A future out of grasp

We've seen poverty, and it is us. A Millennium Development Goal target-evaluation exercise tells us there is no need to smile.

Take a map of Southasia, remove the national frontiers and instead superimpose the Subcontinent's poverty index by districts, states and provinces. What you see emerge are hotspots of deprivation and destitution that are transboundary in nature and that leave no country shining brightly in its totality. The region's persistent and widespread poverty is a serious indictment of the inability of successive national governments to address the crisis; they make a mockery of their international commitments. Southasian governments as a whole are given to megalomania, wasteful spending on the military, and lavish expenditures on showcase projects, all while their citizens remain mired in misery.

National security for each of the Southasian countries should be less about military preparedness and more about addressing the destabilising aftereffects of having more than half of their populations living in extreme poverty. Defence should now be redefined as defending the citizens from hunger, disease and deprivation – not against a rebel group or neighbouring country.

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Himal Southasian