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Homeland security challenges before India

Last updated on: September 9, 2010 14:55 IST

'We confuse conventional war with counter-insurgency'



Internal security is related to an attack on a strand of Indian culture, Minister of State for Home Ajay Maken told the Conference on Homeland Security in New Delhi on September 6, 2010

India is a unique country and its uniqueness lies in its diversity. Its diversity rose from its tolerance which is the result of its culture. No wonder in India we have 1659 languages spoken as mother tongue in various regions. All of them co-exist and co-exist peacefully.

No wonder India is a country which perhaps has been the breeding ground for the largest religions of the world. Be it Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Sikhism, no other country can boast of such genesis. India has been a land where people have mastered fusion, a land, a place where perhaps the first Jews arrived, soon after Jerusalem fell, where perhaps Christians came back as early as 3rd century and had settlements on the shores of India as early as 4th century, where perhaps the Parsis came in 7th century after being driven away from Iran and even now, in the last century we have the Baha'is who were driven from their motherland and who came and sought refuge in India.

But why am I mentioning this in a Conference on Homeland Security, is just perhaps for the reason, when we talk about Homeland Security, or internal security; I somehow feel that it is related to an attack on a strand of Indian culture, which we call 'tolerance' or as being tolerant. 

And this is our first challenge. We have more than 16000 km of land border with seven countries. We have 7500 km of our coastal land and we have infiltration in both forms, physical as well as ideological. Physical form also has to be checked and ideological form also has to be checked, and this is the biggest and first challenge. To prevent our great motherland from being infiltrated by such elements, who through vicious campaign want to radicalise and indoctrinate a section of vulnerable population of the country and this is also one of the biggest challenges which our homeland security, our internal security has to face. 

Very often we confuse the rules of conventional warfare with the rules of counter-insurgency warfare. The rules of conventional warfare are:

  • The first rule is that the strong enemy wins;
  • The second rule is, if both the armies are equal then the more resolute army wins;
  • The third rule is, if both are equally resolute, then the army with the capacity to hold and secure the area wins; and
  • The fourth rule is, in all these three above cases if it is the same, then the army with the element of surprise wins.
  • If we look at the counter-insurgency warfare it is totally the opposite. It starts from the element of surprise and ends at the place where the first law of conventional warfare starts, ie, the strength of the army. Here the strength does not matter. Here the element of surprise matters.

Image: Muslim school girls celebrate Diwali in Allahabad
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

'More technologically advanced, more prone to infiltration'

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David Galula, the famous counter-insurgency specialist, has also said that against conventional warfare, in counter insurgency warfare it is the population which should be the target, not the geographical area. So we should somehow or the other, whether by way of information operation, or whether by the way of better intelligence gathering, whether by the way of assimilation and dissemination of information, we should somehow or other target the population and see to it that the population in our right side and not only the geographic area. 

And it is here where the second challenge lies. We have to strengthen our intelligence systems. The ministry of home affairs, by way of setting up of the National Intelligence Grid, Multi Agency Centres of the intelligence agencies which are also linked to the state level centres situated at different state headquarters, is trying to link up different intelligence agencies into one. We are setting up a system of collecting the information at one place and then disseminating intelligence as actionable intelligence to various agencies, various people who would make use of such actionable intelligence. We are also setting up CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking and Networking Systems) and effecting unique ID cards having biometrics in it. But when we are setting up all these things, again from this second challenge flows another challenge as to how to secure our networking system -- the answer for this also has to be sought. 

The more we are technologically advanced, the more is the threat of infiltration in our networking systems. We become more prone to various threats on cyber security and other threats in the networking systems. 

