You are on page 1of 3


The Great Wall of China is one of the structures visible from space. It was built to protect
China from its enemies and invaders from the north, especially from Mongols. Border
protection has been a strong priority since ancient times to ensure security to protect
kingdoms, empires and in the 21 st century for the nations. This is more pronounced when
the borders have a vast geography, hostile neighbors and regional and ethnicity issues. India
has a very long land boundary of more than 15000 km and a coastline of 7516.6 Km. This
vast expanse in its borders creates challenges in ensuring efficient surveillance, security and
law and order. It is therefore, Indias necessity to maintain a strong border management
while finding solutions to the challenges.

The importance of borders came alive with the different wars that were fought between
India vis--vis Pakistan and China in 1965, 71, 99 and 1962 respectively. While Pakistans
state sponsored terrorism creates problems in the western border, Chinas slow creeping
acts of territorial transgression in the Northern and North-Eastern borders have been of
prime concern. The recent Doklam incident where China and India came face to face due to
issue over building of a road by China, close to India, Bhutan, China Tri-junction, reflects the
importance of maintaining a constant vigil over our neighbors activities near borders. The
borders with other nations also have their own problems. Smuggling of cattle, Fake Indian
currency notes, arms, drugs and human trafficking are prevalent in borders with
Bangladesh. Given these many problems associated with our borders, it is necessary to look
at what challenges are faced in Border management here.

One of the foremost problems with Indian borders with neighboring countries like Pakistan,
China and Bangladesh is the undemarcated borders. The Radcliffe line that marks the Indo-
Pak and Indo-Bangladesh borders have posed problems in perception of borders. The line of
Actual Control was adopted after the 1962 war with China. However, the unreasonable claims
by China in Aksai-Chin, Arunachal Pradesh and recently in Doklam shows that
undemarcation has been a big issue. The lack of common understanding results in
intrusions. The geography and terrain in the border areas create another set of problems for
security enforcement. 9 soldiers had got trapped and lost their lives in an avalanche in
Siachen last year. The presence of rivers and riverine islands, deserts, hills, difficult terrains
adds to difficulties in surveillance. This creates problems in logistics and accessibility of
these regions. Added to these, the lack of infrastructure like proper roads, medical facilities,
surveillance equipments like scanners, thermal imagers is also another pullback in
maintaining vigilance and surveillance in these areas. There are some economic problems
too associated with these areas. Local populations derive their livelihoods from nearby
areas. Many a times, many fishermen from Pakistan, and India are caught crossing borders in
return for a better catch. Culturally, the people near land borders share same ethnicity and
speak similar dialects. This poses a challenge in identification of insurgents and foreigners.
The locals attitude is yet another issue. The Nagas in the North-East have resorted to
economic blockades and demand greater Nagalim. These social and cultural issues provide
cover to insurgents like those of NSCN-K which carried out attacks on a troop contingent in
Manipur. There also have been voices against AFSPA act which the government uses in
disturbed areas. The allegations of human rights violations and sexual abuses by security
forces also create another set of problems which have international repercussions. Above all,
the prevalence of organized crime, terrorism and unrest promoted by Pakistan especially in
Kashmir has been a big challenge for security affairs.
The presence of such large number of challenges and issues show the need to have a strong
border management. The Government of India has taken a number of steps in this regard.
The border management is undertaken by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It follows the policy
of one border-one one guarding force. The Border security force looks after the Pakistan
and Bangladesh borders. The China border is secured by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The
Myanmar border is managed by the Assam Rifles. The coastal security is in the charge of
Coast Guard. After the Pathankot and Uri attacks, a Comprehensive Integrated Border
Management system was launched for a 24x7x365 surveillance of borders. It envisages to
lock the borders so as to prevent infiltration of terrorists through a network of radars,
CCTVs, thermal image and night vision equipments. It was also recently revealed by the Chief
of Army staff that India follows a Cold start Doctrine, which envisages offensive operations
and capturing of Pakistani territory without escalating issues to provoke an N-attack. On the
coastline, the security is administered by a 3-tier structure of Coastal Police, Coast Guard and
finally the Indian Navy. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the need for a comprehensive coastal
security was realized and Coast Guard has been given the charge of securing Indias coasts.
The government has also undertaken other initiatives for economic development like the
Border Area Development Programme which aims to meet the development needs and
prosperity of people living in border areas by infrastructure development. To facilitate cross
border trade, Free Border movement is allowed on the Indo-Myanmar border upto 16 km.
Integrated Check posts have been started at various places for people to people contact.

However, despite these steps, there are many concerns that have a bearing on the border
management. Recently, there were allegations of poor quality food being served in the
security forces. The Jawans also complain of difficult working conditions, pay anomalies
when compared with the army. The prevalence of Sahayak/ Buddy system and absence of a
grievance redressal mechanism along with victimization of complainants need ponderance.
There are also concerns with lack of coordination among various security agencies like Coast
Guard, Indian, Navy, Intelligence which had led to the 2008 attacks on Mumbai. The dearth of
equipment and infrastructure and essential services is another issue highlighted. Poor
intelligence and multiplicity of organizations also delay in decision making which has the
potential in undermining National borders and consequently our national security. The long
presence of AFSPA in disturbed areas depicts that it has not been able to bring peace in these
areas and has even led to Supreme Court ordering inquiries into atrocities committed
against people.

Therefore, there is a need to adopt a few steps to bring a holistic approach in our border
management to tackle the security challenges. There is a need for improving infrastructure
not only for the security forces but also for the local population. This can make them eyes
and ears in security. Their cooperation can be ensured by bringing development in the
region. The youth need jobs and peaceful atmosphere. The unrest in Kashmir need to be
resolved at the earliest for tackling radicalization and incitement by Pakistan. There is also a
need to strengthen intelligence sharing and coordination among the security agencies.
Initiatives like NATGRID, National Counter terrorism Centre can help in building a smart
security system. On the international level, multilateral and bilateral mechanisms like
SAARC, BIMSTEC and Track-2 initiatives like people to people contact can go a long way in
ensuring peace in these regions which was evident in the way Doklam issue was resolved
before the BRICS summit.

Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee once remarked you can change friends but not
neighbors. While the restoration of peace in borders is a long term agenda that needs to be
the goal, the medium term and short term goals must be to focus on participation of people,
government and Security forces so that Indias sovereignty over its territories is ensured.