India’s border is highly porous, often unmarked and unfenced, with dangerous mountains and other natural barriers becoming real challenges to border guards. These inefficient problems lead to issues in border management and are related to internal security challenges as follows:
- Drugs: Illegal drugs are brought into India from these porous areas, such as the Nepal border, along with some areas in Pakistan that have been known for it. Illegal drugs in Punjab and other states have been sold for funding organised crime groups and terrorist organisations.
- Illegal arms: Unfenced borders lead to the smuggling of arms within and outside the country. Punjab, most of the northeastern states along with Nepal and Bangladesh border, are known for this. It has been a known fact that even naxals use some Chinese made weapons, and many extremist groups in the north-east states are using outside weapons.
- Difficult terrain: India-China Border is composed of difficult Himalayan terrain consisting of peaks and heights of more than 6000M. In such rough terrain of mountainous tracks, and fast-flowing rivers, it becomes very difficult to patrol borders.
- Harsh climatic condition: Climatic conditions on the North, West and Northeastern borders are extreme. In such extreme weather, continuous watch and oversight are problematic.
- Porous nature of border: India’s land borders with Pakistan in the Himalayan region, Myanmar in the north-eastern hills, and Bangladesh are porous with nullah, fast-flowing rivers etc. These are often used by infiltrators and smugglers.
- Undefined borders: Undefined and unfenced border with China and Pakistan in the north-western part and with Myanmar in the north-eastern part is another challenge. It gives insurgent groups, arms dealers, drug smugglers, and human traffickers safe travelling options across the border.
- Maritime border issues: Especially on the west coast, there is always the possibility of infiltration of terrorists in ferryboats/ fishermen boats, as happened in the case Mumbai Attack in 2008.
- Poor technology usage: India’s borders are porous, difficult terrain, jungles, hostile neighbours etc., making border guarding a very difficult task, but the usage of modern technologies like drones can be very useful in border management and keeping 24X7 vigilance.
- Stress among existing personnel: Border forces also suffer from long hours of duty and long-stay away from home, substandard behaviour of officers towards their juniors etc. These issues affect the morale of security personnel which ultimately affects border guarding.
- Illegal migration: Illegal migration of the people across the border leads to problems of increased crimes and carrying out illegal activities, which can be dangerous for national security as well as internal security.
- Ethnic conflicts: Ethnic conflicts in the north-eastern states are not new for India, but illegal migration has made this a very critical issue. Ethnic conflicts lead to riots, the killing of people, etc.
- Change in demography: Illegal migration becomes a challenge when migrants come into India without having legal documents and passports. They come and settle here, which leads to change in the demography of the region.
- Myanmar border: It is known for safe passage for the insurgent groups of the north-eastern states like NSCN-K, NSCNIM, etc. They carry out their operations and take shelter in the jungles of Myanmar.
Hence, it is very much needed to fence India’s border with all the land boundary nations. Taking various measures such as the capacity building of the security forces, fastening, and implementing smart fencing of India’s border in difficult regions, is the need of the hour. The use of drones and strengthening surveillance with the use of thermal imaging cameras could also add to this management. Also, borders need to be converted into frontiers, which can bring prosperity to the bordering regions.