Indian PM says wealth divide adding to instability

NEW DELHI, August 26, 2010 (AFP) – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that the country’s widening divide between rich and poor was a factor that encouraged crime and caused difficulties for police. Singh told a conference of police chiefs in New Delhi that national security was being threatened by an array of challenges, including tension in Kashmir, a worsening Maoist insurgency and criminal activity.

“Growing economic disparities, and regional, linguistic and ethnic differences” were among the problems faced by police, Singh said.

“The growing presence of non-state actors, fundamentalist groups and left-wing extremists has further complicated matters,” he added.

India’s economy has been expanding between about seven and nine percent a year since 2003, with luxury shopping malls and new housing developments springing up in urban areas.

However, malnutrition among under-fives stands at 43.5 percent — worse than sub-Saharan Africa — and only nine percentage points less than when India’s “economic miracle” began in 1991.

Singh also said that the Maoist rebels, who draw much of their support from poor farmers, had to be tackled by promoting economic development in in