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Global Peace Index: Ranking India 143rd of 162 countries, study warns Maoist insurgency is biggest challenge

By Rajiv Shah
A top international non-profit think-tank, based in Sydney, New York and Oxford, has ranked India a poor No 143rd in global peace index among 162 countries it surveyed on the basis of the data sourced from the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the World Bank, various UN Agencies, peace institutes and the EIU. The only consolation for India is, Pakistan ranks 156th, Israel 149th, and Russia 152nd. The best performer is the tiny Nordic country Iceland, ranking No1. Japan ranks No 8th, the US 101st, and the UK 47th.
Carried out by the Institute of Economics and Peace, the study, titled “Global Peace Index 2014: Measuring and Assessment Country Risk”, claims, “The index has been tested against a range of potential “drivers” or determinants of peace—including levels of democracy and transparency, education and national wellbeing.” It warns India, that it “suffers chronically from international strife and widespread internal conflict.”
Specifically referring to the Maoist movements, the study says, these “are the biggest threat to India's internal security”, even as adding, “Sporadic conflict with China and Pakistan threaten the country's external security.” It further says, “An estimated 65 operational terror groups compound the challenge of maintaining peace in the world's biggest democracy.”
In its Peace Deficit Analysis, the study says, India’s democratic institutions, no doubt, are strongly entrenched and the electoral process is largely peaceful, as seen in the recent elections where in nine phases from April 7 to May 12 2014, with 100m new young voters went to the polls.
However, things will not be easy for the BJP-led government at the Centre, it warns. Faced with the challenge of meeting the rising demands of an expectant population, the study says, India scores low at 36 out of 100 in Transparency Internationals Corruption Perceptions Index. While the the voting process was “fair and the results undisputed”, it says, “that in itself will not resolve India’s multiple internal conflicts.”
“India’s internal conflicts originate from the existence of several ethnic groups, terrorist camps and state-level independence movements. India is ranked number four out of 159 countries in the Global Terrorism Index. The Maoist insurgency movement, known for its left-wing extremism, is among the strongest of these internal threats”, the study says, though refusing to mention communal strife in Gujarat, UP, Assam and other parts of India.
It underlines, “The movement began in the eastern state of West Bengal in the 1960s and, according to some estimates, encompasses over 20,000 armed rebels. The Maoists have a particularly strong presence in the eastern and south-western states of India. In the past, they have been known to attack security officers and civilians alike.”
The study points out, the Maoist extremists’ “popularity is based on their fight for communist rule in a society marked by rising socioeconomic inequalities and their strongest support can be found in far-flung rural areas, as they claim to be furthering the cause of landless peasants and the rural poor. India’s diverse population has also resulted in several pockets of ethnic conflict, whereby there are some active and some dormant statehood movements.”
According to the study, “Extremist groups demanding independent states are especially active in the north-east of the country and many dormant movements were revived when the government decided to carve out the new state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh in south India. Further, despite its democratic credentials, India scores quite poorly on the Political Terror Scale, 4 out of 5 (5 representing a state of total suppression), thereby further nurturing the ground for political strife.”
Sharply attacking the country’s huge defence budget, the study says, “India‘s spending on defence is among the highest in the world—according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in March, India's imports of major weapons rose by 111 percent between 2008 and 2013. India now accounts for 14 percent of the volume of international arms imports, up from 7 percent in 2008.”
“This increase in defence spending is mainly a response to China's increasingly threatening foreign policy. The strained relations with Pakistan similarly add to India's security concerns. The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 was characterised by violence and turmoil and, since then, border disputes over Kashmir in northern India have ensured frequent conflict, including three major wars between the two countries”, the study underscores.
Suggesting that it is “believed that several terrorist groups that target India are based in Pakistan and recruit actively in Kashmir”, the study says, “Relations with Bangladesh are equally strained, both by disputes over water rights and a porous 4,000-kmlong border that has allowed a huge inflow of illegal immigrants into India.”
It points out, “Several terrorist groups with an anti-lndia agenda also operate from Bangladesh and, in recent years, this has led the government to crack down on their operations. China and India also have unresolved border disputes, in Kashmir in the north and Arunachal Pradesh in the east. These disputes have resulted in one war and several lesser conflicts to date.”

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