Burma, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka are ranked 18th, 19th, 20th and 25th respectively. China is ranked 57th, while India did much better with a ranking of 93.

The authors cite India as an example of a state which has pulled back from the brink, saying that in the 1970s analysts predicted dire consequences as a result of population growth, economic mismanagement, poverty and corruption. Now, they say, India today has turned itself around and might have the edge over China (ranked 57) in the long run. Pauline Baker, president of the Fund for Peace, told the Associated Press news agency that India had greater social mobility and was more decentralised than its more populous neighbour. [Pakistan ‘is a top failed state’]

While India is facing both internal and external threats, the failing of these neighbours should be a major concern. The Acorn’s item number 2 & 10 on the Foreign Policy Objectives has to be pursued seriously to avoid another 1971 type of situation.

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