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Islam Maybe the Best but Islamic Countries Are the Worst: Good Country Index


 New Age Islam Edit Desk

27 June, 2014

Islamic countries have once again failed the world. This time again, the European countries did the humanity proud. A survey was conducted by a think tank called Good Country to assess the contribution of countries of the world for the common good of the planet. That is, how much the countries of the world have contributed to the safety, security, economic growth, environment, health etc. And Ireland topped the list of 125 countries.

It was different from the earlier surveys that assessed each country’s progress or lack of it, in various fields in isolation. But the idea behind Good Country Index was to learn how much each country has contributed to the entire planet. In this sense, a good country is not a country which though maintains peace at home, provides safety to its citizens, progresses in the fields of science and technology and economy but does not live in peace with its neighbours, or does not contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in other countries that are going through difficult times and does not contribute to the progress of science and technology or to the promotion of arts and culture in the world at large. From this yardstick, China which is a developed country, scientifically, economically and politically, it figures very low in the list because it has chosen to live in isolation and though it maintains peace at home, it is at loggerheads with its neighbours (India) and does not contribute to the overall good of the world, according to Good Country. However, India also does not figure in the list at a respectable place because of certain yardsticks.

The father of the project, Simon Anholt says, “The Good Country Index doesn’t measure what countries do at home: not because I think these things don’t matter, of course, but because there are plenty of surveys that already do that. What the Index does aim to do is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet. I hope that looking at these results will encourage you to take part in that discussion. Today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves.”

Some of the yardsticks are prosperity and equality. Off course, in terms of prosperity and equality, India does not fare well as the Indian society is heavily marked by caste and religious inequality because of which it sees serious differences and often violent strife. Though India has made considerable contribution to the promotion of science and technology, it has not done much in other areas like international peace and security, environment and health and well being. Because of these failures, it has ranked 81 in the list.

But the most striking feature of the Good Country Index is the poor showing of Islamic countries in the survey. Almost all the Islamic countries are at the bottom of the list and Libya is at 125. Obviously, the reason is, that the country has neither done good to its own people nor has it contributed to the world outside it, rather it has become a nagging problem for the whole world. Who is behind this malady is not the issue to be discussed here.

Libya is not the only country that has figured very low in the index. Other Islamic countries that have performed very badly in the survey are: Iraq (123), Indonesia (119), Azerbaijan (122), Yemen(116), Syrian Arab Republic (113), Algeria(111), Pakistan(106), Sudan(105), Nigeria (103), Oman (100), Ukraine (99), Kuwait (93), Saudi Arabia (92), Bangladesh(91), UAE(87), Kazakhstan(80), Turkey(79), Kyrgyzstan(74), Egypt(78), Morocco(67), Malaysia(58), Tunisia(56).

Some of the indicators are international treaties, participation in peacekeeping force abroad, environment, acts of terrorism, war etc. However, there are other indirect indicators as well such as Nobel Prizes and export of scientific journals. These show that a country has made some contribution to the spread of learning and knowledge to the outside world. This seems interesting.

However, the best country among the worst Islamic countries is Jordan, according to the survey. It ranks at 50 above all the Islamic or Muslim majority countries. There are some reasons for it. The 2010 Arab Democracy index shows Jordan at the top of 15 Arab countries in terms of democratic reforms. Also, on the Corruption Perception Index published in 2010, Jordan ranked 6th among 19 countries in the Middle East and African region and 50th among 176 countries worldwide. Jordan has also been a regional leader in spearheading the efforts United Nations Convention against Corruption. It has laws that promote religious freedom which other Islamic countries like Pakistan do not.

Saudi Arabia also has some reasons to be at the bottom. It has not accepted the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. Also, it has a poor record of human rights and religious freedom in the country.

It is true that Muslim countries are underdeveloped economically and politically and so they do not contribute much on the international level.  They are politically weak and so they do not make much difference to the world order. But the survey seems to have some draw backs because, the Islamic countries in the gulf though may not be doing much on the domestic level, they have indeed contributed much financially to the international humanitarian causes abroad. Though they reportedly fund and aid the terrorist outfits and organisations in the world, they also contribute to the positive causes as well. Saudi Arabia has expended $70 billion dollars on overseas development aid between 1970 to 2002. They have been donating huge sums of money to the third world countries for the spread of education. Other countries in the Arab peninsula and the Gulf also contribute generously to international humanitarian causes. They are also part of world organisations like the UN and endorse their decisions in the interests of the outer world. Perhaps, these aspects have not been taken into consideration. Indeed, on the Science and Technology, Health and Well Being, Prosperity and Equality and International Peace and Security indicators they may have fared badly which has lowered their rankings in the list.

Interestingly, the US has gone down to the 21st spot for which the reasons are obvious. It has meddled in the politics of other countries contributing negatively to the world order and to international peace and security. It invaded Iraq on the pretext of the presence of WMDs there which proved to be a lie. It also destroyed Afghanistan on the pretext of 9/11. It poked its nose in North Korea and had to beat a retreat. After that it wanted to destroy Syria on the pretext of the presence of chemical weapons. It has also trained the terrorists in Jordan and Turkey. It also led the destruction of Libya. For all these reasons, the US should have been assigned a much lower rank.

Russia is another country which has got a low ranking (95) due to its domestic and international disturbances. However, it contributed to maintaining world peace by preventing Syrian war that the US and the NATO countries want to wage. Russia has always contributed to the world peace and order but seems to have suffered the bias of the surveyors.

However, despite its flaws, Good Country Index is a good effort towards making countries feel accountable for their actions and behaviours and encourage them to do more to make the world a better place to live in.