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Introduction | Security challenges and their management in border areas

  • Governments of numerous nations make huge investment and provide good support for the border security. Still, border and maritime security continues to present challenges to governments around the world.
  • The proper management of borders presents many challenges and includes coordination and concerted action by administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure the frontiers and sub serve its best interests.
  • With a continent of sub-continental proportions, India occupies a major strategic position in Southern Asia and governs the northern Indian Ocean with a coastline that is 7,683 km long, and an Exclusive Economic Zone that is over two million square km in size.
  • India’s land borders exceed 15,000 km which it shares with seven countries including a small segment with Afghanistan (106 km) in northern Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • A border is a line that connects or divides two or more regions of similar characteristics.
  • It is a strategic piece of land that has been well protected. India occupies a strategic position in south Asia and also dominates the Indian Ocean with its vast coastline.
  • It shares the land boundary with seven countries. India shares its land borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.


Challenges Of Border Security 

  • There is a difference in the ground situation in every Indian border. In the Line of Control and the Siachen Glacier, it is almost a war-like situation, a migration problem in the Indo-Bangla Border, relatively peaceful in the Chinese border except for some incursions and increased smuggling activities in the Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar borders. Few borders that have thick vegetation covers help insurgent groups to hide. India shares its coastal boundary with many countries and specially Sri Lanka, with which it shares the International Maritime Boundary Line. A few issues that started with the Katchatheevu islands, the capture and shooting of Indian fishermen and the seizure of boats at the International Boundary Line stir a few problems among the southern states.
  • A few border areas are physically unguarded because of their difficult terrains and due to toughness in approachability. Each border area has its own unique culture and religion that are completely different from the main country. The remoteness of the border areas helps in illegal migration, while smuggling activities are the few other challenges that pose as problems to national security.
  • The land borders and their problems have always received special attention from the government, but the term ‘border security’ has gone through a wider change in its perspective as the coastline and the airspace have also become vulnerable. Our airspace and coastline also require the government’s attention as the land border

Safeguarding The Borders Of India | Security challenges and their management in border areas

  • Effective border management requires proper planning and measures that safeguard India’s frontiers and safeguard it from the risks involved in the movement of goods and people across the borders.
  • Smart border management with technological solutions is a step towards improving border security.
  • Central Armed Police Forces including Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), etc and Indian Army are responsible for securing India’s international borders.
  • The maritime borders of India that are recognised as per United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are secured by the Indian Navy.
  • All states in India except Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi and Haryana have an international border or a coastline.
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India’s Land Boundaries With Her Immediate Neighbours

  • Bangladesh: 4,339 km (4,351 km as per MoD2).
    Bhutan: 605 km (700 km as per MoD).
    China: 3,439 km (4,056 km as per MoD).
    Myanmar: 1,425 km (1,643 km as per MoD).
    Nepal: 1,690 km (1,751 km as per MoD).
    Pakistan: 3,325 km (3,244 km as per MoD).
  • The Indo-Pakistan Border
    • India shares one of the vast land boundaries with Pakistan. The boundary that divides India and Pakistan is the Radcliff Line, which can be split into three regions:
    • The Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) across the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest war point.
    • The Line of Control (LoC) originally known as the Ceasefire Line, renamed as LoC, following the Simla Agreement, which extends from NJ 9842 to Sangam in J&K and
    • The International Boundary Line that runs from the LoC to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
    • All these border areas are effectively guarded by the armed forces, where the Indian troops are deployed at Saltoro Ridge to block the entry of Pakistan forces in Siachen Glacier. The AGPL is still not properly demarcated. The battle of moral superiority is consistently fought between the armed forces of India and Pakistan. India guards the LoC with its army along with Border Security Force (BSF).
    • The LoC felt intensely tensed due to a proxy war by Pakistan in the last decade of the 20th century, and thus it assisted its militants in crossing the LoC borders. Consequentially, a fence was constructed across the border that went against the Simla Agreement, which mentions that there should not be any defensive structure near the LoC, and then the fence was constructed by both the sides very far away from the LoC. The army and the BSF both work together with good co-ordination with the local police and intelligence agencies. Each division in the border is guarded by one ministry each, in which we follow the principle of one border – one ministry, where the AGPL, guarded by the army is under the defence ministry and the LoC guarded by the BSF is under the Home Ministry’s control. The Pakistan government has still refused to accept the International Border and uses it for infiltration and cross-border terrorism, and no Confidence Building Measure has still been taken.
    • Indo Myanmar Border
      • India shares a 1643 km long border with Myanmar along the states of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. It is manned jointly by the Indian Army and the Assam Rifles.
  • Indo-Bhutan Border
    • The border is about 700 km long and is shared along the borders of states of Assam, West Bengal, and Sikkim. Jointly Manned by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the Border Security force (BSF) and the Royal Bhutanese army this border has remained relatively quiet and peaceful after the flushing out of ULFA terrorists through operation All- Clear by the joint forces.
    • Indo-Bangladesh Border
      • India shares a 4096- km land border with Bangladesh. It is India’s longest border with any country and it is among the states of Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. Even after a successful land boundary agreement issues continues to persist on this border.
  • Indo-China Border
    • The main challenge along the eastern border of India and China is the demarcation of the border itself. The Doklam standoff of 2017 whereby India and Bhutan consider Doklam as an integral part of Bhutan was disputed by China and a skirmish broke out when India opposed road construction by the People s Liberation Army (PLA) in the region.
    • China has also opposed the passage of pilgrims for annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via the Nathu-La pass in Sikkim in the year 2017 which was open for trade and civilian use since 2015.
    • The Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Border
      • Nepal borders India with almost five states, Uttarakand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim. As provided by the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries, the citizens will have equal rights in all matters with regard to free movement and residence and also provides an open border. This enhances the bilateral relationships between these countries.
      • The Indo-Bhutan Border, shared by the four states, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and West Bengal, is also an open boundary. The only concern in this border is the insurgent groups, and this has been dealt now with the Operation All Clear. Sashastra Seema Bal is the responsible guarding agency in both Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Borders. These two borders are highly porous and pave the way for insurgents and terrorists to easily hide. Better cooperation between these two countries is more than enough to resolve this problem.  ( Security challenges and their management in border areas)

