India in the league of Pakistan & Bangladesh: What lies ahead? -

India in the league of Pakistan & Bangladesh: What lies ahead?

In terms of their Human Development Index (a United Nations measure that looks at life expectancy, education and income) India is ranked 133rd in the world, Bangladesh at 135th and Pakistan at 154th. Here, India has fallen one place since 2014 while Bangladesh has risen by half a dozen. Bangladesh and now India have both brought their fertility rates to 2, which means very soon the population will stop growing in these nations.

The NGO sector in Bangladesh is the most developed in South Asia and this is likely one reason why it is improving its HDI rank. The government does not necessarily see NGOs in hostile terms and often works with them. On the other hand, both Pakistan and India have expended a lot of their energy persecuting their civil society groups and individuals and the results show.

Today there is not much to separate the three nations, though it appeared about a decade or two ago that India would be the breakout nation here. Now it is clear that this will not happen. All three nations have experimented with communalism in their government and their politics.

Pakistan had its worst period in the 1980s while India is taking that path today with minority specific laws and policies ranging from where people cannot pray, what they cannot eat and who they cannot marry.

The outside world will likely have a great deal of influence on how South Asia performs over the next two decades. Automation and artificial intelligence are quickly closing the route for these nations to transition their hundreds of millions from poverty to the middle class. I expect that relations between the three states, which have been mostly hostile, will also change. Given the dramatic geopolitical changes around us, it is unlikely that we will be able to continue into the near future in the way we have since 1947.

(Aakar Patel, a noted columnist, is former executive director of Amnesty International India. Views expressed are personal)

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