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How Safe is India?

How Safe is India?

by J.D Viharini

JD Viharini
In general, India is pretty safe, especially if you don't toss common sense to the winds. With the exception of a few hotspots, such as Chattisgarh and Kashmir, India is no more hazardous than most other countries in the world. In fact, you are less likely to be the target of violent crime here than in many places in the West. And in spite of all the fear-mongering about it, the odds of being caught in a terrorist attack are very small. On the other hand, there are a few safety issues you need to be aware of.

The biggest safety issue in India is actually the traffic. Indians are, for the most part, extraordinarily bad drivers, possibly the worst in the world (though most think they are pretty good). Whether you are walking, driving, riding a bicycle, etc., you need to be fully alert whenever you are out on the streets. In fact, alertness is the most important thing wherever you are when it comes to safety, both in terms of traffic and crime.

Talking on your cell phone while you are walking or driving is an invitation to trouble. There are many accidents that are cell-phone related, most of which could have been easily avoided. Obviously, getting drunk or stoned also makes you much more vulnerable and increases the risk of problems when you are out and about. In Goa, for instance, where there is a major drug scene, a large percentage of crimes and many accidents are drug-related.

Try to be aware of what's going on around you whenever you are out, not just in terms of the traffic, but also of who is taking an interest in you. Pickpockets, luggage thieves, rapists, etc. are always on the lookout for the unwary. Don't be paranoid about it; just be aware. Alertness combined with common sense is enough to prevent many of the problems you might encounter.

Cultural awareness is also an extremely important factor when it comes to safety, and it's even more important for women than men. It's important to dress and act modestly in order to avoid problems. What is perfectly acceptable in the West is often offensive here, and can send out unintended invitations. Even if you are a woman who is actively on the lookout for romance, it's much, much better to be subtle about it. And much safer.


J.D. Viharini is the author of Enjoying India: The Essential Handbook, a book that shows you how to experience the best of India by offering up tips and cultural essentials that no expat should be without - many of which are scarcely available elsewhere. She maintains a blog about India on her website, www.enjoyingindia.com, where you can also purchase her book. A single woman who has lived and traveled extensively in India, Ms. Viharini has learned that traveling smart and functioning in harmony with the local culture is the key to enjoying life in India. Over the years, she has traveled around India first class, sardine class and everything in between.



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