Violence cost India over $340 billion, nearly 4.7% of its GDP, last year, while more people are now displaced globally by conflict and other crises than at any other time in history since World War II, according to a report by a leading Australian research centre.
The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) ranked India a lowly 143 out of 162 nations in its Global Peace Index (GPI), with only Pakistan and Afghanistan faring worse in South Asia as scores of most countries in the region slipped.
“The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of India's levels of violence was estimated to cost the national economy $341.7 billion in 2014,” the report said. “This is equivalent to 4.7% of India's GDP, or $273 per person.”
Moreover, in the past eight years since the index was first introduced, India slid by 6% largely due to “deteriorations in indicators measuring deaths from external conflict, political terror and perceptions of criminality.”
Escalating civil strife and the consequent refugee crisis have been among the key drivers in increasing the expenses of containing violence that inflicted a $14.3 trillion burden on the global economy last year, the study noted.
Iceland emerged as the world’s most peaceful nation, while Syria as the most restive.
“Large increases in costs have occurred due to deaths from internal conflict, IDPs [internally displaced people] and refugee support, UN peacekeeping and GDP losses from conflict,” said the report.
Despite conflict in the Ukraine, Europe continues to experience historic levels of peace, with a decrease in murder rates and the withdrawal of forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In contrast, countries such as Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan and Central African Republic made the bottom of the list, turning less peaceful.
The number of people killed in conflict rose to 180,000 in 2014 from 49,000 four years ago, while 73 million people, or 1% of the world population, have been forced to leave their homes amid a spike in armed conflict since 2010.
“The year 2014 was marked by two contradictory trends: on the one hand, many countries in the OECD achieved historic levels of peace while on the other, strife-torn nations, especially in the Middle East, became more violent,” said IEP founder and executive chairman Steve Killelea.
The latest GPI showed 81 countries had become more peaceful in the past year, while 78 recorded deepening violence.
In 2014, 69 countries recorded deaths from terrorism, up from 60 the previous year, with Nigeria now the second most deadly country in this category after Iraq.