Next 100 Years For India, Pakistan and the World
Why is India a Failed State?
The reality of the failure of Indian state is as obvious as daylight. The Indian state's abject failures in delivering bare minimum services to its people, and its inability to solve India's basic problems are there for everyone to see.
Not unlike North Korea, India is engaged in a massive arms buildup while almost half of its children are near starvation. A nation-state like India that fails to take care of 46% its children's basic nutrition needs has to be a failed state. In fact, George Friedman of Strafor raises serious doubts about India's viability as a modern nation-state, and dismisses the talk of its emergence as one of the great powers of the 21st century. Friedman does not accept that any of the four BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will achieve great world power status in this century. Instead, he believes that Turkey, Poland and Japan will join the United States as the most important world powers in the next 50 years.
Here are some shocking statistics shedding light on India's failures:
One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian, according to UNESCO.
One out of very two hungry persons in the world is an Indian, according to World Food Program.
Almost one out of two Indians lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day.
And yet, India spends $30 billion on defense, and just increased the defense budget by 32% this year.
Here are some more recent comparative indicators in South Asia:
Population living under $1.25 a day - India: 41.6% Pakistan: 22.6% Source: UNDP
Underweight Children Under Five (in percent) Pakistan 38% India 46% Source: UNICEF
Life expectancy at birth (years), 2007 India: 63.4 Pakistan: 66.2 Source: HDR2009
Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, male Pak istan: 80% India 87% Source: UNICEF
Youth (15–24 years) literacy rate, 2000 to 2007, female Pak istan 60% India 77% Source: UNICEF
GDP per capita (US$), 2008 Pak:$1000-1022 India $1017-1100
Child marriage under 15-years ; 1998–2007*, total Pak istan - 32% India - 47% Source: UNICEF
Under-5 mortality rate per 1000 live births (2007), Value Pakistan - 90 India 72 Source: UNICEF
In spite of the grim statistics above, India is ranked the fourth biggest military spender in terms of purchasing power parity.
The poverty and hunger situation in Pakistan is only a bit less serious than in India.
The myth about Pakistan being a failed state is being pushed by people who are either ignorant about Pakistan, or have an ax to grind.
Here's a video clip of British writer William Dalrymple comparing India and Pakistan:
Do any serious analysts challenge the poverty and hunger figures for India, or the strength and scope of the Maoists insurgency? Absolutely not! Even Indian officials, including Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, agree with the data on hunger, poverty and malnutrition, as well the Maoists threat assessment.
In terms of the challenges to the writ of the state, India is host to some of the fiercest conflicts in the world. Since 1989 more than 80,000 have died in insurgencies in Kashmir and the northeastern states. About 25% of the Indian territory is outside the control of Indian authority.
Manmohan Singh himself has called the Maoist insurgency the biggest internal security threat to India since independence. The Maoists, however, are confined to rural areas; their bold tactics haven't rattled Indian middle-class confidence. In fact, the Maoists in India, led by the left-wing intellectuals with many urban sympathizers, have a greater chance of success in India than the poor, rural Pakistani Taliban, or other Islamic radicals in Pakistan, whose heavy handed tactics in Swat, and suicide bombings in Pakistani cities have destroyed whatever sympathies they had among the urban middle class.
Talking about failure to deliver minimum assistance to India's people, Indian Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed acknowledged in 2008 that India is worse than Bangladesh and Pakistan when it comes to nourishment and is showing little improvement.
Speaking at a conference on "Malnutrition an emergency: what it costs the nation", she said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during interactions with the Planning Commission has described malnourishment as the "blackest mark".
"I should not compare. But countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are better," she said. The conference was organized last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Development of Northeastern Region.
According to India's Family Health Survey, almost 46 percent of children under the age of three are undernourished - an improvement of just one percent in the last seven years. This is only a shade better than Sub-Saharan Africa where about 35 percent of children are malnourished.
Is Pakistan a Failed State?
Do any serious analysts challenge Pakistan's place on failed state index? Absolutely! Not just one, many analysts do!
Dalrymple, a self-declared Indophile, is not alone in rejecting the myth of Pakistan being a failed state. Others who know South Asia and other parts of the world, such as Prof Juan Cole, Peter Bergen, and others, also reject this myth.
My reasons for saying that India is a failed state are simple: More than Pakistani state, the Indian state has miserably failed in meeting the very basic needs of its people (particularly children) for food, clothing, shelter and basic sanitation. In addition, India has larger swaths of its territory in central and eastern where state authority does not exist.
India-A Failed Democracy:
India is also a failed democracy and a bad poster child for democratic form of government. It's pervasive hunger, poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, a huge and growing rich-poor gap, and a well-established system of caste-based Apartheid, and its terrible governance make its democracy a joke. And its history of widespread persecution of its minorities makes its secular label ludicrous.
Here's an American researcher and professor emeritus of University Washington explaining anti-Muslim riots in his 2003 book "Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India":
Events labeled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and towns in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/ rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation.1 In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally.
At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them.
Busting Myths of India as Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous":
Here's Indian writer Pankaj Mishra busting the myth of "Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India":
Apparently, no inconvenient truths are allowed to mar what Foreign Affairs, the foreign policy journal of America's elite, has declared a "roaring capitalist success story". Add Bollywood's singing and dancing stars, beauty queens and Booker prize-winning writers to the Tatas, the Mittals and the IT tycoons, and the picture of Indian confidence, vigour and felicity is complete.
The passive consumer of this image, already puzzled by recurring reports of explosions in Indian cities, may be startled to learn from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in Washington that the death toll from terrorist attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007 was 3,674, second only to that in Iraq. (In the same period, 1,000 died as a result of such attacks in Pakistan, the "most dangerous place on earth" according to the Economist, Newsweek and other vendors of geopolitical insight.)
