By Brian Finlay, Johan Bergenas and Esha Mufti – The upcoming presidential election in India has highlighted once again how the dark side of globalization threatens to undermine our common security-this time in the world’s largest democracy. Over the weekend, BJP Member of Parliament and potential presidential contender Ram Jethmalani accused India’s current Finance Minister and presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, of taking insufficient steps to deal with illicit outflows of money from India.1 In a nation that has hemorrhaged an estimated USD $125 billion in illicit outflows of cash in an eight year window, the economic ramifications of this crime now threaten to undermine legitimacy in government and stability across the region.2
Money laundering is not only a challenge for India, but for its South Asian neighbors as well. Together with other intersecting regional challenges-small arms and drug trafficking, terrorism, and the proliferation of advanced weaponry-it conspires to undermine the significant strides South Asian states have made in the recent past.
As a direct result of globalization and expanded economic opportunity, the last half century has yielded the most remarkable exodus from poverty in human history. Regrettably, not all have benefitted equally. No more complex example of this continued disparity can be found than in South Asia where despite a long period of strong economic growth, there exists the world’s largest concentration of poor people-more than 500 million continue to live on less than USD 1.25 a day.3
In this report, co-authors Brian Finlay, senior associate and director of the Managing Across Boundaries (MAB) program, and Johan Bergenas, research analyst and deputy director of MAB, and Esha Mufti, research assistant with MAB hone in on South Asia-a region plagued by myriad of “soft security” and development challenges-and propose a “whole of society” approach that seeks to better leverage existing resources, identify new streams of assistance, and bridge the divide between security and development. The report is the fourth in a series that seeks innovative approaches to implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1373 by pragmatically pairing states in need of development assistance with those states willing to offer such assistance under the auspices of national security.