Countering Land-based Threats
The way forward to strengthen the homeland security scenario in India would require active management of the policy framework, regulations, process and fiscal environment to create an integrated and self-reliant homeland security apparatus by the governme
The way forward to strengthen the homeland security scenario in India would require active management of the policy framework, regulations, process and fiscal environment to create an integrated and self-reliant homeland security apparatus by the government.
POST 9/11, HOMELAND SECURITY GOT fast tracked in the US and it is generally believed that the mainland has not suffered any terrorist incident since then. But then, what is a terrorist act? The August 2012 shooting at the Wisconsin Gurudwara killing six people was publicly described by the US Attorney General as an act of terrorism motivated by hate. There have been plenty other similar hate crimes in the US which were not acknowledged as terrorist acts despite the basis of any terrorist act being ‘hate’. Therefore, homeland security should not be simplistically related to only terrorist acts. Most countries have come to realise that homeland security has much wider canvas than protection from acts of violence. Within India, the fabric of homeland security apparently comprises a host of dots that are yet to be fully connected; integration of the security sector, intelligence, surveillance, national net-centricity, et al. The mere fact that the erstwhile Home Minister had recommended establishment of a Ministry of Homeland Security while proposing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is indication enough that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its current shape and huge responsibilities cannot holistically cope with the requirements of homeland security.
Akin to there being no universal definition of ‘terrorism’, there is no universal definition of ‘homeland security’ either. There are many definitions and understandings of the latter. However, the following definition by Kettl, coined in 2004, appears appropriate: “Homeland security is, at its core, about coordination: coordination between functions and between governments, developing new tools, and effectively weaving together the nation’s experts and resources to connect the dots; a matter of doing some new things, many old things much better, and some old things differently, all in an environment that can punish any mistakes severely.” When Kettl says between governments, we may apply the same also to Centre-state relations in India.
Any state must ensure that the citizenry can enjoy the resources and fruits of development in a safe and secure environment. Homeland security is inexorably a vital part of national security, the importance of which has heightened manifold in this age of asymmetric wars. In terms of national security, a nation needs to possess economic security, energy security, environmental security, etc. Security threats involve not only conventional foes such as other nation states but also non-state actors such as terrorists, narcotic cartels, multinational corporations (MNCs) and non-government organisations (NGOs); some even include natural disasters and events causing severe environmental damage in this category. A November 2012 report in the US highlights the vulnerability of the power grid to terrorists, bringing out that power system disruptions even from natural disasters or malfunctions have had immense economic impacts. Some international studies even include agricultural land security, productivity, ecological security,
food security, demographic security (read refugees) and cyber security intrinsic to homeland security.
Homeland security involves proactive policies and implementation in terms of analysis, reorganisation, diplomacy, intelligence gathering, building and synergising the security sector, or whatever it takes to proactively defend the homeland. It goes far beyond civil defence. The buzzword is preemptive mitigation of threat by actually preventing an attack/incident in the first place. It is important to distinguish homeland security from related terms like national security, anti-terrorism, disaster preparedness, hazard management, emergency services, crime prevention, strategic coordination, threat mitigation, and risk assessment. Homeland security consists of all these things and more. It is a broad concept relevant to safety and security, to be sure, but at its heart, the concept must include the idea of balancing security and citizens’ liberty. With terrorism as a major threat to homeland security, it requires a blend of both foreign and domestic intelligence. Administrative lines of separation and geographical boundaries of agencies if not eliminated through integration, result in poor intelligence that is capitalised by terrorists. While advance warning of a terrorist act may not always be possible, 100 per cent effort must go towards rapid transit of intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination, with the analytic process being a synthesis or fusion decision support processes based on all source intelligence. Rapid advances in technology must be continuously optimised and integrated into the homeland security infrastructure to incrementally upgrade the security levels. Besides facilitating national net-centricity, technology can effectively cover threats like intrusion prevention and access denial while solutions include surveillance, radio frequency identification, etc. India’s homeland security market is expected to be worth $16 billion (`80,000 crore) by 2018, growing annually at 35 per cent against seven per cent globally. India’s share in global expenditure in the sector is also expected to rise to six per cent by 2020 from 3.6 per cent now, of which, government constitutes about 30 per cent of the spending within the country.
