India ranks 143 among 162 countries and fifth out of seven in south Asia for the second year in a row. The cost of containing violence in the country rose by over 90%, from $177 billion in 2013 to $341.7 billion in 2014, or 4.7% of the country’s GDP.
India’s position in the index has worsened since 2008 when it was ranked 138 in the Global Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a Sydney-based global non-profit. Iceland has been ranked the world’s most peaceful country, while Syria fell to the bottom of the pile.
“Military expenditure as a percentage of GDP has risen in India over the past one year. There has also been an increase in the number of security officers and police per hundred thousand people as well as a slight increase in the number of people in jail,” IEP founder & executive chairman Steve Killelea told TOI over phone from London.
Incidentally, India ranks fourth among the 10 countries with the highest cost of violence containment and figures on the list of nine most militarized states.
“India suffers from two issues. For starters, it is a very big nation, and it is difficult to hold so many ethnic groups together. India also has Maoist and border insurrections. It shares a border with Pakistan, which itself has a lot of issues to deal with regarding its internal security,” said Killelea.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) replaced South Asia at the bottom of the regional ranking. South Asia’s ranking improved solely because conditions deteriorated at a faster rate in the MENA region. Meanwhile, Europe remained the world’s most peaceful region, with some European countries achieving historic levels of peace.
Killelea observed a growing inequality in the measure of world peace, with peaceful countries growing even more peaceful, while the situation worsened in conflict-ridden countries.
According to the report, the impact of violence on the global economy reached $14.3 trillion, or 13.4% of global GDP, in the past year, “equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the UK”. The report says the number of people killed in conflicts globally rose from 49,000 in 2010 to 180,000 in 2014.
“If global violence were to decrease by 10% uniformly, an additional $1.43 trillion would effectively be added to the world economy. To put this in perspective, this is more than six times the total value of Greece’s bailout and loans from the IMF, ECB and other Eurozone countries combined,” said Killelea.
Peaceful countries are top arms exporters
Ironically, countries that rank high on the Global Peace Index, such as Norway and Sweden, are big on arms exports. “While we don’t pass moral judgement on countries while drawing up the index, it is true that some of the most peaceful countries are among the top arms exporters,” said IEP executive chairman Steve Killelea.
The US, among the world’s top arms exporters, makes it to the middle of the Global Peace Index, with a rank of 94. “Its nuclear weapons and military expenditure as a percentage of GDP drag its rankings down,” said Killelea.
The UK’s ranking improved after it exited Afghanistan, while the latter remains among the countries at the bottom of the index.