Originally Published 2004-09-27 09:03:57 Published on Sep 27, 2004
Kautilya said that the worst enemy is the enemy within. In Arthshastra, he stated, ¿Arrows may not kill a soldier but skillful intrigue can kill even those in the womb.¿
On Managing Internal Security in Border States
Kautilya said that the worst enemy is the enemy within. In Arthshastra, he stated, "Arrows may not kill a soldier but skillful intrigue can kill even those in the womb."&nbsp; <br /> <br /> These days the whole of South Asia- India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Pakistan-is going through internal unrest and upheavals due to insurgency movements, ethnic conflicts, religious fundamentalism, or just cussed political polarization. Internal security of South Asian states is and will remain under great stress in the foreseeable future. Such unrests have a history of crossing national boundaries and leading to inter-state tensions. Latest development is on the Indo Nepal border.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Geo-politically, South Asia represents an integral security zone with India's unique centrality. No two South Asian nations can interact with each other directly without touching or crossing Indian land, sea or air space. India has special ties with each of her neighbours-of ethnicity, language, culture, common historical experience, or of shared access to and dependence upon vital natural resources - of a character and to a degree of intensity that is not shared by any two others. Although we do not have serious territorial security problem with neighbors other than Pakistan, there are issues like the Indian secessionist groups using their territory as sanctuaries, trans border immigration, gunrunning and narcotics, which affect our security. The neighborly unrests, therefore, have special significance and implications for India.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> It may also be noted that the rise in assertion of their national identity has already created propensities amongst some of our neighbors to view India as a problem and mobilize other counter weights. Historically, in the event of erosion of India's political strength and stability, these nations have sought to distance themselves from India and often attempted to make more demands and secure greater concessions and accommodation from India. <br /> <br /> Within India, our secular, open and pluralistic society continues to be vulnerable to several internal contradictions even after 57 years of independence. Given our poverty, illiteracy, communal and casteist vote bank politics, these contradictions are unlikely to disappear soon. Some specific issues that we are faced with are:</font> </p> <ul> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">Problems of national assimilation and integration particularly of Border States in the North East.&nbsp; <br /> </font> </div> </li> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">Porous borders with Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka which enable illegal trans border movements and smuggling of weapons and drugs. These days AK rifles, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, land mines, RDX, even shoulder fired surface to air missiles are easily available in our neighborhood.&nbsp; <br /> </font> </div> </li> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">Weak governance including law and order machinery and large-scale corruption. Nexus between crime, insurgency and politics.</font> </div> </li> </ul> <p align="justify" class="greytext1"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">The internal security prognosis, therefore, should be a cause for serious concern for those in the national security apparatus. <br /> <br /> By now it is obvious to everyone that our internal security policies, and State and Central Police and Para Military Forces (CPOs and PMF), our primary instruments for tackling law and order and internal security, have not been able to cope up with these growing challenges. Main reasons for lack of success by the latter are excessive political interference, lack of professionalism and modernization. Over the years, they have acquired an ethos that is not conducive to operational effectiveness. In most troubled states, we have had to deploy large numbers of CPOs, PMF and the Army (including Rashtrya Rifles) to create a semblance of law and order, and conditions wherein elections can be held for elected representatives to govern the state. Once committed, with few exceptions, they have remained there for decades. <br /> <br /> Three points need to be made here.</font> </p> <ol> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">First. Military pressure alone cannot resolve matters unless there is good governance and a strong thrust on socio-political and socio-economic issues. Political leadership and civil administration have to govern the states and the country with greater commitment and efficiency.&nbsp; <br /> </font> </div> </li> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">Second. Protracted employment of Army leads to "Law of Diminishing Returns". The reasons are (a) over dependence on the Army reflects lack of trust and faith in the capability of the state and central armed police and para military forces (b) after a while, locals treat the Army as another police force (c) such duties have adverse impact on Army's operational effectiveness (d) during a war/war like situation; Army needs public support. It cannot afford to alienate local population as currently happening in Manipur and to some extent in Assam.&nbsp; <br /> </font> </div> </li> <li> <div align="justify"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">Third. Reduction in Army deployment will be possible only if we can revamp the para military, central and state police forces. We need to urgently modernize these forces, improve their leadership, training and man management.</font> </div> </li> </ol> <p align="justify" class="greytext1"> <font size="2" class="greytext1">How do we improve policing and intelligence in border areas?&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Sometime ago it was proposed that for revamping state armed police, central police forces and para military forces, trained Army personnel with 8-10 years service be laterally inducted into these forces. They will not only bring in some Army ethos and culture but also save state money on training. The laterally inducted men will benefit by serving longer (more saving due to late receipt of pension) and within their own state. The Army will also benefit. It will be able to maintain a younger age profile. It will be a win win situation for all. <br /> <br /> We had also proposed that all young officers joining these forces be either trained in Army training establishments like the Indian Military Academy and Officers Training Academy, or their own commissioning establishments have instructors from the Army. Some Army officers in the ranks equivalent of Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels could also be selected for lateral induction into these forces. Most political leaders in the Government had favored this proposal. But it has not been implemented due to vested interests. It is time that we rose above our parochial interests. <br /> <br /> My next suggestion pertains to Assam Rifles, which was raised primarily for deployment in the North East and comprised personnel from these areas. Some years ago, its composition was changed to an all India composition force. The force thus lost its excellent rapport with local people, so essential for intelligence gathering and maintaining law and order. I feel about 65-70 percent of this force should be recruited from the North East. With this composition, the battalions should be rotated within North East on 3-4 years tenure basis and not allowed to develop 'material' interests in the local set up. <br /> <br /> We already have border-holding forces. But these will always remain inadequate. They have to be supplemented with 'home and hearth' units or village guards; of the kind that we had in Arunachal Pradesh earlier. (Special Security Bureau (SSB) units did a good job in 1960s and 70s. By sheer neglect and poor leadership, we diluted their role. Now through ad hocism, we have changed their role/composition and converted them into something different). These 'home and hearth' units, with as many local ex servicemen as possible, should be raised/deployed wherever border-holding forces are thin on the ground. They must maintain good communication and liaison with the latter. Army personnel should train these personnel on the lines of Border Scouts.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Amongst North East states, which are more vulnerable to internal and external security pressures, we also need more effective coordination of intelligence and operations through a regional set up in Guwahati or Shillong. This can be established as part of North East Council. <br /> <br /> In the current strategic scenario, one cannot rule out a situation where a neighboring nation may seek India's assistance in kind or forces. It has often happened in the past. It will be prudent for the Government and Armed Forces to prepare contingency plans so that such help, if decided, can be provided with least delay.&nbsp; <br /> Finally, we must have a comprehensive strategy to deal with insurgency and terrorism in Border States. That should include broad based domains of national and states' policies including accelerated economic development and elements of security and media policies. Most importantly, it should address dedicated and effective governance through good administration, prompt and fair judiciary and law and order machinery that inspire confidence. <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em>
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