Coastal Security And Island Territories

  • Sri Lanka and Maldives are maritime neighbours of India, therefore are not connected by land essentially. Both the Island nations are located in the Indian Ocean in close proximity of the Indian mainland as well as the Lakshadweep Islands.
  • Sri Lanka, the bigger nation is located much closer while Maldives is spread a bit below Sri Lanka. India has shared both good and stale relations with these nations depending on the government in power. The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are the patrollers of the coastal boundaries as well as maritime borders of India.
  • Their main aim is to catch illegal immigrants, smuggling and illicit trade and terrorism. At the same time, they also help lost fishermen as well as save their lives when in dangers posed by the sea.

Challenges To Managing Our Borders |Security challenges and their management in border areas

  • Porosity of borders: International borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh run through diverse terrain including deserts, marshes, plains and mountains. This porosity of borders facilitates various illegal activities such as smuggling, trafficking of humans, drugs and arms and infiltration.
  • Contested International borders: History of mistrust and constant border skirmishes with Pakistan along line of control (LOC) makes India highly susceptible to cross-border terrorism. Similarly, India’s border with Myanmar is threatened by several insurgent groups that have found sanctuaries in jungles along the border. Political boundary issues of “enclaves and adverse possessions” in Bangladesh have resulted in political sensitivity along the entire eastern border.
  • Inefficiency in Border management: Indian borders continue to be guarded by military and police forces that report to different ministries in the Centre and states, making the border management task arduous and leading to duplication of efforts by the security forces.
  • Lack of critical infrastructure: Critical infrastructure such as observation towers, bunkers, Border Flood Lights etc. are lacking in many border areas which also prevent deployment of hi-tech equipment.
  • Poor intelligence and resource efficiency: Security forces are ill-equipped to handle border management given poor intelligence capabilities and severe resource deficiency.

Role of technology in Border Management

  • Checking infiltration: It can be help to detect infiltration via land, underwater, air and tunnels by deploying close circuit television cameras, thermal imagers and night vision devices etc.
  • Upgrading existing system: Technology can be integrated with the existing systems to facilitate better detection and interception by the man behind the machine. o At present, border guarding is almost fully dependent on human surveillance. This makes border management a time-consuming and complex task.
  • Improved Intelligence inputs and Surveillance: through Remote sensing satellites, radar satellites and satellites with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors which are capable of providing day and night allterrain and all-weather inputs.
  • Facilitate Cross Border Trade: For example: Blockchain technology can help quickly and securely process transactions, it also makes much easier to identify and trace illegitimate trade.
  • Madhukar Gupta Committee on border protection had recommended the Union Government to strengthen border protection and address vulnerabilities in fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border. This led to implementation of CIBMS in 2015.   ( Security challenges and their management in border areas)

