India
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    Profile

    India

    Capital

    New Delhi

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 2,868,929.42 million

    Income group

    Lower middle income

    Population

    1,366,417,754

    Area

    3,287,259 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    5.53

    Criminality score

    64th of 193 countries

    21st of 46 countries in Asia

    4th of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Criminal market

    6.30

    Human trafficking

    7.00

    Human smuggling

    6.00

    Arms trafficking

    5.50

    Flora crimes

    5.50

    Fauna crimes

    8.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    7.00

    Heroin trade

    6.50

    Cocaine trade

    3.50

    Cannabis trade

    7.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.50

    Criminal actors

    4.75

    Mafia-style groups

    3.50

    Criminal networks

    6.00

    State-embedded actors

    6.00

    Foreign actors

    3.50

    5.25

    Resilience score

    72nd of 193 countries

    14th of 46 countries in Asia

    1st of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    4.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    7.50

    National policies and laws

    4.50

    Judicial system and detention

    5.00

    Law enforcement

    5.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    5.00

    5.25 4.75 6.30 5.25 4.75 6.30

    5.25

    Resilience score

    72nd of 193 countries

    14th of 46 countries in Asia

    1st of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    4.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    7.50

    National policies and laws

    4.50

    Judicial system and detention

    5.00

    Law enforcement

    5.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    5.00

    Analysis

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    People

    India has a large domestic and transnational human-trafficking market, and serves as a source, destination and transit country. Trafficking in India primarily takes the form of young women and girls being trafficked to Gulf countries for the purposes of sexual exploitation, followed by men trafficked into Nepal, Bangladesh and many other destinations for forced labour. Children are also targets of trafficking, with Kolkata and Mumbai being major hubs for underage girls lured into sexual exploitation and forced marriages through false promises of employment. Human trafficking is expected to rise as a result of the mass unemployment crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and traffickers are increasingly using social media, which makes it harder for authorities to track the practice.

    West Bengal and the Punjab regions have well-entrenched human-smuggling operations, largely meeting local demands for emigration. Recently, however, there have been changes in smuggling behaviour, with routes emerging to less popular countries, such as Denmark – most likely as a consequence of clampdowns on irregular movement by the more common destination countries. Ethnic and religious tensions in India suggest irregular migration may increase in the short term, with a large Indian diaspora to facilitate this irregular movement.

    Trade

    India is a source, transit and destination country for illegal arms. Transnational arms smuggling primarily supplies international terror groups and national insurgencies with weapons smuggled through border states such as Kashmir and West Bengal. Demand for smuggled arms is especially driven by the presence of violent insurgent groups, particularly in Kashmir. They are supplied with illegal arms that come across the border from Pakistan. The porous borders, especially with Bangladesh, where smuggling methods are particularly sophisticated, as well as China and Myanmar, create ideal conditions to smuggle arms. India’s states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh serve as hotbeds of gun manufacturing. The flow, accessibility and affordability of illegal arms in India have served to normalize gun culture, and the number of crimes involving guns is increasing.

    Environment

    The domestic market for flora-related crimes is smaller compared to other environmental crime markets in the country, mostly consisting of illegal harvesting of and trade in medicinal plants or non-timber forest products. Locals in forest areas often harvest plants illegally to pay off debts to agents, who also function as moneylenders, perpetuating a cycle of debt and illegal plant collection. However, the COVID-19 lockdowns have changed the market dynamics quite a bit and resulted in a significant spike in illicit logging and increased timber-smuggling. India also plays a significant role as a destination country, and its import of illegal timber is the third largest globally, accounting for 10% of the global illegal wood trade.

    India is primarily a source country for illegally poached animals or animal products, especially pangolins, rhino horn and Bengali tigers, pushing them all onto the endangered species list. Nagpur is one of the main hotspots in the wildlife trade due to the city's proximity to eight wildlife reserves, and the Bahelia community from Madhya Pradesh has become famous over the past couple of decades for engaging in tiger poaching gained notoriety for tiger poaching in the past decades. Most illegal wildlife is moved by bus or train, but large numbers of Indian wildlife species and their derivatives have also been traded in online marketplaces. Similarly to the flora market, wildlife poaching in the country has expanded significantly following the COVID-19 lockdowns.

