Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Need for a global consensus on Terrorism

A report compiled by NITI Aayog has questioned the methodology adopted by an Australian based institute to rank India as the seventh-worst terrorism affected country.

Despite of being a global threat, there is yet no consensus on the definition of terrorism. Despite the considerable discussion, the formation of a comprehensive convention against international terrorism by the United Nations has always been impeded by the lack of consensus on a definition.

Global Terrorism Index (GTI)

  • GTI is a report published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
  • The index provides a comprehensive summary of the key global trends and patterns in terrorism since 2000.
  • It produces a composite score in order to provide an ordinal ranking of countries on the impact of terrorism.
  • It is an attempt to systematically rank the nations of the world according to terrorist activity.
  • The index combines a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build an explicit picture of the impact of terrorism, illustrating trends, and providing a data series for analysis by researchers and policymakers.

Its database

  • The GTI is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD).
  • The GTD is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland.
  • It has codified over 190,000 cases of terrorism.
  • The GTI covers 163 countries, covering 99.7% of the world’s population.

India’s ranking

  • India has moved to the seventh position from the previous years eighth in the annual Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019.
  • India has ranked ahead of conflict-ridden countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Palestine and Lebanon.

Why such ranking matters?

  • The positioning in the global indices impacted investments and other opportunities.
  • The purpose was to see which of the indices can be used to drive reforms or which of these would require some amount of engagement with the publishing agency to make the indices more relevant.

Issues with GTI

  • The GTD was based solely on “unclassified media articles, with more than 100 structured variables such as each attack’s location, tactics and weapons, perpetrators, casualties and consequences etc.
  • The large diversity in definitions of terrorism amongst countries, and the lack of a universally accepted definition of terrorism, leads to a great deal of ambiguity in calculating and understanding GTI reports.
  • IEP’s economic impact of terrorism model does not account for costs for countering violent extremism and long-term economic impacts on business activity, production and investment.
  • Indeed, the GTI 2019 report itself states that a great majority of property damage values from terrorist incidents are coded in the GTD as ‘unknown,’ resulting in 1 out 4 parameters scoring nil for most countries.
  • Similarly, the definition of mass shootings used in the GTI is limited to ‘indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed by the attacker,’ leaving out lone-wolf attacks.

Highly irrelevant data

  • The absence of a robust data collection and analysis methodology, and any engagement with Governments facing the scourge of terrorism, means that the GTI has low direct value for policymakers.
  • It cannot be used as an aid to understand and alleviate challenges to countries from domestic and cross border terrorism.

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