South Asia Records 127% Increase in Violent Demonstrations Since 2008

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In addition to the human impact, violence imposes gargantuan economic costs on individuals, communities and nations.

Shibra Farhat | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — During the Ram Navami celebrations, the annual religious gathering of the Hindus, large-scale and systematic violence broke out in several states in India that resulted in the vandalisation of many mosques and other Muslim institutions..

The violence-hit states included West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana and Maharashtra. In some places, only sporadic clashes were reported but some states experienced riot-like situations. West Bengal and Bihar were two of the most affected states.

These types of violent demonstrations have also been reported across the globe in recent years, especially in South Asia. The Global Peace Index (GPI) Report 2022 by the Institute of Economics and Peace reveals that violent demonstrations increased by 127% in the region of South Asia during the last 14 years, while the global increase rate has nearly been 50%.

Events incorporating violence are becoming more frequent. Among 23 Global Peace Index indicators, violent demonstrations recorded the worst deterioration, changing by 49.6% since 2008. Since then 126 countries have deteriorated while only 22 have recorded an improvement in terms of violent demonstrations.

By 2022 South Asia region had the highest frequency and intensity of violent demonstrations. In nine of the GPI regions, only the Middle East and North America have improved in terms of violent demonstrations and the rest have experienced deterioration.

The situation in South Asia continuously deteriorated in the 2010s, with an overall deterioration of 127% from 2008-2022. As per the report, there have been a large number of ethnically and religiously motivated riots in India throughout the 2010s. For instance, violence broke out between indigenous inhabitants of Assam region and Bengali-speaking Muslims. This led to the displacement of 400,000 people and the death of 77 locals. Farmers’ protests in India in 2020 and 2021, riots between two communities in Sri Lanka in 2018–19, and in 2019 Pakistanis taking to the streets demanding new elections — these incidents contributed to the deterioration in the region.

The economic impact of violence

In addition to the human impact, violence imposes gargantuan economic costs on individuals, communities and nations.

The overall global impact of violence in 2021 was almost 5 times the Indian GDP. The global impact of violence on the economy amounted to $16.5 trillion in purchasing power parity terms. This was equivalent to 10.9% of the global GDP in the particular year, or we can say 2,117 dollars were spent per person. The year 2021 saw an increase of 12.4% from the previous year. 

For the year 2021, North America was on top with an impact of 4,337 billion dollars and an increased rate of 7.6 per cent from the previous year. The Middle East and North America registered the highest increase rate of 31.7% with an impact of 1,796 billion dollars, which was fourth. South Asia remained at fifth position with an impact of 1,435 billion dollars and an increase of 7.6% from 2020. Violence cost India 6,45,842 million dollars in the year 2021, which amounted to 6% of its GDP.

The Lakhimpur Kheri case during the farmers’ protests was the most notorious violent act in 2021. India has spent an average of 6.4% of its GDP in the span of five years from 2017 to 2021. Syria has been spending the highest share of its GDP as the economic cost of the civil war. Violence cost 80% of its GDP to Syria in 2021 which was reduced by 2% from the previous year.

Cover photo: Police Personnel stand guard at the violence-hit area amid tension after a clash broke out during ‘Ram Navmi’ at Rishra area in Hooghly District, West Bengal on April 04, 2023. — IANS

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