With over 1.2 billion people according to its 2011 census, India has one-sixth of the world's population. While the country is on its way to being the world's most populous country by 2030, it is far from the most violent. Even so, some 32,000 to 38,000 Indians die violently each year, nearly five per cent of all violent deaths worldwide. Crime is declining in much of the country, but violence grows worse in other regions, especially terrorism and insurgency, as does attention to political, caste, and religious violence and violence against women.
India is significantly influenced by problems spilling over from neighbouring countries, including terrorism, separatism, and illicit arms trafficking. Many of India's neighbours are plagued with armed conflicts--including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar--or emerging from long periods of conflict, such as Sri Lanka. Despite these challenges, regional efforts to prevent and reduce armed violence have been marginal.
Other factors shaping armed violence can be traced to domestic challenges. These include regional separatism, the home-grown Maoist (Naxalite) movement, gender-based aggression, organized crime and drug trafficking, political intimidation, caste violence, communal tensions. These are not insignificant challenges: the Maoist insurgency alone has spread to one-third of the country. Meanwhile, some of the most extreme violence in India is concentrated in particular cities, including the New Delhi national capital region.
The India Armed Violence Assessment (IAVA) was established in 2010 by the Small Arms Survey, a research organization and part of The Graduate Institute, Geneva. The Delhi-based IAVA is developing comprehensive evidence on the contours of causes and elements of Indian violence. The project promotes evidence-based analysis, bring together official and non-governmental experts, and social science research communities. In this way it facilitates better understanding of the causes and consequences of insecurity, and helps build new synergies between research and policy. The IAVA seeks to better integrate Indian perspectives in global dialogues on armed violence and insure the country reaps the full benefit of global trends in research and policy-making.