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Decadal Review: Cyber-Crimes increased 30-fold between 2010 & 2019

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In this story of the decadal review, we look at cyber-crimes and suicides due to drug abuse, unemployment, bankruptcy. With the proliferation of smartphones & the internet in these 10 years, the number of reported cyber-crimes increased 30-fold.

The year 2020 marked the end of a decade. In this series about tracking various indicators, we looked at the trend in crimes against the vulnerable during the 2010-2019 period. It is observed that the overall rates of crime against women, rapes, and atrocities against SCs have increased. 

In this story, we look at the trend in cyber-crimes, suicides due to drug abuse and alcohol addiction, suicides due to unemployment, and that due to bankruptcy/indebtedness. While the Crime in India report published by National Crime Records Bureau records data on cyber-crimes, NCRB’s Accidental Deaths and Suicides India report has data pertaining to suicides. 

With rise the use of Smart Phones & Internet, cyber-crimes increased 30-fold

The past decade witnessed a dramatic rise in the use of smartphones & the internet in India. The launch of affordable smartphones, increased social media usage, dependence on online food delivery and cab services, online money transactions, online streaming services have all contributed to the dramatic rise in the use of the internet. This decade (2010-2019) also brought about many changes in people’s lives due to the increased use of technology. Coupled with this, the tariff of mobile data decreased substantially in these ten years as the user base and demand has surged. 

As per TRAI data, there were a total of 52.5 crore mobile connections in India by the end of 2009. This increased to 115.2 crores by October 2020, which is more than twice the number in early 2010. The increase in broadband subscribers (those who use the internet with > 512 Kbps download) is more dramatic. From 78.3 lakh such subscribers by the end of 2009, the number increased to 73.5 crores by the end of October 2020, an increase of more than 94 times. 

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Such proliferation of the internet also meant an increase in cyber fraud. The NCRB started collating data pertaining to cyber-crime only from 2002. The provisions relating to cyber-crimes are in the Information Technology Act of 2000 and also under the Indian Penal Code. For instance, cases of forgery, misappropriation, etc. come under the IPC.

The total number of reported cyber-crime cases crossed 1000 in the year 2010 when 1,322 cases were reported. This number has increased 30-fold to reach 44,546 cases in 2019, in a span of 10 years. 

Rate of Cyber-crime is being reported since 2016

The rate of cyber-crime is being reported by the NCRB from 2016 as it was negligible prior to this. In 2016, one person per lakh population has reported a cyber-crime. The crime rate went up to 1.7 in 2017, 2.1 in 2018, and 3.3 in 2019. However, the actual number of cyber-crimes could be much more since many of these crimes do not get reported.

Extortion, fraud, prank, sexual exploitation, revenge, etc. among leading motives of cyber-crimes

Since cyber-crimes is a new head in the NCRB report, there have been multiple changes made to this section in the past few years. The information has been added and deleted over the years under the cause-wise list. Between 2010-2013, the NCRB classified the motive behind the crime in eight categories which increased to 20 in 2014. The latest 2019 report has 18 columns for recording the motive. This makes the analysis of the motive of cyber-crime complicated. It is observed that the cases of fraud have risen significantly. In fact, in 2019, cases of fraud alone constituted more than 60% of the cyber-crimes. Similarly, there has been an increase in crimes for extortion, prank, sexual exploitation, revenge, and cases of disrepute over the years. The increase in reporting of cyber-crimes could also be because of the improved awareness among the general public. 

Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra are among the states where the majority of the cases of cyber-crime got reported in these ten years. 

More than 13 lakh suicides in these 10 years

A total of nearly 13.4 lakh persons were reported to have died of suicide in the 2010s. The year 2019 recorded the greatest number of suicides in the last decade with more than 1.39 lakh persons giving up their lives for varied reasons. Studies indicate that persons who are into substance use are at a higher risk of suicide. 

Suicides due to drug abuse/alcohol addiction constitute nearly 4% of total suicides

The ADSI report combines the suicides due to drug abuse and alcohol addiction under one head. Suicides due to alcohol addiction and drug abuse constituted nearly 3.7% of the total suicides in the last decade. It is seen that the number of suicides reported under this category has more than doubled from 3,343 cases in 2010 to 7,860 cases in 2019. Except for the dip in 2014 and 2015, there has been a gradual increase in the number of suicides in India due to alcohol addiction and drug abuse.

More than 97% of persons who committed suicide due to alcohol addiction/drug usage were men

Furthermore, more than 97% of the total persons who committed suicide due to alcohol and drug abuse were men. Analysis of data from mega-cities also reveals that suicides due to the said causes were more in rural areas than in mega-cities. This is contradictory to the common notion that drug abuse is more in urban areas. However, this could possibly be attributed to alcohol addiction than drug abuse. Around 80% of such suicides were reported outside the 53 mega-cities in the last few years, as highlighted in an earlier story by Factly. Maharashtra has recorded the highest number of suicides due to drug abuse/alcohol addiction in the last decade while Karnataka has witnessed an increase in the last four years. 

Suicides due to unemployment and poverty/indebtedness together account for 4.5% of suicides in the decade

Suicides due to unemployment and poverty/indebtedness together accounted for 4.5% of all the suicides between 2010 & 2019. More than 60 thousand persons committed suicide because of these two reasons, according to ADSI. 

2019 recorded highest number of suicides due to unemployment in the last 10 years

Suicides due to unemployment was the highest in 2019 in these ten years with majority of the victims in the 18 to 30 years age bracket. As is evident from the graph below, the suicides due to unemployment have been on an increasing trend in the last four years. The least number of such suicides was recorded in 2012 which was the only year when the number of suicides due to unemployment went below 2000 in these 10 years.  

About 88% of the victims were men

About 88% of those who died of suicide due to unemployment were men with women constituting the remaining 12%. Studies have highlighted that being unemployed was associated with two to threefold increase in the relative risk of suicide as compared to those employed. 

Suicides due to indebtedness has more than doubled 

Personal debt and financial distress can result in anxiety and depression which increases the risk of suicide. Suicides due to bankruptcy/indebtedness has more than doubled in the ten years, from 2,709 in 2010 to 5,908 in 2019. The average number of suicides for the said reason was about 2600 in the first half of the decade and above 4800 in the latter half. About 91% of those who committed suicide in the last decade due to indebtedness or bankruptcy were men. Those aged between 30 to 45 years of age constituted more than 40% of the total in 2019. 

Featured Image: Cyber-Crimes increase

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