– Devika Kannan, Programme Officer
During the 1990s, the ruling political parties in Uttar Pradesh (UP) were dominated by the upper castes, who made little effort to develop the backward classes. Unrest among backward classes caused law and order problems, including demonstrations. On several such incidents, the police fired on the assemblage. Even in 2004-05, there were as many as 1.40 police firing incidents per million population in UP; in contrast, there were only 0.14 such incidents in the southern state of Tamil Nadu (TN). Open police firing represents the intensity and extent of inter-group conflicts and, hence, is a strong representation of the absence of peace and affects society negatively. Often, people are reluctant to shift to a city perceived to be unsafe. So, law and order is a necessity for development.
More murders are committed per million population (110) in the northern states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (BIMARU) than in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu; 93 murders per million population. Also, crimes related to women are worse in northern states (rape: 133 per million population; dowry deaths: 40 per million population) than in southern states (rape: 85 per million population; dowry deaths: 12 per million population).
This brings us to the number of police personnel required to maintain law and order in a state. Higher the number of police personnel, safer the state. Southern states have a total of 529 police personnel per 100,000 population; there are only 382 police personnel in the north.
According to the authors of The Paradox of India’s North-South Divide: Lessons from the States and Regions, ‘Despite improvements in law and order, if the public image of a place is that it is disorderly, it can negatively impact investment decisions and retention of a skilled workforce.’
So, what do you think of law and order in the north and south?