The third challenge which we are facing is the training and retraining of our paramilitary forces. I remember last year, when we had a conference of chief ministers hosted by the ministry of home affairs in Vigyan Bhawan. At this conference the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said one thing and the chief minister of Chhattisgarh said the opposite. The chief minister of J&K said that after long-drawn counter-insurgency operations or fighting against the insurgents, our police forces now are used to only fighting the insurgents and it is difficult for them now to do the normal policing job, where as the chief minister of Chattisgarh, the state which has recently been facing the problem of Maoism, said that unfortunately our police forces are used to only normal policing and this counter-insurgency against Maoists who were well versed with jungle warfare is something which is very difficult for us to comprehend. 

So the biggest challenge for us is how to train and retrain our paramilitary forces, our state level police forces and this is again a challenge for which solutions perhaps might come from conferences like these.

Image: Paramilitary soldiers patrol at Jhitka near Lalgarh in the West Midnapore district, some 170 km west of Kolkata
Photographs: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters
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'Many a time money is not spent, or not properly spent'

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You all know that modernisation of police forces in our country has been taken up in a big way. We have in our ministry of home affairs a total budgetary allocation to the tune of Rs 42,376 crores, this is more than 8.25 million dollars, and if we look at the increase, the jump, it is phenomenal. In 2005-06 it was Rs 20,985 crores. In a span of five years this has more than doubled to Rs 42,376 crores. The amount of money this year is 3.82 per cent of the total budget and the best part is more than 70 pc of the total budget of the ministry of home affairs is to be spent on the police. We have demand for grant No. 53 which deals only with police and more than 70 pc of this total budget has to be spent on the police.

One of the problems which we used to face was that most of the money for the modernisation of police forces has to be spent by the state governments, the provincial governments that we have in our country. Money is given to them but many a time we find out that the money is either not been fully or properly spent. So we have come up with two new things which are going to not only ensure transparency but which is also going to put pressure on the state government to fully spend the allocated money.

The first thing is that we have made mandatory for the states to give utilisation certificates -- UCs as we call -- by November of any fiscal year in order to get the rest of the money allocated to that state in that particular year. If a state fails to give the utilisation certificate by way of having spent the money, the money allocated to that state would be transferred to another state which has utilised and given the utilisation certificate. By bringing in this provision the problem of unspent funds or diversion of funds has been done away with and the amount allocated for police modernisation is actually being used for modernisation and upgradation of forces.

Secondly, in order to ensure transparency we have started with a concurrent auditing system and we are going to have quarterly concurrent audit of the spending done by the state because we want to ensure that the amount of money which we are giving to the states are being spent only for this purpose and not being diverted for other purposes. 

So with these two steps, I think the industry has a big job at hand. First of all we are ensuring that the full amount of money is spent, and secondly we are also ensuring that money is not diverted elsewhere, rather it is spent only for modernisation of police forces, the purpose for which the money is given to the state in the first place.

Image: Policemen on amphibious vehicles attend a parade in Mumbai November 26, 2009
Photographs: Arko Datta, Reuters
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'Purchase from favourable nations only'


In the end, I would like to just add one small thing and this is my personal opinion. When I say so I am not reflecting the opinion of the government in any way. The amount of money which the government has put in for modernisation of police forces, strengthening of our border forces, strengthening of our international border and many related things is huge. 

Let me assure you that as far as internal security goes -- its strengthening and augmentation -- there is going to be no dearth of money or resources. But we would like to ensure a few things at least from companies which are not in India, at least from the companies which are based abroad. 

First of all, we are also simultaneously looking at strategic partnerships with countries. And again this is my personal view, as I have said earlier, if in case the technology is equivalent, if in case the product is equal, then definitely we should look to buy equipment or technology from a country which is strategically favorable to our country; which is strategically a friend of India, and strategically that country does not supply in any way, those item to such countries which are in some way or the other seeing to it that India is not stable or in India some kind of internal security problems come up.

Secondly, we would also like to see to it that sooner or later transfer of technology also takes place. These are the two important things we will be looking for once we go in for purchase from companies which are based outside India.

Image: Defence Minister A K Antony at the induction ceremony of IL-78 aircraft armed with Israeli AWACS, at Palam air force station, New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi, Reuters