Is violence going up in Kashmir and Maoist infested regions?

The pre-dominant narrative on social media is that the situation in Kashmir is getting worse and 'something' must be done. In Chhattisgarh, the State's improving social metrics count to nothing for many given the recent Sukma massacre. So what is the truth, is violence going up in these two States?


Using SATP collated data, here is the summary of trends in Kashmir

If we look at the 27 years of insurgency in Kashmir, violence is close to historic lows. For example, in 2007, 10 years ago, some 164 security personnel were killed in Kashmir. Last year about 88 Security personnel were Killed. In the year 2001, just before India mobilised troops after the Parliament attack, some 1067 soldiers were killed in insurgent attacks. In other words, we lost about 89 soldiers a month in 2001, last year we lost 88 soldiers in the whole year. 
Let us now look at Maoist related violence
We have data from 2005 and that is a little unfortunate given that the PWG was active long before that. That said, in 2007, we lost 192 security personnel during the entire year. This is now down to 66. The peak security personnel deaths during this period was in 2009 when 312 security forces were killed. That amounts to 26 per month. Essentially, we lost in 2 and half months of 2009 as many security personnel we have lost in the whole of 2016.

Why then is it appearing that things are getting worse?

See the Chart for Kashmir again, now for a shorter time period

When you look at a much shorter period and which coincides with the triple boom - Smartphone penetration growth, Social Media Boom and Massive increase in news consumption, you realise that the trend of security forces death is up significantly. In fact, we lost 88 security force personnel in 2016 which is almost the same as the sum of 2014 and 2015

What happens in case of Maoist violence?

The trend is quite dissimilar to Kashmir. While Violence is up in 2016 versus 2014, overall the trends are headed downwards. However, the following table will explain why people are so worried about Left wing violence

When one looks at major incidents during the last 5 years. In 2015, a major incident was reported once in 6 months. It went up to once in 4 months in 2016. It escalated significantly to almost once a month in the first 4 months of 2017. The increasing frequency of significant attacks in 2017 has caught the attention of social media and therefore moving up in importance and concern. 

The data overall seems to suggest that India is in a much better place than ever in the last 25 years. But then it is also true that there is an escalation during the last 16 months. However, the levels are significantly lower than their peaks or even 10 years ago. It is a matter of concern but does not demand panic. 

Social Media users must be mindful of their power

The power of social media is immense as mainstream media editors are increasingly using social media to prioritize news items. While this may be financially lucrative for them, it may deliver undue and inefficient pressure on the Government and not necessarily help the country in anway. There is no doubt that citizens have the right to be concerned about the deaths of soldiers, but the intensity of pressure should commensurate with the scale of the problem.

For example, while we are busy debating a host of issues that involves national politics and security, labour force participation has apparently slipped to below 45% in the latest CMIE surveys. Essentially, a 'majority' of working age Indians are not even looking for a job. This does not augur well for future growth and development of the country. Perhaps this issue too needs the attention of Social media users. 

On a related note, the global culture survey expert Geert Hoffstede says that Indians were a restrained people (on an average) and were low on Indulgence. Countries that scored low on Indulgence in Hoffstede's culture survey tended to be less happier than countries that scored high on indulgence. To quote the report

India receives a low score of 26 in this dimension, meaning that it is a culture of Restraint. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to Indulgent societies, Restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are Restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong. 

A team lease survey suggests that working Indians spend a massive 3.5 hours on social media everyday with nearly 2.35 hours of time at work being spent on social media. Assuming a certain level of inaccuracy in the survey, it is clear, we Indians are spending too much time on the phone/laptop and too little time socializing We are now ranked amongst the unhappiest countries in the world, it is perhaps time to re-think what we are doing with our spare time?


Political Consultant

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