Posted on June 11, 2014

According to the political theories of Max Weber, a state could be said to “succeed” if it maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its borders. When this is broken (e.g., through the dominant presence of warlords, paramilitary groups, or terrorism), the very existence of the state becomes dubious, and the state becomes a failed state. The difficulty of determining whether a government maintains “a monopoly on the legitimate use of force”, which includes the problems of the definition of “legitimate”, means it is not clear precisely when a state can be said to have “failed.” The problem of legitimacy can be solved by understanding what Weber intended by it. Weber clearly explains that only the state has the means of production necessary for physical violence (politics as vocation). This means that the state does not require legitimacy for achieving monopoly on having the means of violence (de facto), but will need one if it needs to use it (de jure).

Typically, the term means that the state has been rendered ineffective and is not able to enforce its laws uniformly or provide basic goods and services to its citizens because of (variously) high crime rates, extreme political corruption, an impenetrable and ineffective bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, and cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area. Other factors of perception may be involved. A derived concept of “failed cities” has also been launched, based on the notion that while a state may function in general, polities at the substate level may collapse in terms of infrastructure, economy and social policy. Certain areas or cities may even fall outside state control, becoming a de facto ungoverned part of the state.[3]

There is no real consensus on the definition of a “failed-state”. Various government agencies and think tanks often use their own indicators of state failure, leading to an ambiguous understanding of the term. Some scholars focus on the capacity and effectiveness of the government to determine if a state is failed or not.[4] Other indices such as the Fund for Peace’s Failed State Index underline the democratic character of state institutions in order to determine its level of failure.[5] Finally other scholars focus their argument on the legitimacy of the state,[6] on the nature of the state,[7] on the growth of criminal violence in a state,[8] on the economic extractive institutions [9] or on the states’ capacity to control its territory.[10] Robert H. Bates refers to state failure as the “implosion of the state”, where the state transforms “into an instrument of predation” and the state effectively loses its monopoly on the means of force.[11]

As part of the debate about the state failure definition, Charles T. Call (2010) attempts to abandon the concept of state failure altogether; as, he argues, it promotes an unclear understanding of what state failure means.[12] Indeed, one of the main contributions to the theorization of the “failed-state” is the “gap framework” developed by Call (2010). This framework builds on his previous (2008) criticisms of ‘state failure’, as a concept used as a catch-all term for diverse states with varying problems and as a base and explanation for universal policy prescriptions.[13] It unpacks the concept of “state failure” focusing on three gaps that the state is not able to provide when it is in the process of failure: capacity, when state institutions lack the ability to effectively deliver basic goods and services to its population; security, when the state is unable to provide security to its population under the threat of armed groups; and legitimacy, when a “significant portion of its political elites and society reject the rules regulating power and the accumulation and distribution of wealth.”[14] The “gap framework” seems to be more useful than other definitions. Instead of attempting to quantify the degree of failure of a state, the gap framework provides a three-dimensional scope useful to analyse the interplay between the government and the society in states in a more analytical way. Call does not necessarily suggest that states that suffer from the challenges of the three gaps should be identified as failed states; but instead, presents the gap idea as an alternative to the state failure concept as a whole.[14] Although Call recognizes that the gap concept in itself has limits, since often states face two or more of the gap challenges, his conceptual proposition presents a useful way for more precisely identifying the challenges within a society and the policy prescriptions that are more likely to be effective for external and international actors to implement.

I have taken this excerpt from wikipedia and I request the readers to study it carefully and then ponder over the circumstance and current political and other pillers of state and then imagine how much our country is near to become as a failure state.