Techniques Of Effective Border Management

Steps to check Illegal Immigration

    • The central Government is keen to check illegal immigration as it is not only a humanitarian problem but also a security one. There is an urgent need to bring state and local governments which are on the border areas on board by consensus approach rather than an authoritarian stance.
    • The process of updating National Register of Citizens (NRC) should be expedited. Also there is a need to implement the Assam Accord of 1971.
    • Identify illegal immigrants by checking the validity of their voter-ID, Aadhar and land records and chuck out real illegal immigrants.
    • Open a dialogue with the neighbouring countries to solve the problem on a sustainable basis.
  • Modernization
    • There is an urgent need to modernize border patrolling and management. Use of drones for surveillance, need for upgradation of GIS mapping and satellite imagery and digitization of areas of the border must be looked into urgently.
    • Manpower recruitment and training have to be stepped up and full capacity deployment at the border areas has to be a top priority.
    • The home minister has recently emphasized setting up of border protection grid along the India Bangladesh border which would be a technological barrier and not a physical one along with state of the art surveillance systems like day night cameras, radars, sensors and intelligence agencies as fencing across all areas like rivers, nallahs etc.
    • There is an urgent need to set up a technological committee consisting of experts in order to expedite procurement of equipments and immediate implementation of pragmatic recommendations.
    • Economic co-operation
      • Border haats like the ones in the Bangladesh borders in Tripura and Meghalaya must be encouraged. The border trade has gained popularity among the local population to see their local produce. It has also generated employment to the local community, and similar haats must be opened across all borders.
  • Border Area Development Programme (BADP)
    • Working under the Home Ministry, the department of Border Management has launched a programme called the Border Area Development Programme via the state governments; this was started during the seventh Five-year Plan. It originally started to cover the western border regions, and was later extended to all the border regions. The aim was to satisfy the needs of the people living in the border areas and also to make sure that they have the entire essential infrastructure. It is a strategy that involves the state government also to work in the border areas by sharing its planned funds with border infrastructure and also to improve the secured environment.
    • Under this programme, all the funds that are allocated to the state areas are fully non-lapsable, and a special grant has been put into place to cement all the gaps in infrastructure, education, health and other essential aspects and the need to induce the feel of security among the people in border remote areas.
    • The Government of India generally provides the guidelines and schemes in the programme with the consultation of all the local-level institutions. Initiatives like the model village, mobile dispensary facilities, infrastructure, power and tourism and sports are developed through this programme. Integrating local population in border management
      • The involvement of the local people will make a positive impact on border management. It should be taken down to the base level, i.e. the village development council, for the coordination of local people in ensuring security prospects. Proper training and motivation to the local community would to be efficient in their cooperation, and the government could propose to have incentives for their involvement. They can report illegal activities and abnormal or subversive activities in border areas; they may also provide guides in hilly areas when required by the armed forces. The security forces must also ensure the help of the border people. Only then will the people also have a feeling of attachment with the agencies.  (Security challenges and their management in border areas)

The Kargil Review Committee Report And Its Observations For Border Management

  • The Kargil Review Committee (KRC) was set up by the Government of India on 29 July 1999, three days after the end of the Kargil War. The committee was set up “to examine the sequence of events and make recommendations for the future”.   ( Security challenges and their management in border areas)
  • The committee consisted of:
    • Subrahmanyam (chairperson), retired Indian Administrative Service officer and head of the National Security Council Advisory Board (NSCAB)
    • Lt Gen K. K. Hazari, former Vice Chief of the Army Staff
    • G. Verghese, member National Security Council Advisory Board
    • Satish Chandra, secretary of the National Security Council Secretariat and member-secretary of KRC
    • Brajesh Mishra, the national security advisor at the time, assisted in the establishment of the Kargil Review Committee.
  • The KRC suggested a “thorough review of the national security system in its entirety”, conducted by a credible body of experts. It also suggested that various task forces should also review specific parts of the system, including:
    • National Security Council
    • Intelligence
    • Counter-terrorist operations
    • Border Management
    • Defence Budget and Modernisation
    • National Security Management and Apex Decision Making
    • India’s Nuclear Policy
    • Media Relations and Information
    • Technology
    • Civil–Military Liaison
    • Declaratory Policy for LOC

Securing The Coasts And Island Territories | Security challenges and their management in border areas

