Bapu’s shame India is one of the most violent countries in the world, and the situation has been steadily deteriorating T.C.A Sharad Raghavan
| My giving is determined by my religion Big data for big difference If Mahatma Gandhi were alive today, he would march straight out of India. A far cry from Gandhiji’s pledge of non-violence, India is one of the most violent countries in the world, and has been getting worse over the years. The Global Peace Index 2014 (released in June this year) ranks India 143rd out of 162 countries in terms of how peaceful it is. And that rank has been steadily falling—from a score of 2.35 and a rank of 107 in 2008 to a current score of 2.57 now.
The index rates countries on 22 parameters ranging from the number of police personnel per 100,000 people to the homicide rate to terrorist acts and deaths in conflict (both internal and external). Several of these parameters are externally motivated, such as spending on defence and arms imports, so the blame does not lie solely with India. For example, the report says India accounts for 14% of the volume of international arms imports, up from 7% in 2008. As the report goes on to acknowledge, this increased spending is in response to an increasingly aggressive Chinese foreign policy.
Similarly, India’s poor score (4 out of 5) when it comes to terrorist acts can be laid down to strained relationships with our other neighbours—Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, not all of India’s poor peace showing can be ascribed to outside forces. Several of the parameters are purely internal, and India scores poorly there too. For example, what can explain why India scores a very poor 4 out of 5 when it comes to access to small arms and light weapons? The report defines a score of 4 as “there are basic regulations, but they are not effectively enforced; obtaining firearms is straightforward.”
Similarly, India scores the lowest possible score (1 out 5) in terms of the number of police personnel per 100,000 people. Basically, that means we have less than 200 police per one lakh of our population. It is likely a combination of these two factors that sees India scoring 3 out of 5 in the ‘level of violent crimes’ parameter. India scores 4 out of 5 in political terror—a measure of the political violence and terror a country faces each year. That means “civil and political rights violations have expanded to large numbers of the population. Murders, disappearances, and torture are a common part of life. In spite of its generality, on this level terror affects those who interest themselves in politics or ideas,” according to the report. And this holds across political regimes, with India registering the same score in 2013 as well.
The 13 internal parameters have a higher average score of 2.78 out of 5 than the nine external parameters (2.55). Given that both factors have the same weightage, that means internal reasons have more to do with India’s deteriorating peace rankings. The previous editions of the index—barring the 2013 one—did not provide disaggregated scores and so we can’t tell how India has changed in each parameter.
But, given that none of the scores have changed from 2013 to the current report, it can be said that there has been no recent improvement at all. The Global Peace Index has been computed from 2007 onwards, and with a fall in rank by 34 places since then, India is in the same league as Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Sudan, which saw their ranks fall 38, 34, 39 and 37 places, respectively. That just says it all. Happy Gandhi Jayanti to you!
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