General Studies Essay Paper: India’s Internal Security Challenges

India's Internal Security

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Syllabus: General Studies Essay Paper: Security Issues


India’s Internal Security Challenges – Evolution, Nature and State’s Responses


Background and Evolution

In the Arthashastra, Kautilya wrote that a state could be at risk from four types of threats internal, external, externally-aided internal, and internally-aided external. He advised that of these four types, internal threats should be taken care of immediately, for internal troubles, like the fear of the lurking snake, are far more serious than external threats. The most dangerous enemy is the enemy within.

The long struggle with the British and the arduous efforts to consolidate British provinces and Princely states into a federal India generated considerable anxiety about sustainability of Indian state, particularly when the country was marked by numerous ethnic groups, varied culture, innumerable languages, multitude of religion, castes and tribes, etc. It was a challenging task for the constitution makers to build the effective institutions and constitutional framework in this regard.

The Republic of India took the challenge of internal security with all earnestness. The Constitution of India envisaged a federal framework of polity with clear demarcation of powers entrusted to the Union and the Units in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. It is noteworthy in this context that the Constitution allotted public order and police to the States and put criminal law, criminal procedure, preventive detention, etc. in the concurrent jurisdiction in view of their relevance to the Centre’s responsibility for national security and the need to maintain uniformity of criminal law and procedure across the country.

For extraordinary situation which demand extraordinary interventions, Article 352 was provided which dealt with the ‘Emergency Situation’– A potential bearer on Internal Security as felt by our forefathers. Similar provisions were provided in other articles. Article 352, constitutional break-down of state machinery under Article 356 and financial emergency under Article 360 provided such possibilities. Article 355 empowers the Union Government to deploy central paramilitary forces in a state where public order is in jeopardy and outside the control of the police as it shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance. Article 257 (1) provides that in case of conflict, the valid exercise of Union executive power must take priority over the valid exercise of state executive power.

Then, came The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution (1976), which inserted in the Union list “Deployment of any armed forces of the Union or any other force subject to the control of the Union or any contingent or unit thereof in any State in aid of the civil power; powers, jurisdiction, privileges and liabilities of the members of such forces while on such deployment”. The State list was also altered to make additions to ‘Public Order’ and ‘Police’. The Constitution also carried a strong centralist thrust and enabled. Thus, the internal security challenges were visioned at the very outset and there were provisions to deal with it, but sadly, because of the last three decades witnessing multiple violence in different part of country, posing internal security threats, it was perceived to make several laws which could provide measures to deal with them. They were: Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980, National Security Act, 1980, amended 1984 and 1987. Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982, Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983, to just name a few.

Thus, it may be seen that India’s readiness to deal with the internal security challenges witnessed organic growth, and was continuous in the sense that, in the last 6 decades after independence, several measures were taken by Government, Policy makers and Strategic thinkers in this direction.


Nature and components

Basically, the Government of India faces major internal security threat emanating from three area: Naxalism, Urban Terrorism and Cyber Attacks. This list is not exhaustive but inclusive. These three are the major components of the security threat, which time and again, are posing serious threat on India, its territory and its people. But sadly, our preparations to deal with them are not up to mark. They are adhoc and they lack in pro activeness.

Naxalism: The former Prime Minister of India had prioritized Naxalism as the biggest threat to Internal Security. He said that it is imperative to control Left-wing extremism for the country’s growth.

Making a beginning in Naxalbari in West Bengal and Telengana in Andhra Pradesh in the 1970s, the movement has since spread to many states: Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. The root cause for the rise in Left extremism is the inability of the states to address the many genuine grievances of the people. The gap between the unrealistic expectations, fuelled by populist rhetoric, and their actual fulfilment has increased and not decreased over the years.

Effective steps to reduce ethnic and social inequalities, disparities in educational and employment opportunities, and for creating an effective machinery for the redressal of public grievance, are absolutely essential to improve the environment in which extremist violence flourishes. Steps to reduce economic deprivation and improve the delivery of essential services can erode the base of public support on which the extremist movements survive.

Also, the need for a well co-ordinated security apparatus can hardly be over emphasised. It should include the police, the paramilitary forces, the army and the intelligence agencies. A composite force on the lines of the National Security Guards (NSG) should be organised in all the states, even in those states where the internal security situation is not so serious.

Urban Terrorism: The term ‘terrorism’ is exceedingly difficult to explain. A Chinese philosopher describes it as, “to kill one and frighten a thousand”. In simple words, “terrorism is the indiscriminate use of force to achieve a political aim”.

India has been grappling with the risk of urban terrorism since many decades, but, in the recent past it has witnessed a series of strikes in many parts of the country. The last decade has witnessed lethal strikes on the Indian Parliament on 13 December 2001, synchronized series of attacks in the economic hub of India, Mumbai on 26 November 2008, and the bomb blast in the technology, educational and real estate hub of India, Pune on 13 February 2010. the deadliest attack in India in 2016 took place in July, when the Communist Party of India – Maoist detonated explosives and opened fire on Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Bihar.  A recent  14 th feb 2019 terror attack in phulwama where  vehicle filled with explosives  into a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and killed 49 soldiers.

