In some ways India and its neighborhood is about as different from the U.S. as you can possibly be. I've been writing about that since I first went there in 1969. But, viewed from Kathmandu-- where the tourist scene these days is almost all Indian and where the English language TV channels are all Indian-- India is very much like the U.S. Oh, not that India... the other one, the 21st Century one. That one watches Glee, How I Met Your Mother, HBO and Indian TV shows that display a culture so disgustingly celebrity-oriented that it even puts our own to shame... well almost. I don't know what they call Madison Avenue in Mumbai but, God do these guys ever run the show.
I just watched an episode of a popular show, India's Most Desirable. I don't recommend it... but go ahead:
India has (another) problem. It's surrounded by the world's most failed states Africa's worse. Somalia's #1. Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, and the Congo, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Burundi, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, even Ethiopia are right up there among the world's most vulnerable countries. But none of those places are as much like our country as India is. And India's neighbor's... every single one of them is high on the list of the most failed states index:
#12- nuclear-armed Pakistan
#29- Sri Lanka
India doesn't have any other neighbors-- except Tibet, which isn't considered a country, but a region of China. But the occupation forces there apparently feel there's a problem. They just pulled all foreigners' visas for a month. I know. I was supposed to be there now.
On Pakistan, the report said, "Pakistan has long been dubbed the world's most dangerous country in Washington policy circles" and "yet Pakistan isn't just dangerous for the West-- it's often a danger to its own people."
On Bangladesh, the report said, two of five Bangladeshis live under the poverty line. Any improvements will also be fighting the environmental clock. If sea levels rise just by 1 metre, scientists warn, 17 per cent of the country could be submerged.
"Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia, according to the United Nations, and that's unlikely to change until the peace process is implemented and security restored. There are signs that the Maoists may be losing patience-- and thinking about going back to the trenches to fight for more," the report said.
On Sri Lanka, it said, "The government's final push against the rebels relied on the shelling of civilians and other atrocities, according to a 2010 report by the International Crisis Group.
"The most recent statistics from last year indicate that some 327,000 are still displaced from the conflict."
"Despite the pronounced fractures still lingering, the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo seems eager to forget the past," it added.
I've visited almost all these countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1969 and 1972; Nepal 3 times, Sri Lanka in 1970 and again in 1997, Myanmar in 2007. I tried getting into Bhutan this month but it was so complicated and bothersome-- and the monsoon is so awful-- that we decided to go to Nepal and Tibet instead-- a bad idea (at least the Tibet part) because China was able to pull the rug out from under us suddenly after a year of planning. Do I feel like I'm in a failed state when I'm visiting these places? HELL YEAH! They're all unsafe on one level or another, usually more than one level. Some I affectionately refer to as hellholes. Even if we don't wind up in an airplane mishap here or get caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and garden variety Communists, Roland is certain we're taking a year off our lives just by breathing the air in Kathmandu.