The answer is a resounding YES, if you go by a report from Foreign Policy, a respected US journal. Nepal ranks 21, which is ahead of Uzbekistan and after East Timor, which got its independence from Indonesia few years ago. Coincidently, most of the bigwigs of UN Mission in Nepal were earlier posted in East Timor. Most of the top ten countries in the failed state list are African. But, there are also our South Asian neighbors: Pakistan (12) and Bangladesh (16) ahead of us. But, this should, in no way, be a respite for us, for Bhutan ranks 47 and Sri Lanka 25.
Seasoned journalist and editor of News front and Samay weeklies Yubaraj Ghimire likes to call it a 'captured state' instead of failed state. He says: "Nepal, at the moment has escaped a debate whether it is failing or a failed state. But political pundits have begun fearing the worst. Nepal perhaps qualifies to be listed as a 'captured state' where some powerful personalities and groups or parties have monopolised or captured the state power as well as privileges without people's mandate."
My own experience says, Nepal as a state cannot be more dysfunctional than this. It feels awkward to mention that even a decade long Maoist insurgency did not compel me to reach to this conclusion. I always believed that Nepal as a nation-state is always intact. But, not so anymore. I'm not conversant with the indicators Foreign policy adopted. But, a few things come to my mind when I think of my country as a failed state. I want to draw the conclusions from my own experiences. Today only, I came to my office on a bus and it took me one hour to arrive at my office at Tinkune from Kaushaltar, which is approximately three kilometers. It was because of the traffic jam. These days, traffic jam is sucking us. We cannot reach anywhere in time. Our road network cannot accommodate the overwhelming numbers of vehicles. But, who cares? The government has other big fishes to fry: transition, peace process, constituent assembly election etc. Who cares for Ram, Syam and Hari?
The reason I embarked on a bus is: my motorbike has run out of petrol and I don't have time to stay in hours long queues. The petrol problem is only the tip of the iceberg. Your cell phone doesn't work because there is always no network and even if by chance you got the line, you can't understand the other person's voice. You will be greeted by garbage on the road; it hasn't been picked since a week or two. Light goes of in every weekend. Your apartment does not have running water. The list is endless.
What is the use of a so-called system called state? Where is the state, actually? We in Nepal, particularly Kathmandu, so-called capital of new Nepal, are living in the most miserable and gravest condition. We are living under one of the most difficult material circumstances anywhere in the world. If the state cannot fulfill the necessities of its citizens, then it's in a delusion: delusion of running a country. I have paid my taxes; I have performed the duties of a citizen. But why am I deprived of the basic rights: to live a dignified life, to get the basic supplies in time. I too am so helpless and hapless that I can do nothing except jot these lines in this space. We truly are the wretched of the earth.
Note: Not related to this topic but check out my exclusive report "Red Army in the Dragon Kingdom" originally published as a cover story in NEPAL Weekly magazine..