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On insecurity scale, east shivers more
- Social and financial worries dog region, says threat survey

New Delhi, May 6: Half the people in the eastern region of the country feel insecure about the society in which they live and more than half are economically insecure. In the rest of the country, most people feel secure about their communities and social environs but are dissatisfied with their economic circumstances.

This is brought out in a survey on “Public Perceptions of Security in India” carried out by AC Nielsen for a Chennai-based think tank, Centre for Security Analysis (CSA).

The results of the study commissioned by the Chennai-based organisation in 2003 have just been released. A total of 2,024 respondents drawn from 13 cities and towns ' Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kochi, Patna and Guwahati ' were asked to rate different kinds of threat perceptions.

The CSA counts among its founder members the national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, and the former director-general of military operations, Lt General (retired) V.R. Raghavan.

“About 60 per cent of respondents claimed to feel highly secure or somewhat secure in present day society. Out of this, a majority of respondents were from the northern region, while (in the) eastern region (respondents) appeared to feel more insecure in comparison,” writes Raghavan in the introduction of the report presenting the results of the survey.

The survey suggests that the relatively higher level of social insecurity in the east “could be attributed to the fact that the region has a very large number of ethnic groups, often in conflict with each other. The eastern region has also witnessed and continues to be affected by ethnic killings. Especially, the north-eastern region is more vulnerable to threats of migration and societal marginalisation in addition to insurgency and terrorism-based issues' as compared to other regions”, the survey suggests.

In the northern region, 70 per cent of respondents felt secure. Absence of religious or caste-based violence, good law and order situation, “I have never faced any discrimination” and “in our area we are all cooperative” were the reasons cited for feeling secure in society. There was little difference between men and women on this, as on other security threats.

“While intuitively, it would appear that women might feel more insecure in society as compared to men, the data from the current study do not appear to bear out that assumption,” the survey notes.

The CSA survey collected data and responses along seven security dimensions:

External threat (military threat from other countries)

Internal threat (terrorism, bomb blasts, insurgents, militancy)

Personal physical security (crime, hunger, starvation)

Economic security (employment, job security, income, economic opportunity and future)

Societal security (threats by virtue of one being a minority or based on caste and religion)

Environmental security (vehicular and industrial pollution, water shortages)

Political security (threat due to differences in political thought and ideology).

Across the country, a majority of the respondents (62 per cent) felt there was a serious external/military threat.

The highest threat perception was in the north. About 80 per cent of the respondents in the north and south cited Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir as their reason for viewing Pakistan as the biggest military threat.

About 60 per cent of respondents felt “highly insecure” or “somewhat insecure” with the economic situation. In the east, a little more than 75 per cent said they were economically insecure. About 52 per cent in the west agreed.

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