Securing India’s porous borders
The task of securing India’s borders is mammoth, as the country shares vast border areas with China (over 4,000 km); Pakistan (nearly 3,000 km); Bangladesh (over 3,300 km); Nepal (about 1,700 km); Burma (nearly 1,500 km); Bhutan (605 km); and Afghanistan (106 km). With infiltration into India continuing from some of the neighbours, adding to internal strife, the need to seal the borders is urgent, even while inter-country dialogues take place.
Recently, the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde conceded that “infiltration from Pakistan into India is continuing and our security forces are ‘very alert’ in dealing with it”. While commending the security forces, the political leadership has to take some hard decisions – invest in securing the borders. The example of the United States on how it took a number of stringent initiatives to secure its borders, post-9/11 has to be studied. It is not that the US has developed a foolproof system, but it is one which is very effective. Unlike the US, India is more at risk if the borders are not secured, considering the volatile situation in the neighbourhood.
The meeting of the Home Secretaries of India and Bangladesh in Dhaka recently wherein the two sides discussed issues such as border management, security, land boundary demarcation etc. have to be a continuous process and monitored regularly. The coordinated border management plan, we hope, will help in checking infiltration.
Taking the issue further, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch in his fortnightly column, points out that China and Pakistan are busy synergising the insurgent outfits in India to create a compact revolutionary zone (CRZ), which sounds ominous. The Indian political leadership should take note of this and check infiltration before it takes on dangerous proportions. As such India is reportedly home for about 40 million illegal weapons, with annual trade of $4 million. They are certainly not coming through airports. The land and sea borders have to be sealed tight.
In this issue, we have two interesting features on tactical communication system (TCS) which the Indian Army badly needs. The TCS programme is estimated to cost about $1.8 billion and when fielded with requisite mobile terminals network, will fulfil a long- standing critical operational void of the Indian Army. Both Lt General Katoch and Lt General (Retd) Naresh Chand have outlined the advantages of the TCS, albeit delayed.
At the 23rd edition of Euronaval 2012 in Paris, Saudi Arabia was under the arclights. The Euronaval Show Report by R. Chandrakanth speaks about Western OEMs looking at emerging markets to shore up their dwindling revenues.
On the acquisition front, India has picked the US-built Boeing CH-47F Chinook for the IAF’s heavy-lift helicopter requirement. Chinook pipped Russia’s Mi-26T2 on price. The US may have lost out on the MMRCA deal, but they are winning in spurts as can be seen from Boeing getting orders for AH-64D Apache, P-8I Poseidon for the Indian Navy and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
With sophisticated and costly procurements in defence and aviation growing considerably, the simulation industry is keeping pace and is huge. From this issue, we are introducing a section on simulation which will give updates, trends and insights into an industry which relies on precision, cost-saving, safety and training.