Does India Need an Internal Security Strategy?

08 Jul, 2016    ·   5075

Dr N Manoharan & Asmita Michael identify five essential components of such a strategy


The recent deadly terror attack in Dhaka attests to the deteriorating security environment in India’s neighbourhood. The instability in Pakistan has a telling effect on Indian security, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. The arrest of the Islamic State (IS)-linked terror module in Hyderabad is a cause for concern. The Left-wing extremists have been trying to expand from their central Indian stronghold. Given the complex and varied nature of threats, India requires a comprehensive internal security strategy involving five components: political, military, social, economic and diplomatic.
The political component includes a will to take threats head on, a multi-layered grievance redressal system, constitutional safeguards and good governance, which in turn demands reforms in administration, the electoral system and criminal justice system. The institutions of governance and state structures should be strong enough to deal with internal conflicts in a coordinated way. Winning back and sustaining the confidence of alienated communities through political means is crucial for the long-run.
Inequity and deprivation breed resentment and alienation whereas a thriving economy, which gives hope and opportunity to all, is more likely to defeat extremist movements than any other strategy. There is an urgent need to adopt an inclusive development model that allows people to contribute to and benefit from this economic growth. Furthermore the role of the private sector should not be ignored. The economic part of the strategy also includes reaching out to neighbouring countries with development aid to address certain threats at their sources.
The social element should take into consideration the support of the population in countering internal security threats. Without the eyes, ears and intuition of the general public, it is difficult to identify terrorists who blend seamlessly into the environment in which they live and operate. People can contribute as informers, witnesses, and rescuers. A strong security consciousness needs to be created. The awareness could also include rules to be followed in case of a terror attack. Training of people in civil defence is important in post-strike scenarios. It is also important to engage and take the help of civil society organisations like self-help groups, non-governmental organisations, think tanks and the media in addressing internal security threats.
Within the military component, three broad measures are suggested: prevention, deterrence and rehabilitation. A comprehensive database of terror groups must be drawn up, detailing their ideology, organisational set-up, leadership, goals, modus operandi, training systems, support network, sponsors, weapon systems, and funding sources. It is necessary to employ covert operations, but they should be restricted to eliminating terrorist leadership and bases abroad and within India. Vigilance along land, coastal and maritime borders needs to be substantially enhanced, including through the use of hi-tech surveillance devices. Additionally border management could be more efficiently coordinated among various central and state agencies that operate along the country’s borders. Intelligence gathering in India, especially the preventive aspects of intelligence, needs substantial improvement. The beat constable system has to be given priority to facilitate grassroots intelligence. In this regard, informers’ networks need to be expanded.
Developing specialised counter-terrorism forces, strengthening the local police and a strong legal frameework are some of the deterrence measures that are required. The mantra is, right force for the right situation. While the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the nodal counter-insurgency force, requires restructuring and value additions, the National Security Guard (NSG), India’s primary strike force for counter-terrorist operations, must be provided with the necessary wherewithal to respond swiftly to terrorist attacks. Significant improvement is called for in the training of state police forces, who are the first responders. Each police station should aim at being self-sufficient and needs to be given the required resources in terms of anti-riot gear, better weapons, and mobile forensic units, and be connected to a networked criminal database management system. Long-pending police reforms require an aggressive push. At the same time, it is important to have a comprehensive legal framework against terrorism that conforms to the rule of law and human rights standards.

The main aim of rehabilitation is to induce change in the attitude of militants, thereby moderating their radical views. Prison conditions should be conducive enough to prevent the counter-productiveness of the whole corrective system.

The diplomatic aspect of the strategy is the optimal use of political energy to safeguard India’s security. The effort should be to create a web of cooperative partnerships at both bilateral and multilateral levels. Such diplomatic cooperation could be in joint military exercises, joint military operations, sharing of information and credible intelligence, mutual legal assistance, extradition, provision of requisite arms, technology, and aid. This requires the strengthening of India’s foreign policy mechanism on both qualitative and quantitative terms. Indian diplomacy can immensely benefit through outside expertise available in think-tanks, universities, media and the private sector to conduct high-quality, policy-relevant research and training.

It should be noted out that all the five components of a comprehensive internal security strategy are not mutually exclusive but are interlinked. At times, the required measures may conflict with each other. But unless these components are wielded in exact proportions as the situation demands, it would difficult to address threats. Going too far in one direction could be counter-productive. Striking the right balance is key to a comprehensive strategy.