London: India was on Wednesday ranked low at 141st place on a Global Peace Index making it less peaceful than countries like Burundi, Serbia and Burkina Faso – with violence taking a $680-billion toll on its economy in 2015. In a ranking of 163 countries, compiled by global think tank Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), Syria has been named as the least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
On the other hand, Iceland was ranked as the world's most peaceful country, followed by Denmark and Austria. India has moved up two position, from 141st last year, but the study said the country's peace score has "deteriorated" over the past year – which means the slight rise in ranking could be due to worse performance of others.
The report said that in the last decade, India's position has deteriorated when it comes to peace "by 5 percent largely due to deteriorations in the indicators measuring UN peacekeeping funding and the level of political terror". Within South Asia, Bhutan was ranked best (13th overall rank), while India was fifth followed by Pakistan at sixth (overall 153rd) and Afghanistan (global 160th)."
The report said, "India's scores for ongoing domestic and international conflict and militarisation have deteriorated slightly. The country remains vulnerable to acts of terror and security threats at its shared border with Pakistan. "As such, the number of deaths caused by externally organised terror strikes has risen over the year."
At the same time, Sri Lanka saw the greatest upswing in its score in the region and the report attributed the country's increased peacefulness to "better relations with neighbouring countries, particularly India".
The GPI 2016 ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. It further said that "violence impacted India's economy by $679.80 billion in 2016, 9 percent of India's GDP, or $525 per person".
The economic impact of violence on the global economy touched $13.6 trillion or 13.3 percent of gross world product. The amount is also equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment, it added.
According to the report, world became less peaceful in 2016, mainly on account of increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability. Rankings of 81 countries have improved but the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains. IEP Founder and Executive Chairman Steve Killelea said increasing internationalisation of internal conflicts has coincided with UN peacekeeping funding reaching record highs in 2016.
However, peace building and peacekeeping spending remains proportionately small compared to the economic impact of violence, representing just two percent of global losses from armed conflict, he noted.
"In 2015, violence containment expenditure in India totalled $679.8 billion PPP, an increase of 7 percent from 2008. At 9 percent of GDP this was ranked 65th in the world," Killelea said.
As per the report, addressing the global disparity in peace and achieving an overall 10 percent decrease in the economic impact of violence would produce a peace dividend of $1.36 trillion. This is approximately equivalent to the size of world food exports.