Weekly briefing: The world’s biggest election

A weekly round-up of relevant IEP data providing insight into the world around us.

After around 600 million ballots were cast in the world’s second most populous country, the results for India’s election are rolling in. Early counting is showing that incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi will continue to lead the country for another five years. The election race was mainly contested by the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Modi, and the opposition Congress party, fronted by Rahul Gandhi. Reports say Modi’s party could expect to claim a larger share of the vote than in the 2014 elections. About 67 per cent of the country’s eligible voters turned up on election day, a record high level of participation since India claimed independence and held their first election. With around 8000 candidates, 545 seats, and a six-week campaign, India’s election is believed to be the world’s most expensive, costed at an estimated $7 billion.

India by the numbers

Global rank: 136 out of 163 countries, on the Global Peace Index.
Regional rank: 5 out of 7 countries in South Asia.
Terrorism: India ranks 7 out of 163 countries, showing a high risk.
Positive Peace: 87 out of 163 countries, on the Positive Peace Index.

India is one of the top ten countries most affected by terrorism

In 2018 Global Peace Index, India recorded a slightly improved overall score.

Government efforts to tackle violent crime paid off with an improved score, and falling levels of military expenditure, particularly on weapons imports, resulted in a slight improvement in its militarisation score.

However, the concentration of power in the office of Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to a deterioration in India’s score for political instability, and the country’s scores on the Political Terror Scale and internal conflicts fought, at four and 4.7 respectively, remain elevated.

Source: Global Peace Index

Despite this, India is one of the ten countries most affected by terrorism, ranking seventh out of 163 countries on the Global Terrorism Index.

Deaths from terrorism in India rose to 384 in 2017, a 12 per cent increase. The scope of terrorism and violent conflict in India is particularly broad, with 51 different terrorist groups being responsible for at least one terrorist attack in 2017, and 25 groups being responsible for at least one terrorism death.

While deaths from 2016 to 2017 increased by 12 per cent, deaths in India have been on a downward trend since they peaked in 2008 at 775 deaths.

However, incidents in India are on the rise, with 2017 having the second highest number of terrorist incidents on record with 886 attacks. Only 2016 had more terror incidents. These attacks were carried out by a number of smaller Islamist and nationalist terrorist groups, with 35 separate groups being responsible for five incidents or fewer in 2017.

Source: Global Peace Index

The deadliest group in India is the country’s communist party – The Communist Party of India (Maoists). Maoists were responsible for 205 deaths and 190 terror incidents in India, or 53 per cent of deaths in 2017.

The Maoists, otherwise known as the Naxals after their first appearance in the village of Naxalbari, directly oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. The group has been active for several decades with 2010 its deadliest year on record. Maoist assailants frequently stage attacks against the Central Reserve Police Force and other armed forces throughout the country’s northern and central territories. The north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir had the most deaths in 2017, with 102 deaths committed by five different terror groups, most notably Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-eMohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

Lashkar-e-Taiba, the most active Islamist terror group in India, was responsible for 10 per cent of deaths in 2017. The same group was also responsible for the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that killed over 160 people in the siege of the Oberoi Trident Hotel.

The remaining 37 per cent of terror deaths were committed by 21 different groups, further highlighting the wide distribution of terrorist groups in India.