Why in news?

  • A report compiled by Niti Aayog has questioned the methodology adopted by an Australian based institute – Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)- to rank India as the seventh worst terrorism affected country.
  • This IEP’s report has put India ahead of conflict-ridden countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Palestine and Lebanon.
  • India has moved to the seventh position from the previous year’s eighth in the annual Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019.
  • The countries ahead of India (meaning, affected more than India by terrorism) are Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Pakistan and Somalia.
  • The Cabinet Secretariat asked Niti Aayog to track 32 such global indices to see how they could help drive reforms and growth.

Issues with the report and the Institute that generated it

  • The Methodology used was questioned because it shows India to be affected more by terrorism than countries that are in a crisis being ridden with terrorism like Sudan.
  • The report also questions the opaque funding of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
  • It is also surprising that an organization is able to annually collect, meaningfully analyse and disseminate data about 163 countries in the Global Terrorism and Peace Indices and provide country wise national peace reports with just 24 staff members and 6 volunteers.
  • While the GTD claims to analyse more than two million open source media reports published each day, it lacks any mechanism to engage with Governments or to further classify and verify such open source media reports through Government databases in any of the 163 countries it covers.
  • The large diversity in definitions of terrorism amongst countries, and the lack of a universally accepted definition of terrorism, including in the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism pending in the UN General Assembly since 2014, leads to a great deal of ambiguity in calculating and understanding GTI reports.
  • IEP’s economic impact of terrorism model does not account for costs for countering violent extremism and long-term economic impacts on business activity, production and investment.

Significance and Impact of this report

  • The GTI report issued by the IEP is based primarily on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, besides other sources.
  • GTI scores are directly used in the Global Peace Index, the Global Slavery Report published by the Walk Free Foundation, and indirectly used in computing country scores in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness and Global Competitiveness Indices and compilation of Safe Cities Index by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • An official said the positioning in the global indices impacted investments and other opportunities.

Conclusion of the report against IEP’s Index

The absence of a robust data collection and analysis methodology, and any engagement with Governments facing the scourge of terrorism, means that the Global Terrorism Index has low direct value for policymakers and cannot be used as an aid to understand and alleviate challenges to countries from domestic and cross border terrorism.

Global Terrorism Index 2019

India's position and GTI Score in Global Terrorism Index GTI 2019

Terror groups in India

  • SATP (South Asia Terrorism Portal) has listed 180 terrorist groups that have operated within India over the last 20 years, many of them co-listed as transnational terror networks operating in or from neighboring South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
  • Of these, 38 are on the current list of terrorist-organisations banned by India under its First Schedule of the UA(P) Act, 1967.
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