IPCS Review

Nepal and the Failed States Index

30 Jul, 2013    ·   4059

Yelisha Sharma deconstructs Nepal's position in the index

The Fund for Peace has been developing a Failed State Index since 2005. The most interesting feature of this index are the indicators it takes into account. The position of various states all over the world  is analysed on the basis of  12 indicators which takes into consideration not just the national security and economy of any state but dimensions like  group grievances and human rights situation.

Being a post conflict country in transition, all these parameters are quite relevant for Nepal. Out of all the indicators, the measure of group grievances is quite steep. It was minimal in 2005 i.e 5.6 and seems to have increased over a period of time. Especially sharply to 9.2 in the year 2006 and is still very high i.e 9 in the year 2013. Abolition of Hinduism, the Madhes Andolan which was actually waged by the Madhesi community to forward their rights and increasing discourse on inclusiveness which all happened after 2006 seem to be the contributing factors in the rise of group grievances and hence reflected in an increasing trend in the index. However, the movement of IDPs and refugees which was scored 8 in 2005 should have increased in the following years but that is not the case according to the index. In contrary the movement seems to have decreased in the following years being 4.8 in 2006 and 7.7 in 2013, only increasing slightly in between  2007- 2012.    

In addition, a little discomforting is the ranking assigned to Nepal in 2005 when Nepal was still witnessing the brunt of war between the government and Maoist insurgents and the 2013 ranking  when Nepal is relatively stable and in a post conflict phase. One would presume Nepal’s ranking would be very high in 2005 as the country was still in war mode than in 2013 when it is much stable but the ranking is otherwise in the index. In 2005 Nepal has been assigned the 35th position and in 2013 it occupies the 30th position. This ranking seems to be incorrect and unconvincing in the first instance but a deeper analysis of Nepal’s ranking in the in between years of 2006-2012 provides a logical answer as to why Nepal’s situation was far better than imagined in the year 2005.  The most affected year as per the index is the year of 2006. During 2006, Nepal was up by 15 position on the radar occupying the 20th position. It could be argued that this is because the consequences of war are actually lingering and felt afterwards than during the war itself.  Hence, the repercussions of the decade long conflict were seen at the highest level when the conflict actually was coming to halt.

After having experienced the most failed position in the year 2006 and finally with the signing of the peace accord in the later half of 2006, from the year 2007 onwards Nepal has been struggling to improve its position. Such a trend can be inferred by analysing Nepal’s position in the index from 2007-2013.  In 2007 Nepal occupied 21st position, 23rd position in 2008, 25th position in 2009, 26th position in 2010 and 27th position in 2011 and 2012. Hence in 2013 it seems to have come to a full circle by occupying the 30th position and trying to come to par with its position in 2005 when the consequences of conflict had minimal impact.

It would have been a lot more interesting to see Nepal’s ranking during the conflict years of 1996 till 2004 but unfortunately there is no data for this period. However, it would be interesting to keep an eye on the position of Nepal in 2014. If the upcoming constituent assembly election scheduled for November 2013 happens smoothly and perhaps controversial issues like federalism are tackled well in drafting of a new constitution Nepal should rank fairly well in the upcoming index. Also, the fund for peace has been mostly relying on data generated from written documents while projecting the country in the index but in the coming years it should also get first hand information from the local people across all the levels through direct interviews as that would make the country’s projection more accurate.