I agree with India's Dalit leader, constitution architect and first law minister Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's statement that "Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic."
As someone described it recently, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest strata of the country’s enduring caste system, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid. But after 62 years of independence, over 250 million Indian Dalits are victims of caste-based discrimination and segregation in India. They live miserable lives, shunned by much of society because of their ranks as untouchables or Dalits at the bottom of a rigid caste system in Hindu India. Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection, according to Human Rights Watch.
India's Secularism Is a Myth:
Regarding secularism, here's how Kapil Komireddy demolishes the myth of Indian secularism in a piece he wrote for the Guardian newspaper:
For decades Indian intellectuals have claimed that religion, particularly Hinduism, is perfectly compatible with secularism. Indian secularism, they said repeatedly, is not a total rejection of religion by the state but rather an equal appreciation of every faith. Even though no faith is in principle privileged by the state, this approach made it possible for religion to find expression in the public sphere, and, since Hindus in India outnumber adherents of every other faith, Hinduism dominated it. Almost every government building in India has a prominently positioned picture of a Hindu deity. Hindu rituals accompany the inauguration of all public works, without exception.
The novelist Shashi Tharoor tried to burnish this certifiably sectarian phenomenon with a facile analogy: Indian Muslims, he wrote, accept Hindu rituals at state ceremonies in the same spirit as teetotallers accept champagne in western celebrations. This self-affirming explanation is characteristic of someone who belongs to the majority community. Muslims I interviewed took a different view, but understandably, they were unwilling to protest for the fear of being labelled as "angry Muslims" in a country famous for its tolerant Hindus.
The failure of secularism in India – or, more accurately, the failure of the Indian model of secularism – may be just one aspect of the gamut of failures, but it has the potential to bring down the country. Secularism in India rests entirely upon the goodwill of the Hindu majority. Can this kind of secularism really survive a Narendra Modi as prime minister? As Hindus are increasingly infected by the kind of hatred that Varun Gandhi's speech displayed, maybe it is time for Indian secularists to embrace a new, more radical kind of secularism that is not afraid to recognize and reject the principal source of this strife: religion itself.
The Next 100 Years:
Contrary to conventional wisdom, George Friedman, Chairman of Stratfor, and author of "The Next 100 Years", sees the United States, Turkey, Poland and Japan as the great powers of the 21st century.
Friedman raises serious doubts about India and China staying united as modern nation-states, much less emerge as great powers of the 21st century. He says India and China are regionally fragmented and it's very difficult to govern the vast nations from from Delhi or Beijing. He does not foresee Brazil or Russia emerge as great powers of the 21st century either, essentially dismissing all four members of the the much-hyped BRIC countries.
Talking about the emergence of South Korea and Israel as modern industrialized states, Friedman singles out the value of the transfer by the US of F-16s as a catalyst for recipient countries' development of skills and technical know-how. He makes no mention of Pakistan's development of the F16 maintenance and training infrastructure at Kamra PAC for its F16s in this context.
Friedman says the Islamic World will recover from the current chaos imposed by the United States in its conflict with al Qaeda. He also argues that Turkey, not Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, or Egypt, will emerge as a great world power, and the leader of the Muslim world.
Here's how Friedman describes the four great powers of the twenty-first century:
Japan, Turkey, and Poland will each be facing a United States even more confident than it was after the second fall of the Soviet Union. That will be an explosive situation. As we will see during the course of this book, the relationships among these four countries will greatly affect the twenty-first century, leading, ultimately, to the next global war. This war will be fought differently from any in history—with weapons that are today in the realm of science fiction. But as I will try to outline, this mid-twenty-first century conflict will grow out of the dynamic forces born in the early part of the new century.
"BRIC" is an acronym coined by Goldman Sachs to bracket four disparate nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China together just because of their large populations. Similar logic is used in GS's "Next 11" group of emerging nations which include Pakistan and Turkey.
I think population alone can not be used as a determinant for the future, although nations with higher than replacement fertility rate (TFR of 2.1 or greater) will have some advantage in the 21st century. Conversely, the nations with aging populations and sub-replacement fertility rates, such as Japan, Poland and Russia, will be disadvantaged.
I also think that the predictive abilities of most analysts, including Friedman, are limited by the present. Future is often seen as a highly exaggerated version of the present.
As Friedman himself says, Germany was predicted to be the greatest power of the 20th century. All that changed after two world wars, when America emerged as the most important world power, and the Soviet Union its biggest competitor. The same could happen in this century. We could see new players by 2050, such as Turkey and Poland, emerge in addition to US and Japan, rather than the much hyped BRICs. Only time will tell how the new world order emerges in the 21st century.
As to the nukes, I don't think we ought to be constrained in our thinking by the current status of nuclear weapons technology. New weapons and technologies can emerge to potentially make the possession of the current generation of atomic weaponry irrelevant. Space-based weaponry, and remote cyber warfare could determine the winners of future conflicts.
Dalit Victims of Apartheid in India
FAQs on India's Massive Arms Buildup
The Next 100 Years by George Friedman
Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India
Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Talks
India 's Sane Voice Warns Against Smugness
Hindutva Terror to Spark India-Pakistan War?
Failed state? Try Pakistan's M2
Is Pakistan Too Big to Fail?
India and Pakistan Compared in 2010
Why is Democracy Failing in Pakistan?
Middle Class Clout Rising in Pakistan
Panka j Mishra Busts the Myth of Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous India
US Afghan Exit: Trigger For India-Pakistan Talks?
China's Growing Role in Kashmir