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Is India a Failing State?

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A Round Table Dialogue was held in Bangalore on April 28 on “Is India a Failing State: Is there an Alternative?” It was organized by the Karnataka Institute of Public Administration and was presided by Justice M. N. Venkatachaliah, former chief justice, Supreme court of India. Justice V. S. Malimath, former judge of the Karantaka High Court and Justice Santosh Hegde, former Lok Ayukta of Karnataka also participated. The Institute had invited 60 prominent citizens of Bangalore. Nearly 45 came and took part in deliberations. Among the other notable citizens were former Karnataka minister P G R Scindia, D. B. Chandregowda, MP representing Bangalore South in Lok Sabha;
Dr. Ajay Kumar Sing, former DG of Karnataka police, Capt. Prabhalla of Bangalore Environment Trust; Prof. Ramesh from NLSIU; Nagaraj from CPI(M); Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar; Social worker Nandana Reddy; Media Professional Samantha; former Bureaucrat Meenakshi Sundaram; Malati Das, former Chief Secretary, Govt of Karnataka. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj who was also an invitee and participant in discussions compiles the highlights of the Dialogue for Islamic Voice.

Symptoms of an Ailing State

  • Regional Parties are coming to the fore. National parties are receding into the background. Unified vision of governance and development is under severe threat.
  • Regional leaders are now dictating the central policies. Mamata Banerjee dictated the Railways budget this year.
  • Intelligentsia is petrified and lacks the courage to take upon the politicians frontally.
  • Huge backlog of cases and large number of acquittals serves as an index of judiciary being severely hamstrung in delivering justice.
  • Most corruption cases against politicians and bureaucrats come to a naught and convey the impression that nobody can be punished for graft.
  • All that the democracy means to a common man is a single vote to elect a Government after every five years. Even this right to franchise is often purchased against a bottle of liquor or a few rupees.
  • Decades of handout policies have commodified the voters.
  • Courts too tend to play to the gallery, taking up PILs from the glitterati and sitting over the issues concerned with the hoi polloi.
  • Electoral politics has sharpened the boundaries of caste and community. Indian democracy is now seen as a federalism of various communalisms.
  • People vote for their caste rather than casting the votes.
  • Tolerance for all is now leading to appeasement of  all castes and communities.
  • The British style First-pastthe-post system is making our democracy a non-representative one. A candidate managing to get three lakh votes in an average 1.5 million voters of a Lok Sabha constituency get elected. The Lok Sabha therefore represents only one-fifth of adult, voting individuals.
  • Only 172 out of total 542 MPs spoke in the Parliament between 2004 and 2009. Average expense on an MP on an average day is
  • Rs. 2.70 lakh. The conduct of Parliament for a day cost the public exchequer Rs. 3.5 crore a day.
  • The lost time due to adjournments,walkouts, dharna and interruptions in Lok Sabha was 49.5 % and in Rajya Sabha 44.47% in 2010
  • 20% of the share market is with 650 billionaires (in terms of rupee).
  • Legislators behave like the CEOs of their constituencies. The officials and bureaucrats are at their mercy.
  • Demarcation lines between Legislature, Courts and Executive are getting blurred. MPLADS fund is now managed by the MPs. A spineless bureaucracy follows the ‘Under no circumstances your will take a decision’ dictum. Politicians refer the contentious issues to courts, lest their own decision become unpopular and cost them their seats at the husting.
  •  Megabucks decides the speed of political decisions. If a Mall, airport, Metro or Flyover has to come up, the MoU will be signed in a day. But if an Ashraya house has to be allotted to the BPL nominees, a teacher to be appointed in a village school, it is not possible within a year. China, Indonesia, most of Central Asian states, Iran, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, etc fall under ‘In Danger’ category. India, Brazil, Russia, Namibia, South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and several others states are categorized under ‘Borderline’ states. Oman, South Korea, Argentina,
  • several states of Europe are ‘Stable’ states. The ‘Most Stable’ category includes UK, USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal and all Scandinavian countries. (Source: http://www.f o r e i g n p o l i c y . c o m /articles/2010/06/21/2010_failed_states_index)
  • The general perception is that the people’s representatives connive with the bureaucrats and corporate to exploit the national resources like mines, hills, water, forests, rivers and lands. Persons who built Hyderabad and Delhi Airport were quietly nominated on the RBI Board of directors.
  • Indians have stashed $1,456 billion in Swiss banks. The money if brought home, could fund a taxless budget for 30 years.
  • More than political system, it is political parties that have failed Indians. Political parties are moribund, unable to throw new leaders. Regional dynasties are mushrooming everywhere.
  • There is a sense of readiness among Indians to subvert the institutions. We have been wrecking the Constitution from the day one.
  • The all pervasive malaise of corruption is eating into the vitals of the state. If there is one bribe-taker, there are a hundred bribe-givers.

How Does a State Fail?

The US think-tank Fund for Peace and the magazine Foreign Policy publish an annual index called the Failed States Index. The ranking
is based on total score of the 12 indicators. For each indicator the States are given ratings from zero(for the lowest) to 10 (for the best).
The total score is the sum of the 12 indicators. Of the 12 indicators, four are social, two economic and six political.

Social Indicators:
1- Demographic pressures,
2- Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples,
3- legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance, and,
4- Chronic and sustained human flight.

Economic indicators:
Uneven economic development along group lines, and 2- Sharp or severe economic decline.

Political indicators:
1- Criminalisation and delegitimisation of the state,
2- Progressive deterioration of public services,
3- Widespread violation of human rights,
4- Security apparatus as “state within a state”,
5- Rise of factionalised elites, and
6- Intervention of other states of external factors.

The states have been classified into five kinds of States: 1- Critical, 2- In Danger, 3- Borderline, 4- Stable and, 5- Most Stable.
States in the Critical category are : Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Iraq and Cote d’Ivoire.

Where Does India Stand?

GDP Growth rate 7% to 8.5% (since 1990s)
Per capital income (at current prices)””Rs. 53,331 (2010-11)
Population below poverty line””37%
Infant mortality rate””52 per1,000 live births.
Not likely to survive upto 40 years””16%
Female Adult illiteracy ““52%
Incidence of Tuberculosis”“18 per one lakh population
Infants with low birth weight, 4 lbs””33%
Pregnant women with anaemia”“88%
Index of Gender Equality (UN)”“114th rank
Human Development Index (UN)”“122nd out of 174 countries
Gold medals in 2008 Olympics”“One (China 50 gold)
Estimate of 2G Scam”“Rs. 176,000 crore
Budgetary write-off to Corporate sector”“Rs.303,262 crore (in concessions in 2008-09)
Expenditure on ICDS 2007-08″”Rs. 9,600 cro re
Homeless population living in sulums””24% (Urban)
(Source: Readings on Is India a Failing State? Indian Institute of Public Administration, Karnataka Regional Branch, Bangalore, 2012)