    Organized crime surrounding non-renewable resources, especially sand and gold, is widespread in India. Illegal sand networks – often referred to collectively as the 'sand mafia' – are made up of contractors, politicians, trade union leaders, local officials, corrupt policemen and revenue officials. The sand market is estimated to be worth US$70 billion, and 40 billion tonnes of sand are exported every year (only 15 billion tonnes are extracted legally). The criminal networks involved are loose and decentralized, and operate throughout the country. Illegal sand mining has led to depletion of the water table, damage to crops, loss of livelihood for agricultural workers and a rise in violent crime, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

    As for gold, India is one of the world’s leading manufacturing centres and one of its largest smuggling hubs, with a third of the world’s gold passing through its borders, amounting to more than 1000 tonnes a year. Smuggled gold originates predominantly from conflicts in Africa and South America as well as from the United Arab Emirates.

    Drugs

    The illegal cannabis market is one of India’s most pervasive illicit drug markets. Cannabis cultivated in India is of high quality and enjoys worldwide demand. Domestically, cannabis has a large traditional and ceremonial role in Indian culture, and several major cities in India have among the highest cannabis consumption rates in the world. Despite its cultivation and trade being partially restricted, certain areas have legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use.

    Heroin is similarly highly pervasive in India, with the country playing a role as a source, transit and destination country for the drug. Despite eradication efforts, illegal poppy cultivation remains widespread in India, and the epidemic of domestic opiate addiction is growing. The north-eastern state of Manipur was the first hub for heroin to leave India through its border with Myanmar. Distribution networks in this region often enjoy the patronage of influential local politicians and corrupt policemen. The revenue is linked to funding arms trafficking along its border into Bangladesh. The western coast of India is a common entry point for heroin smugglers from Pakistan and Afghanistan moving heroin through India to Europe and North America, although the border is highly guarded and state intervention is more rigorous. Money earned from heroin trafficking in the west is reported to finance the activities of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Furthermore, India is a key production country, as well as a transit point, for synthetic drugs. Codeine-based drugs produced in India are trafficked through multiple exit points across the border and into Myanmar and Bangladesh, as are the drug yaba, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. A significant proportion of the Tramadol seized worldwide originates from India, and Tramadol addiction is spreading throughout the country. The cocaine market, on the other hand, is far smaller in scope in India. Nevertheless, cocaine smuggling has risen in recent years due to drug syndicates increasingly using the dark web and cryptocurrencies for distribution. Historically, cocaine is smuggled into the country by criminal actors from African states, but recently cocaine has been sourced from other destinations, such as Afghanistan and several countries in South America.

    Criminal Actors

    A small number of mafia-style groups exist in India, the most prominent being the D-Company. This criminal group, which also engages in terrorist activity, uses Mumbai as its principal hub and operates in a number of criminal markets. In recent years, the group has diversified and expanded its international reach significantly. Furthermore, there are a number of groups in India, such as the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army and the Naxalites, that are primarily driven by ideological motives, but that systematically engage in organized criminal activity to generate income. These groups operate mainly in central and eastern areas and along the Indo-Myanmar border and Jharkhand. There are also various ‘sand mafia’ groups managing the illicit mining and trade of sand, and carrying out low-level violence against police and journalists investigating their markets. Loosely organized criminal networks feature heavily in India’s organized-crime landscape. They are spread throughout the country and engage in a number of criminal markets, such as drug and human trafficking, as well as wildlife poaching.

    While the judiciary remains largely uncompromised and police involvement with mafia organizations is very limited, low-level state officials are more involved with poaching, trafficking and illicit mining, with participation ranging from facilitation to active management. The level of criminal activity and corruption within India’s parliament is growing, and the economic damage caused by COVID-19 is likely to exacerbate this. With regard to foreign criminal actors, Nigerian nationals have a significant share of India’s drug-trafficking market, particularly for heroin; Afghan nationals are also implicated. While there has been a rise in criminal activity by foreign nationals in states such as Goa, there is likely to be widespread resistance by an assertive and territorial Indian criminal underground.

    Leadership and governance

    India has a long history of the lines between organized criminal activity and politics being blurred. The high cost of running for election in India means that politicians often accept money and cede influence to criminal groups. However, criminal actors are increasingly not only financing elections, but also running for election themselves. The relationship between the Indian people, the government and law enforcement is increasingly fractured and India’s central government is facing questions about its Hindu nationalist agenda. Furthermore, long-standing border disputes with Pakistan and China have created a fertile breeding ground for insurgents who engage in organized criminal activity.

