The current state of matter in the Indian subcontinent is regarded as the culmination of the vast and diverse phases of history of the region along with the geographical location of India. India has been an exemplary model of ‘unity in diversity’, yet there are constant issues that threaten the nation’s sovereignty and secularity and have emerged as the prime opponents of our democracy.
Insurgency, militancy, extremism, terrorism, communal disharmony and various similar antisocial elements have become a bane to our society. As the age-old saying goes- The most dangerous enemy is the enemy within- it holds true for all the cases in India. Internal security is of paramount importance for the welfare and growth of the nation that we have inherited from our forefathers who have sacrificed their well being for our independence.
While security of the nation has two factors- internal and external, conventional external threats have almost disappeared and what remains is external influence on internal threats.
From the issues pertaining to insurgency in the northeast, the Naxals and the left wing extremists in the peninsula, the militancy and terrorists in the northern states, coastal threats to communal riots, violence, criminal activities and money laundering and counterfeiting; such activities are being carried out by individuals and organisations externally sponsored by international governments as well as independent factions and syndicates.
The geographical limitation is not only in the South Asian region but is a worldwide phenomenon. Hence, it becomes vital to understand the threats possessed by these externally aided internal threats.
Internal Threats that Exist in India
Internal security in India faces five major challenges in the form of the following-
- Separatist movement in northern India (J&K, Punjab).
- Insurgency and separatist movements in the north-eastern states.
- Left-wing extremism and Maoism.
- Economic threats (smuggling, trafficking, money laundering, etc.)
Separatist sentiments have been forever plaguing the state of J&K. The four wars with Pakistan have further aggravated the condition in the once serene and beautiful valley. Jammu and Kashmir had formally become a part of the Union of India in 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh, the last royal ruler of J&K signed the instrument of accession with India.
Yet, due to the bad blood that brews between Pakistan and India, border disputes are still fresh between these countries and directly or indirectly, the latter has a hand in inciting the secessionist movement in J&K. Similarly, insurgency in northeast has been the most concerning movement in India after Kashmir.
The Naga tribes were the pioneering rebels who emerged revolting against the poor governance and negligence. This revolution spilled into the other north-eastern states and had turned into a large scale anti-India movement. China and Myanmar have had crucial role in providing support to this movement.
Coming back to the mainland, a similar grievance of ignorance and lack of development incited the left wing extremist movement, especially in the state of Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. These states have a high share in the total tribal population of India.
The movement became an armed and violent struggle between the Maoists also known as Naxalites and the government of India. While initially this was a purely internal conflict in terms of origin and operation, over the period of time, it became an internationally funded rebellion supported by nations and syndicates that share anti-India ideology.
When it comes to terrorism, India has vehemently accused Pakistan for exporting terrorists to India. Events of terrorism have been etched in the modern history of India be it hijacking passenger aircraft, bombing the parliament, attacks on military establishments, massacres in religious establishment or explosions in public utilities like transport, marketplaces, etc. Indian citizens have always been troubled by such incidents and as long as the patrons of terrorism in the form of state and non-state organisations.
While surely all these activities are a reason for havoc, they require lot of funding and planning for execution. While legally, funding these operations can expose the real benefactors, there for underground activities and black money is utilised to arrange for the majority of the funds. Human and material trafficking, kidnapping, contractual homicide, extortion, counterfeiting of currency and money laundering are just few of the many ways these outfits earn money to fund their activities.
These problems have been prevalent ever since our country gained independence and are the source of headache for the citizens and the ministries of defence and home affairs. Not only are these unlawful factions causing widespread loss of life and property and damaging the economy of India, but their influence is also painting India in a negative image on a global scenario.
The military and the paramilitary forces are trying their level best to check on such elements even though a large majority of these forces are still operating with old weapons and shoddy equipment. But to completely eradicate these issues, we need to focus on the roots of the problems rather than keep cutting the branches.
State and Non-State Actors in Pakistan
While there are a whole bunch of nations that are sources of concern for India’s internal security, Pakistan has remained as the top priority and is always under the radar of India for its activities. Both the nations have fought four wars beginning from the middle of the 20th century, which coincidentally was also the period during which the two independent nations were formed; and continuing till the literal end of the century in 1999. Proxy wars, ceasefire violations and other forms of military disputes are still prevalent.
The government of Pakistan, which has been a puppet of its military, has faced continuous allegations and accusations from India for sponsoring terrorism through its intelligence agency- ISI. Additionally, independent terror outfits are acting under the shadows operating using lone wolves, and illegal military training camps to generate terrorists out of the youth in the region.
The Pakistan Army is said to be providing the terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahedeen and Al Qaeda with funds, ordnance and equipment to carry out black op strikes in Indian civilian and military establishments. They are also accused of supporting separatists like the J&K Liberation Front (JKLF) who in turn are brainwashing the youth of the valley to become anti-India and recruiting them for terrorism.
The terror outfits, which comprise the majority of the non-state actors, are also generating funds through illegal markets. Unfortunately for India, the nation is geographically stuck in the golden crescent and golden triangle of illicit drug trade. The terror outfit utilise these networks to start their own business to buy weapons and equipment for their personnel.
They also put to use the cross-border weapon smuggling network for transport of their weaponry deeper into the Indian Territory. The leaders and chiefs of these terror outfits have been roaming freely in Pakistan which is a blatant proof that Pakistan is unashamed of the fact that it sponsors terrorism.
But Kashmir is not the only region that is facing separatism and insurgency issues. Punjab has been equally troubled by the pro-Khalistan movement as well as the rampant cross-border drug and weapon smuggling problems. India had already thwarted a Sikh separatist demonstration in Amritsar via Operation Blue Star during the Indira Gandhi government, but that did not stop these secessionists from carrying out terrorist attacks as well as assassinating Indira Gandhi. Khalistan Liberation Force remains active till date.
