By MANOJ JOSHI13 January 2013
When Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal coined the phrase "soft state" in the early 1960s, he did have countries such as India in mind.
What he was speaking of was states that had low expectations from its citizens.
Today, the phrase is used to refer to countries like India in a different way - as states which, despite their size and power, are unable to exercise the influence that should by right be theirs.
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol along the India-Bangladesh border at Fulbari on the outskirts of Siliguri
China has invested heavily in the Burmese army
Geography gives Pakistan a big advantage in the post-American pullout phase in Afghanistan
India is larger than all the other South Asian nations combined, but despite its size and economy, it looks like a pitiable giant in the neighbourhood.
Whether it is Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Nepal - leave alone Pakistan - cocking a snook at India is par for the course.
Take Sri Lanka, a country for whose security more than 1,000 soldiers and officers of the Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) laid down their lives.
Yet, today, Colombo keeps New Delhi at an arm's length and ignores the politically sensitive Indian concern over the rehabilitation of its Tamil minority.