Safety in India
Given its immense size and diversity, the general level of safety in India varies. Expats are most likely to come across issues related to petty crime, road safety and sanitation.
There are ongoing issues related to sectarian violence and terrorism, but foreigners are often not directly affected – although there have been occasions when areas known to be frequented by Westerners have been targeted.
Crime in India
Foreigners will rarely be exposed to violent crime in India, but petty crime is rampant. Expats tend to stick out in a crowd and are often easy targets for pickpocketing, overcharging and small scams.
There have also been reports of foreigners being robbed or assaulted while riding in taxis or rickshaws. It’s best to take prepaid taxis and avoid taxis that are already carrying passengers.
Unfortunately, women should be particularly cautious about travelling alone (especially at night) and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention.
Begging is common on the streets of Indian towns and cities. Expats wanting to make a difference should contribute to a reputable charity. If refusing to help is difficult, food is a better donation than money. But giving to one person can result in being mobbed by others hoping to get something too.
Terrorism in India
The threat of terrorism in India remains a concern, especially in major cities like Delhi and Mumbai – terrorists have especially targeted areas that are popular with foreigners before. Security has, however, been stepped up in major cities, especially at government buildings, hotels, sports venues, transport hubs and places of worship.
The Indian government often issues alert warnings about possible terrorist attacks and increased security around national holidays such as Republic Day and Independence Day is common. Expats should keep up to date with the news, and be cautious around these events, especially in areas that are possible targets.
Certain parts of India are often scarred with sectarian violence that has little to do with foreigners. The northern state of Jammu and Kashmir is the most notable example. The presence of Maoist extremists in some rural parts of central, eastern and southern states has also been an ongoing problem. By following government travel warnings, expats will easily avoid any problems.
Protests in India
Protests related to political and socio-economic issues are common in India and often affect service delivery and transport, particularly road and rail transport. Violence at such gatherings is not uncommon. Indian security forces are quite used to dealing with these situations and are swift to react – curfews and travel restrictions may be implemented in affected areas.
Transport safety in India
Road safety is a major concern in India. Reckless taxi and motorcycle drivers account for many accidents, while bus and train accidents are also fairly common. Pickpockets also target passengers on public transport, so expats should keep a close eye on their belongings.
Food safety in India
Poor hygiene standards and disease are also concerns for expats in India. To avoid digestive issues, be cautious about having food from roadside vendors and tap water, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.