Jan 12 2015
Excerpts from the presentations at theRoundtable on National Security, Key Challenges Ahead, organised by The Tribune National Security Forum in collaboration with the Indian Council of World Affairs
In the obtaining global security environment, our country’s foremost concern is to protect and safeguard our territorial integrity and ensure the safety and security of all our citizens. Sustained development and progress are possible only if there is peace and normalcy within the realm.
We are a large country, with land boundaries of over 15,000 km, maritime frontiers of over 7,500 km, open skies all around and multiple threats from various quarters. I shall reflect briefly on certain aspects of internal security.
The maintenance of national security faces serious challenges on many fronts, among which are:
Pakistan’s continuing proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.
Activities of the Pakistan-based jihadi terrorist groups which have established their networks in various parts of India, particularly in the hinterland.
Activities of the Naxal groups which have established “liberated” zones in large areas, where their writ runs.
Organised crime and mafia groups, drug cartels, and fake currency networks whose unlawful activities are causing enormous damage.
Considering the serious security challenges faced by the country, it is urgently necessary that we must have a reliable security management apparatus which safeguards all important arenas of activity which would, inter alia, include food security, water security, economic security, energy security, science and technology security, environmental security and so on.
It is relevant to note that in the management of matters relating to internal and external security, a rather clear line has developed in the past decades. Thus, the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the defence of India and the Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for internal security. And then there are a number of central agencies like the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Joint Intelligence Centre, and several other institutions which provide important information and support to the Home and Defence Ministries and other authorities involved in security management at the central level.
One approach to security
In the years past, the Centre-State relations in the arena of security management have been largely based on periodic consultations. Such arrangements are inadequate in the obtaining security environment in which terrorists strike at will, with total surprise and lightning speed. If our response has to be prompt and effective, there is no scope whatsoever for any time being lost in consultations. On the contrary, it is of vital importance that we lose no more time in building the capacity to prevent, pre-empt and, whenever a situation arises, to effectively respond without any loss of time.
And this leads me to the next question — do we have a national policy and a supporting security management apparatus which can deliver an immediate response to a sudden terrorist strike anywhere in the country? The answer is that, so far, we do not have a cohesive National Security Policy which is fully agreed to between the Centre and the States. We also do not have a countrywide logistical framework, manned by thorough professionals, which has the capacity of speedily responding to any arising emergency.