Thus, citing the varied impacts of urban terrorism, it can be well placed as second most prominent threat to India’s Internal Security.

Cyber Attack: With the dawn of 21st Century, India has witnessed yet an another kind of threat to its security. The modern era of Internet has made it even more vulnerable in its impacts. ONGC oil rigs using SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) industrial systems were found to be infected by worm, massive infections in a mega power project in Gujarat using SCADA systems controlling the generation and transmission network in western India, knocking off signal and control systems on Delhi Metro’s crucial links, throwing the capital’s most used public transport system into chaos, were some of the severe revelations in this regard. A daring cyber attacks was carried in August 2018 on Cosmos Bank’s Pune branch which saw nearly 94 Crores rupees being siphoned off. In July 2018 fraudsters hacked into Canara bank ATM servers and wiped off almost 20 lakh rupees from different bank accounts. SIM Swap Fraud India is quickly becoming the second-largest victim of cyberattacks after the United States.

In addition to this, India faces other challenges too which are more of a local nature. These may be summed up under the following sub headings:

1. Security Scenario in Jammu and Kashmir- Internal security has persistently been a challenging issue in Jammu and Kashmir. However, security concerns assumed alarming proportions in the late 1980s, when militancy in Jammu and Kashmir became a major source of tension for the Indian state. Kashmir problem has been blamed upon a wide range of factors, from the ISI operations to the failure of the Indian government to respect the wishes of Kashmiris—to institute democracy and create a framework for effective self-rule and autonomy for the people of Kashmir.

July 2016 The killing of Burhan Wani, a popular militant and top commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group by the security forces sparked violent protests.

2. Security Scenario in the North-East- In the North-East- Different states face different security challenges. Assam has witnessed increased ULFA violence; Manipur continues to be affected by ethnic conflicts and insurgent activities of a large number of militant groups, inter-factional clashes in Nagaland continue to be a source of tension and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh continue to suffer from violence.

3. Communal clashes- The communal fight between Hindus and Muslims is another severe blow to our security. The recent clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Muzaffarnagar district, Uttar Pradesh, in August–September 2013 killing 62, injuring 93 and leaving 50000 people displaced expose our preparedness in dealing with such grave situations.


State’s response & Recent governmental interventions

As far as Naxalism is concerned, The Central Government has taken various measures to control Left Wing Extremism which includes augmenting the strength of Central Armed Police Forces; establishment of National Security Guard (NSG) hubs at Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai; strengthening and re-organizing of Multi-Agency Centre to enable it to function on 24×7 basis; and sanctioning of new Specialized India Reserve Battalions (SIRB). The Central Government also proposes release of funds under the Special Infrastructure Scheme to the States of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha to raise Special Task Force to combat LWE. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 has been amended to strengthen the punitive measures.

In the field of Urban Terrorism, India’s response is very pathetic. India’s experiments with POTA, TADA and UAPA have failed to deliver the desired results. The recent steps to bring NCTC met with no success, with large number of states opposing the establishment of the same. Indian Military continue to suffer from obsolete equipments, outdated technologies, shortage of military personnel, poor investment from abroad. There is a lack of effective training to para-military forces like CRPF, too.

In the area of Cyber Security, our country is early to realize its concerns. National Cyber Security Policy 2013, is a proposed law by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of India, which is due to be passed by parliament, aimed at protecting the public and private infrastructure from cyber attacks. The policy also intends to safeguard “information, such as personal information (of web users), financial and banking information and sovereign data”. The urgent need is to strengthen Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the Regulatory Framework for ensuring a SECURE CYBERSPACE ECOSYSTEM.


Way forward: There is a immediate need to bring the ‘Police Reforms’. What is it who fights with the Naxals? It’s Police. But sadly, or policing system is the same as was introduced by the British. Notwithstanding, the recent Supreme Court order of 2006 to bring reforms in this direction, nothing substantial took place. On security fronts, All cities must establish a network of mohalla committees and housing societies to monitor all suspicious movement in their own locality. Each city must have a dedicated police officer to man this 24×7. Also, the State-Of-Art technology should be introduced in the Indian Defence and Para-military set up. The Intelligence agencies like IB, R&AW, NIA need to reformed. More importantly, the government should change its policy that it has with respect to naxalites and terrorists. Also, it should take pro-active approach in dealing with them. The politics should be segregated from the development. Including all the stakeholders in any decision with respect to new initiatives will bring more insights into the problems and the remedies. If these things are strictly adhered to, India will gain considerably on security related aspects.

Ethno-religious-ideological fault lines, which exist in India, have to be managed with a sense of fairness and balance for all sections of Indian society. Rough-riding the way of life of minorities leads to more alienation and consequently, more security problems for the nation. Indian leaders, of all political hues, must never lose sight of this vital cardinal and not only profess but practice inclusiveness and secularism. The Idea of India and its promise must never be sacrificed at the altar of sectarianism and for reaping electoral benefits. India’s internal security conflicts, of all shades, demands that.

By any benchmark, India today stands at the cusp of becoming a reckonable global power. Let us not miss the India moment. Let us, embellished by enlightened leadership, synergy amongst all institutions and the people, and propelled by determined implementation, re-energize the India Story as never before.


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