India is among the least peaceful of major countries in the world and is getting even less peaceful year on year.

This was the major finding of the Global Peace Index (GPI) Report an annual publication by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a global think tank focused on researching the relationship between economics, business and peace.

According to the 2010 report, which considered a range of peace-related variables among 149 countries, India’s rank was 128, six ranks lower than its 2009 position.

Some of India’s key neighbours in South Asia ranked in the bottom 20 per cent along with India — Sri Lanka was ranked 133rd, Pakistan 145th, Afghanistan 147th. However, Nepal did much better, ranked in 82nd place and Bangladesh in 87th. Bhutan, ranked at 36th, narrowly missed being in the top 20 per cent of nations.

Commenting on the results, the IEP said, “South Asia saw the greatest decrease in peacefulness, as a result of increased involvement in conflicts, a rise in deaths from internal conflict and human rights abuses. It added, “The main countries experiencing decreases in peacefulness were India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.”

The report’s authors also observed that, overall, the world became “slightly less peaceful in the past year”, adding that in some nations, an intensification of conflicts and growing instability appears to be linked to the global economic downturn in late 2008 and early 2009.

Hinting at the possibility that rapid development might have brought more conflict in its wake the IEP also noted, “Three BRIC countries — Russia (143), India (128) and China (80) — saw substantial declines in peacefulness.” However Brazil’s score remained essentially stable (83) compared to the 2009 Index.

While most developed countries including those of Western Europe and Canada, ranked in the top 20 per cent of peaceful nations, the United States was an anomaly in this regard, ranking at 85th, outranked by countries such as Rwanda, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ranked low in Asia-Pacific region

India also ranked 19th out of 25 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The leader in the region, New Zealand, was also the most peaceful nation globally. Close on its heels were Iceland and Japan. Iraq was estimated to be the least peaceful among all countries, accompanied at the bottom of the table by Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.

The identification and weighting of indicators in the GPI, which is compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was undertaken by an international panel of experts in the study of peace.

“How peaceful a country is depends on the internal structures, institutions, and attitudes that sustain and promote peace as well as on external factors,” said Clyde McConaghy, board director of the IEP.

He added, “This year’s top five countries, and more peaceful countries in general, have certain things in common: well functioning governments, stable business environments, respect for human rights, low levels of corruption, high rates of participation in education, and freedom of information.”