  • Coastal Security Scheme: In order to strengthen coastal security measures in the country, a CSS was launched in 2005 across all nine coastal states and four coastal UTs. The main objective of the scheme was to strengthen infrastructure of the marine police force in order to improve patrolling and surveillance of the coastal areas, especially the shallow areas close to the coast. The CSS was to be implemented in two phases, with Phase I to be launched in 2005 for a period of five years, which was later delayed by one year and ended up being completed in 2011. Phase II was then implemented in 2011 for five years, which was again extended due to delays in implementation and is now likely to be completed by 31 March 2020.
  • International Ship and Port Facility Security Code: The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code is a comprehensive set of guidelines and regulations established for the security of ships and port facilities. Developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in response to the 9/11 attacks, the code is constituted in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), an international maritime treaty. All 148 signatories of the treaty, including India, are required to comply with the ISPS Code. The purpose of the set of regulations is to establish a standardised framework across international ports and ships, which then allows governments to efficiently evaluate risks and offset threats and vulnerabilities to shipping and port facilities through alterations to security levels and undertaking the security measures prescribed by the Code.
  • National Automatic Identification System: The DGLL established the national AIS network by setting up 74 shore stations on existing lighthouses along the Indian coast for facilitating aid to marine navigation and tracking of SOLAS vessels. The AIS network plans to track all SOLAScompatible vessels and also those carrying transponders as per the Directorate General of Shipping’s notices. This will provide an overall image of AIS-compliant vessels along the Indian coastline. Thus, apart from management, the AIS network will aid navigation and creation of maritime domain awareness along the coastline.
  • Biometric ID cards for coastal fishermen: The Centre’s sector scheme on the issuance of biometric ID cards to coastal fishermen at a total cost of 72 crore INR was launched by the Ministry of Fisheries on 11 December 2009. The Central government has provided a 100% grant to the state governments, UT administrations and other implementing agencies for the scheme. A consortium of three CPSUs, led by BEL along with state governments and UTs, have been entrusted with the work of the digitisation of data and card production and issuance.
  • Vessel tracking management systems: Approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the MoD and deployed by the Indian Navy, eight coastal radars were set up within the frameworks of the National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) programme to help counter potential infiltration from terrorists and pirates. The radar stations in Gujarat integrate with 33 other coastal radar stations across the nation to create a complex network of marine tracking that is controlled by the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurgaon.
  • Coastal Surveillance Network: The CSN has been set up by the ICG to improve the coastal security mechanism in the country. This network comprises a chain of static sensors having radars, AIS, day/night cameras and met sensors at 46 locations along the coastline and islands. All of this was established under Phase I of the CSN, whereas under Phase II, in order to plug the gaps in the electronic surveillance coverage along the coastline, the MoD had approved an 800 crore INR project in February 2017 to install 38 additional radar stations and eight mobile surveillance systems, apart from VTMS connectivity, at the Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Khambhat.
  • Community interaction programme: The ICG has been taking several steps to educate fishermen communities in the coastal areas of the country to help them ward off threats from the sea as they serve as the first line formation in India’s coastal security architecture. Coastal security awareness drives/campaigns are conducted by the Indian Navy and ICG in all coastal districts of the country in order to better prepare the fishermen and coastal communities and to serve as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Indian coastal security mechanism.
  • Sagarmala: Sagarmala is a series of projects designed to leverage India’s coastline and inland waterways to drive industrial development. The maritime sector in the country has faced several constraints in its development, mainly the lack of a cohesive institutional arrangement, weak infrastructure at ports and beyond, and limited economic benefit to the region and the community at large. The key objective of the Sagarmala series of projects is to develop port infrastructure in India to provide for quick, efficient and cost-effective transport to and from ports. It also includes the establishment of rail/ road linkages with port terminals, which will result in last mile connectivity to ports, development of linkages with new regions and enhanced multi-modal connectivity, including rail, inland water, coastal and road services. The main aim of the project is to utilise the country’s 7,517 km coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways, and strategic locations on key international maritime trade routes.
  • Operation Swan: In response to the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Operation Swan was launched in April 1993 as a joint operation of the Indian Navy and the ICG in conjunction with the respective state administration. The primary aim of this operation was to prevent the unauthorised and illegal entry of men and landing of arms, explosives and contraband along the coast of Gujarat and Maharashtra by sea. It also focused on obtaining intelligence about unusual movements or activities of personnel near the coastline having a bearing on security and to facilitate immediate actions to stall attempts at violating the sea frontiers for nefarious purposes.

Air Space Security | Security challenges and their management in border areas

  • Airspace is the portion of the atmosphere controlled by a country above its territory, including its territorial waters.
  • By international law, every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory, including its territorial sea.
  • Thus, a country’s sovereign airspace corresponds with the maritime definition of territorial waters as being 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) out from a nation’s coastline.
  • Airspace not within any country’s territorial limit is considered international, similar to the high seas in maritime law. However, a country may, by international agreement, assume responsibility for controlling parts of international airspace, such as those over the oceans. For instance, the United States provides air traffic control services over a large part of the Pacific Ocean, even though the airspace is international.
  • The principle of airspace sovereignty was affirmed in the Paris Convention on the Regulation of Aerial Navigation (1919) and subsequently by various other multilateral treaties.
  • Thus, under the Geneva Convention on the High Seas (1958) as well as under international customary law, the freedom of the high seas applies to aerial navigation as well as to maritime navigation.
  • Vertically, airspace ends where outer space begins.
  • However, there is no international agreement on the vertical extent of sovereign airspace.
  • Every state is entitled to regulate the entry of foreign aircraft into its territory and that persons within its territory are subject to its laws.
  • States normally permit foreign private aircraft to visit or fly through their territory without too much difficulty.
  • Such aircraft registered in states that are parties to the 1944 Chicago Convention are allowed into the territories of all other contracting states without prior diplomatic permission.


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