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Internal Security Challenges

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Categories: Internal Security: the rough elephant, Published: 20th Dec, 2022


  • From independence, India has tackled homegrown insurgencies, externally fuelled rebellions, militancy, and terrorism. At a time when we, as a nation, are concerned about external threats from countries, it is crucial to give equal importance to our internal security. In fact, the two go together hand in hand and a peaceful, united country can face external threats with great confidence and efficiency.

Meaning of Internal Security:

  • Internal Security is the process of maintaining peace within the boundaries of a Sovereign state and other self-governing territories, usually done by maintaining national law. The liability to maintain Internal Security UPSC internal security lies in the hands of the police, paramilitary forces, and in exceptional cases the military. Kautilya in his Arthashahtra places threats into four categories:
    • Internal
    • External
    • Internally aided external
    • Externally aided internal
  • Fast-paced advancements in Cyberspace, Artificial Intelligence (AI), biological vectors, and autonomous air-land-sea mobile platforms have phenomenally enhanced the internal security vulnerabilities to threats emanating not only from within but also from beyond the national borders.

Important aspects of internal security:

  • Upholding the rules and laws made by the authority.
  • Accepting the sovereign power of people.
  • Protecting India’s national sovereignty.
  • Securing the territorial integrity of India.
  • Promoting India’s rise to its rightful place in international affairs.
  • Ensuring a peaceful internal environment within India.
  • Creating a climate for our citizens that is just, equitable, prosperous, and shields them from risks to life and livelihood.

The 43rd Report to the concerned Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Ministry of Home Affairs has brought out that “210 of the 535 districts in the country are affected by serious internal security problems or public disorders” and almost 40 per-cent of areas facing serious disorders of one or the other kind.

Internal security issues in the country can broadly be categorized as follows:

  • Terrorism in the hinterland of the country
  • Left Wing Extremism (LWE) in certain areas
  • Insurgency in the North Eastern States
  • Cross-Border terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir
  • Drugs and narcotics trafficking
  • Additionally, cyber security threats, have also emerged as the latest security challenges. In this context, the AIIMS cyber-attack is a wake-up call for national security.

Various Challenges to India’s Internal Security:

  • Naxalism: Among the internal security perils afflicting India, an alarmingly burgeoning is LWE commonly dubbed as the Naxal-Maoist threat.
    • At least 22 jawans were killed and 31 sustained injuries in the deadly encounter between security forces and Naxals in Tarrem, along the Sukma-Bijapur border in Chhattisgarh.

Specific Measures were taken by the Central Government to Combat Left-Wing Extremism

  • Ban on CPI (Maoist)
  • Strengthening the Intelligence Mechanism
  • Better Inter-State Coordination
  • Tackling the Problem of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
  • India Reserve (IR)/ Specialized India Reserve Battalion (SIRB)
  • Terrorism: Pathankot attack that took place on 31st December 2015, the attack of 26/11 on the Taj hotel, the Indian parliament attack in 2001, etc are grim reminders of how fatal the menace of terrorism can be. Reasons for cross-border insurgency:
    • Availability of weapons: Easy availability of small arms in neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar has been another factor behind the sustenance of insurgency in the region.
    • Ethnic affinity: Many ethnic groups in the region, especially in the areas bordering the international boundaries, have more in common with the population living across the boundary than with their own nationals.
    • Safe Havens: The shelter and support that the Indian insurgent groups receive from across the border have been one of the most important factors which have helped them in sustaining their rebellion.
    • Economic support: The Golden Triangle (comprising Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand) has provided an economic boom for the insurgent groups to sustain themselves.
  • Insurgency: Insurgency in Northeast India involves multiple armed factions among which some favor a separate state while others seek regional autonomy. Some groups demand complete independence.
  • Separatist movements: Separatist feelings in some states of India, notably Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, and in Naxal-Maoist afflicted regions are a major threat to the unity and integrity of India.
  • Illegal Migration: The continuance of the illegal immigration of Rohingyas into India and their continued stay in India is found to be having serious national security ramifications and poses serious security threats.
    • Identity threats for the local population, demographic changes, recruitment of migrants by anti-state actors, etc. are some of the security issues posed by migrants.
  • Cyber-driven crimes: With cybercrimes opening up as a new battlefront, India needs to fortify its information networks against malware.
  • Drug trafficking: This two-way illegal movement of narcotics and drugs poses a significant threat to national security as the breach of international borders indicates that arms smuggling and infiltration are equally feasible along with terror financing by the money generated by the illegal sale of narcotics and drugs.
  • Communalism and Growing Regional Assertiveness: The growth of religious polarization, increasing incidents of mob violence as recently seen in Uttar Pradesh where policemen are killed and enhanced violence in various regions in the name of reservation, agricultural distress, etc. pose a significant internal security challenge to India in the longer run.
  • Money Laundering: Money laundering is the process by which a large amount of illegally obtained money, from drug trafficking, terrorist activity, or other serious crimes, is given the appearance of having originated from a legitimate source. It allows the criminals to maintain control over their proceeds.
    • Money Laundering threatens national governments and international relations between them through the corruption of officials and legal systems.