State and Non-State Actors in China
China is the only other nation with which India has gone to war and the only nation in whose hands, suffered humiliating defeat. China comes second to Pakistan when it comes to international threats to India, but is in actuality a bigger threat than Pakistan. The China-Pak relationship is a very intimate one where former is the provider and the latter is the beneficiary.
Adding to the woes, Pakistan has been giving parts of the Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to China and also has allowed China to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in PoK. In return, the largest Asian Economy has granted large amounts of loans to its friend in the west. Even still, Pakistan’s economy has been failing which makes people wonder where the aids and funds are going since the only industry blooming in the country is that of terrorism.
But being on the eastern front of India, China is directly involved in the insurgency and other illegitimate activities occurring in the northeast. Speaking in terms of internal security only, China is supporting the left-wing extremism and separatism.
The rogue Naga leaders had approached Beijing for aid and China, with all its effort for regional containment of India, made the best use of this opportunity. Other rebel groups that followed include ULFA, MNF, PLA and others, forging an alliance between China and Indian Militant Organisation.
State and Non-State Actors in other Bordering Nations
While Pakistan and China have the biggest influence of matters regarding internal security, the involvement of other nations or non-state actors sharing boundaries with India cannot be side-lined. While comparatively, the relations between India and these countries is much warmer, yet there are some smaller factors which if ignored can initiate a bigger issue for India.
First in line is Nepal, the largest Hindu population nation by percentage. India shares a porous border with Nepal and allows free exchange of men, material and money. While this is a sign of good relationship with the landlocked country, it also means unhindered path for trafficking and terrorism.
More importantly, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), ever since has come to power, has raised anti-India agendas. This can be a possible boost to left-wing extremism in India if Nepal decides to support the naxals in their fight against the government.
Next in line is Bangladesh, the nation that India helped to be formed. While the border with Bangladesh is much more restricted than Nepal or Bhutan, it is still quite free in some ways. But what is more concerning is the refugee tension that Bangladesh has created for India.
Many of the Bangladeshi origin people have populated eastern and northeast states, especially Assam and have resulted in the controversial National Register of Citizens in the state. It has also been used by ISI to link it to the Mumbai underworld. Not to mention the Rohingyas which though originally from Myanmar, have gained access to India via Bangladesh and have been accused of bringing in ISIS elements with them.
This brings Myanmar in the picture. This nation has not caused much trouble to India except creating the Rohingya crisis- a state inflicted issue and another problem of secessionist ultras having their camps in their territory- a non-state issue.
Finally, the limelight falls on Sri Lanka, our only southern neighbour. While the current situation and the government is in favour of India, the preceding government had already laid seeds of problems for India after falling into a debt trap set by China and leasing Hambantota port to them.
This has given China a maritime strategic advantage over India as it has India surrounded by all sides now. Other issues that India faces from Sri Lanka include drug smuggling, counterfeiting currency and human trafficking. India has had a good relation with Sri Lanka except for a small blunder between 1987-1990 when Rajiv Gandhi sent our forces to deal with the Lankan Civil war. Both the nations should try to build better ties for a brighter future.
State and Non-State Factors in Other Nations
India should keep in mind that its internal security is not only threatened by its immediate neighbours, but any nation which harbours enemies of India or resentment against our country is a possible threat. Generally speaking, this threat majorly comes from the western and the middle-eastern countries.
Firstly, world’s biggest economy and superpower- United States of America can be viewed as a state that unintentionally harbours state and non-state elements of concern for internal security of our nation. Firstly, Trump administration has not taken a firm stance on Pakistan and is day by day going softer on the nation.
Historically, the USA had shunned India and readily helped Pakistan in the Indo-Pak wars. Additionally, it had monitored India’s nuclear capabilities and even had initiated the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in retaliation of India’s first successful nuclear test. With its current stance on Taliban administration in Afghanistan and provision of aids to Pakistan, the USA seems to be an imminent danger to our nation.
The USA’s immediate neighbour- Canada too comes under the Indian radar. Although the country has maintained an overall friendly relationship with India, it still acts as a base for non-state actors in the form of Sikh pro-Khalistan separatist groups. Being a culturally diverse and tolerant nation which strives to be truly democratic in nature, Canada should help India the world’s largest democracy, to eradicate these terrorists from their country too.
Our third aim is Africa, especially the western region. India has been a very helpful and supporting state for African countries, especially Nigeria. Nigerian students and professionals are allowed to come to India for studying and job opportunities. But the underworld Nigerian drug market has also reached India along with the frequent internet scams and ransoms.
This extends to the middle-east which plays an equally important non-state part in promoting drugs and violence in the Indian sub-continent. Furthermore, many middle-eastern countries vehemently provide billions of dollars of aid to Pakistan which the latter has been using to fund its terrorist activities in India.
The wise scholar and brilliant strategist of India- Chanakya had segregated national threats into four groups- external threats, internal threats, externally aided internal threats and internally aided external threats. In these, he explicitly stated that the most dangerous of the threats arise from the snakes that lurk inside rather than external aggression.
Therefore maintaining internal security is vital for the well-being and growth of the nation. Unfortunately, India is facing multiple challenges when it comes to ensure top notch internal security for its nation. Yet, despite of all the ups and downs that the country has faced, it has managed to stand together- united; and rise to become the world’s 7th largest economy within 72 years of independence.
Successfully tackling internal security problems involves fighting it on both national and international levels. Hence it is of vitality that India keeps working on its relations with other countries to help us get a diplomatic high ground to be able to achieve something for our internal security, in addition to the other activities they take care of.