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Question – India’s north-eastern borders are highly vulnerable in terms of management and security Discuss. – 3 July 2021
India shares its borders with almost all the countries of South Asia. Apart from this, India also has a long maritime border with the Indian Ocean. For India, strong border management is essential for national and regional security as well as economic development. Whenever India does not protect and manage its long land and sea border in a better way, then it has to face the risk. Some time ago there was a terrorist attack on the military camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir, and on the Pathankot Air Force Station. Terrorist attack shows that our management is weak at some places along the borders.
- Some of our vulnerabilities in the border areas are related to technological deficiencies like new technology, such as thermal damages, night viewing equipment, surveillance cameras and drones etc. Their absence creates many risks, and enemies can take advantage of them. Another aspect of this relates to the conduct and enforcement of standard practice, to ensure the protection of critical border infrastructure.
- In the absence of demarcation of borders with neighboring countries, India has to face many disputes, such as land claims by neighboring countries, disputes over energy and water sources, etc. With India having a porous border with neighboring countries, efficient border management has become a national necessity.
- The major challenges posed by border disputes and border areas in India are illegal immigration, increase in cross-border terrorism, separatist movements supported by external forces, counterfeit currency flows, smuggling of illegal arms and drugs, becoming a refuge for criminals, etc.
North-Eastern Border of India:
Border areas have their own problems and peculiarities, which increase the pressure on their economic and environmental resources due to illegal entry of people. The North-East region of India comprises of eight states, namely Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
- Indo-Nepal Border: The Indo-Nepal border is open and porous, the movement of Indian and Nepalese citizens on the Indo-Nepal border is governed by the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950, which provides for free movement. The border is prone to human trafficking, drug trafficking, illegal smuggling of weapons and wildlife products as well as criminal and terrorist elements. The SashastraSeemaBal (SSB) has been deployed as a Border Security Force along the Indo-Nepal border to prevent misuse of the border by anti-social elements including terrorists/criminals.
- India-Bangladesh Border: India shares the longest border with Bangladesh which is about 4096 km where the lack of satisfactory natural boundaries has made the border dangerous. There are many problems on the India-Bangladesh border. Especially the problem of illegal migration and animal trafficking has become a matter of serious concern. In addition, smuggling of arms and other essential commodities such as sugar, salt and diesel, human and drug smuggling, counterfeit Indian currency, kidnapping and theft are rampant along the Indo-Bangladesh border.
- India-Myanmar Border: India and Myanmar share a common border of 1,643 km and a special international border for the north-eastern states. It begins at the India-China-Myanmar tri-junction in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and passes through the states of Nagaland, Manipur, and ends at the tri-junction of India. The entire border is zigzag, and there are forests on both sides. Although the border has been properly demarcated, the India-Myanmar border poses many challenges. In particular, cross-border ethnic ties and rugged terrain movements complicate the overall development of the region. However, inter-tribal conflicts, extremism, transborder ethnic ties also adversely affect the security of the border areas. The border’s location on the edge of the “Golden Triangle” facilitates the unrestricted illegal flow of drugs into Indian territory. Human trafficking continues across the border. The Assam Rifles is the Border Guarding Force for the Indo-Myanmar border and recently the Ministry of Home Affairs has formed the 29-Battalion Indo-Myanmar Border Force.
India-China Border: The total length of the India-China border is 3488 km. Currently, this border is guarded by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and was created in 1962 after Chinese rule. The border is not fully demarcated, and the process of clarifying and verifying the Line of Actual Control is on. The region is characterized by high altitude terrain and unexplored habitat, resulting in inadequate infrastructure development in these areas.