Internal Security Doctrine:

  • India has seen crisis after crisis resulting from militancy, insurgency, terrorist attacks, unsettled border disputes, etc. For Example, the Terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase (2016), the 26/11 Mumbai blasts, etc. opacity in the working of different intelligence agencies. To fill the gap in the existing system, the need of the hour is standard operating procedure i.e., internal security doctrine. This can be achieved by:
  • First, Create and defend a conducive environment for the well-being, prosperity, and happiness of all Indians.
  • Second, Protecting the constitutional order, individual freedom, the territory, social cohesion, and national resources.
  • Third, Amass and project power across all domains: (a) Develop both continental and maritime power projection capabilities; (b) Develop comprehensive deterrence across all domains; (c) Humane and effective management of internal security; (d) Develop intelligence as a credible instrument of statecraft
  • Fourth, reimagine national security capacity: (a) Boost the fighting spirit of the armed forces; (b) “Whole of Government” approach to national security management. The Government should deploy a wide array of economic, military, and diplomatic tools to counter potential threats. This includes market access, visa controls, investment deals, diplomatic support, and so on; (c) Nurturing a globally competitive defense technology industry; (d) Building leadership across government that understands the prudent use of power.

Institutions to strengthen Internal Security

  • National Investigation Agency (NIA)
  • The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC)
  • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)
  • Combating Financing of Terrorism Cell (CFT Cell)

Some of the important measures which need to be taken on a priority basis are:

  • A comprehensive National Security Doctrine for India must be defined so that there is no ambiguity even with a change in government.
  • A dedicated North East Security Council should be constituted.
  • Army’s deployment in internal security duties should be for a limited period
  • Police forces must be revamped to strengthen their internal security management capabilities
  • The infrastructure and weaponry of the border guarding forces need to be upgraded.
  • Genuine grievances and aspirations of the border populations should not be kept in abeyance
  • Illegal migration should be curbed and the demographic balance must be maintained
  • The possibility of having an integrated All India Services cadre for the north-eastern states should be examined.
  • Lateral entry must be actively considered to incorporate domain specialists in senior policy-making positions in the country.
  • The country has suffered as a result of over-dependence on All India Services personnel manning national security at the highest levels.
  • Effective measures must be taken to root out corruption and proper utilization of funds allotted for development ensured.
  • Political processes should be revived wherever dormant and peace talks initiated or expedited, as the case may be, with insurgent groups without compromising national unity and integrity.


  • The weakening of the federal structure, increasing economic inequalities, and the rise of communalism are creating fissures in society, and pose a real threat to the country. Taking the people along on the path of development and secularism is the only way to ensure a secure India from internal and external vulnerabilities.

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