India has a land border of 15,072 kilometres (3,431 kilometres with Pakistan), mostly through rugged and/or porous terrain. The coastline is 3,863 kilometres running through nine states and four union territories. Some 29 terrorist organisations are operating within India and both China and Pakistan are actively fanning these fires. In addition are the mafias, crime syndicates and drug cartels in large metros, particularly Mumbai. The Minister of State for Home Affairs informed the Rajya Sabha on August 29, 2011, “A total number of 84 districts in India witnessed violent activities of some nature”, while 119 more districts reported Naxalite presence in the form of “overground activity of the front organisations of the CPI (Maoist) and other left-wing extremist (LWE) outfits”. Thus, “the total number of such districts (LWE affected) in 2011 was 203.”
The threats to homeland security are of a nature that requires a national effort. Take for example, intelligence, which requires a billion eyes on the ground concept. While the public-private partnership as a whole needs integration, the lead for this need is to be taken by the government, which does not appear to be happening. The problem is compounded by the fact that in a democracy like India there is free movement. Then there is the problem of the Centre-state relationship, which in certain cases amounts to resistance for the sake of resistance just because both are ruled by different political parties. The case in point is that of NCTC which should have been in place a decade back. Resistance from states is also partially due to the fact that despite coping with terrorism for over two decades, we have not been able to classify ‘terrorism’ as a subject to be dealt with by the Centre. States continue to treat the issue as ‘law and order’. Resultantly, a strong NCTC is considered by them as an infringement on the power and sphere at the state level.
Though homeland security is increasingly perceived as critical to the overall security of the country and steps are being taken to upgrade the homeland security infrastructure with increased budgetary allocations, introduction of unique identification (UID) and establishment of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), etc, much more is required to be done. Some of the areas that need focus are as follows: Reconsider the need for a separate Ministry of Internal Security. Terrorism should be classified as a subject to be dealt with by the Centre. Speedy establishment of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and a strong NCTC. Concurrent establishment of state level STCTs duly linked to the NCTC. Total integration of all intelligence agencies, which has not been fully established yet. UID cover to all citizens. Introduction of effective legislation deal with terrorists and speedy justice; changes to legislation made in recent times are largely cosmetic. Achieving synergy in the security sector; armed forces, Special Forces, Paramilitary Forces, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), police forces, Coast Guards, intelligence services, private security services, Customs and Immigration Services, Government—Ministries of Defence, Home/Internal Affairs, Law and Justice, Human Resource and the like and most importantly the citizenry as a whole. Initiate steps to deal with externally sourced threats to homeland security through covert and proactive employment of Special Forces, a potential that has not been optimised to this end yet. Holistic police reforms are desperately needed instead of mere increase in numbers. CAPF and police units earmarked for counterinsurgency/counter-terrorist tasks must be reorganised on the lines of Assam Rifles/Rashtriya Rifles. Leverage technology and public-private partnership to institutionalise the ‘safe and secure city’ concept against both natural and man-made disasters and violence. Critical infrastructure security optimising latest technologies. Education and training of the masses. Address causes of dissent through improved governance. The way forward to strengthen the homeland security scenario in India would require active management of the policy framework, regulations, process and fiscal environment to create an integrated and self-reliant homeland security apparatus by the government. India and the US are already looking at ways to improve their intelligence-sharing mechanism and forging cooperation in new areas for strengthening homeland security. Similarly, it would be prudent to establish close cooperation with other countries like Russia and Israel also facing terrorist threats.
Need for Holistic Review
The increased importance of homeland security requires little emphasis with the environment in our neighbourhood likely to deteriorate further with the US/North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) pullout from Afghanistan post-2014, increased Chinese aggressiveness and existing evidence of Chinese and Pakistani links with terrorist/ insurgent outfits operating in India, directly or by proxy. If the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) returns to power in Bangladesh, we may witness revival of terrorism in that country. We need periodic holistic review of homeland security, a roll on roadmap and its speedy implementation.
CRPF personnel with recovered arms