    Corruption is widespread, especially at lower levels of government and the judiciary, where bribe payments are common, especially among the police. Attempts to improve accountability and transparency are visible in India, such as the creation of an anti-corruption watchdog agency, but criticisms have been levelled at the institution around lack of effective personnel and regulations, and an unwillingness to investigate all claims. Furthermore, despite a strong legal framework pertaining to access to information, the process is tainted by political interference.

    India has long focused on international cooperation to offset its limited capability to control terrorism and cross-border crime, cooperating with UN agencies as well as playing a leading role in regional groups on economic and anti-terror cooperation. India has also signed agreements with Myanmar to increase cooperation around human and drug trafficking, and extradition processes are generally effective. However, domestically federal anti-organized crime legislation is limited and piecemeal, compelling some states to implement their own legislation to bridge the gap. The lack of federal legislation means that Indian policing is reactionary rather than preventative, which leads to heavy caseloads for criminal investigators, and a slow and backlogged judiciary.

    Criminal justice and security

    The Indian judiciary is under-resourced, which has led to an enormous backlog of cases pending. As such, prosecutions related to organized criminal activity are very limited. Similarly, Indian prisons are running at well over capacity and are constrained by lack of funding and staffing. This has led to substandard living conditions, violent clashes between inmates and guards, and corrupt practices facilitating the smuggling of contraband into prisons. India has among the lowest rates of police officers per capita of the world’s major economies, and a lack of personnel afflicts many of its law enforcement agencies. Extrajudicial killings or encounter killings by the police have been a considerable issue in the country. However, the country has provided strong support to regional intelligence cooperation among South Asian countries against transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.

    India has long, conflicted borders, notably the highly volatile border with Pakistan, where there has been an increase of violence in recent years, as well as a long-standing border dispute with China. There are notable lacks in policy around irregular migration where the agency responsible is unable to properly check all ports and has to outsource this function to state police. The prevalence of cross-border terrorism and drug trafficking also demonstrates the lack of resources given to preventative customs units and collusion between some Border Security Force officials and transnational crime syndicates.

    Economic and financial environment

    India has considerable risk of money laundering (ML) and terror financing, in part, because money laundering only becomes an offence in association with a predicate crime. India’s legislation is ineffective and has led to the country’s ML watchdog convicting only 1% of cases, and the tax department convicting only 2%. Despite that, the country is taking steps to improve its legislative framework. The government is also attempting to strengthen financial surveillance and compliance in its bid to prevent capital flight.

    India’s economic regulatory environment, on the other hand, has improved over recent years, but these improvements will have to compete with domestic protectionist impulses, which will not welcome foreign competitors at a time of rising unemployment. The intermittent reforms introduced by the government have not brought about tangible improvements to obstacles to doing business. Problem areas include tax-related administrative burdens, issues with property registrations and the low quality of the land administration system.

    Civil society and social protection

    India boasts an active civil society, with over 3 million civil society organizations working in the country in variety of roles, including aiding marginalized groups, holding government officials and agencies accountable for their actions and advocating for human rights. However, as part of general efforts to strengthen the authority of the state, the government has been clamping down on such organizations, especially those with foreign funding, by restricting funding and official registration.

    Despite the Supreme Court ordering the implementation of witness protection schemes designed by the Home Ministry and devolved to each state, this has yet to be effectively actualized. Therefore, India is lacking adequate legislation around witness and victim protection, which has led to serious obstructions of justice, especially when the victims or witnesses are from socio-economically marginalized communities. India has no overarching prevention strategy against organized crime, other than the sections of its Code of Criminal Procedure that attempt to prevent crime more broadly. Insofar as prevention initiatives do exist, they are fragmented and change from state to state, and networks of NGOs have stepped in to provide training to community leaders in prevention of human-trafficking crimes. Additionally, there are awareness campaigns and community-policing initiatives in Bengali, which have proven effective in substantially reducing the number of human-trafficking crimes.

    Cases of attacks on journalists by police, Maoist fighters and criminal groups are significant in India. In 2018, six Indian journalists were killed because their work. In 2019, in the months leading up to the general elections, attacks by supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party against journalists grew, with journalists in rural areas writing in local languages facing more danger.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.