Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

This article deals with ‘Security challenges and their management in border areas.’ This is part of our series on ‘Internal Security’ which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Definition: State Actors vs Non-State Actors

State Actors (SA)

  • These are based on the premise of sovereignty, recognition of statehood and control of territory & population.
  • Eg: India, the US, Micronesia (irrespective of size).

Non-State Actors (NSA)

  • In Post-Cold War Era and with the advent of Globalisation, the concept of Nation-State has experienced erosion and Non-State Actors have become the force to reckon with.
  • Non-State Actors are not always sympathetic to national interests but their loyalty lies with group, corporation or community interests.
  • The traditional hierarchy which used to exist earlier with the military dominating economic & social interests doesn’t exist anymore because of the rise of NSAs.
  • Examples of NSAs include
International Government Organisation NATO, UNO etc.
NGO Amnesty International, Greenpeace
Multinational Corporations Operating in multiple sovereign states like Shell (oil), Coke, Amazon, Google etc.
International Media BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN etc.
Violent Non-State Actors Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba etc.
Religious Groups Roman Catholic Church, Vishav Hindu Parishad etc.
Transnational Diasporic Communities Indian Diaspora affects the policies back home.

Challenges to India’s Internal Security from NSAs 

Challenges to India's Internal Security from NSAs

1 . Terrorism

  • Non-State Actors are mainly terrorist groups who execute terror attacks.
  • In the case of India, these terrorist groups are either secessionist or Islamic fundamentalists.
  • These Terrorist Organisations have been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967.
  • These include
Lashkar-e-Taiba Jaish e Mohammad
Harkat ul Mujahideen Hizb ul Mujahideen
United Liberation Front Of Assam National Demo Front of Bodoland
LTTE CPI (Maoist)
Babbar Khalsa International Khalistan Commando Force

2. Naxalism

  • Naxalism was started as a movement for land reforms. Later, it took a violent & dangerous turn aiming at the overpowering democratic structure of India via violent armed struggle.
  • Naxalists get financial, ideological and technological support from external  NSAs (especially foreign leftist organisations from the Philippines, Turkey and China.)

3. Insurgency

  • A large number of insurgent groups are active in North-East with demands ranging from separate state to regional autonomy to even complete independence.
  • It is difficult to handle these insurgents because of difficult terrain, porous border & external support of adjoining states.
  • There is huge unemployment in this region. Hence, unemployed youth provide an easy target for the recruiters.
  • There are interlinkages between outfits that ensure a smooth transfer of military hardware & technology.  Even the weakest outfit has access to sophisticated technology.
  • State and Non-State Actors help them in various ways. The examples mentioned below will help in understanding this
Naga Insurgents They received patronage from the Chinese regime.
They enjoy safe havens in Bhutan, Bangladesh & Myanmar.
Naga outfits like NSCN (IM) have close links with NDFB, Naxalists etc. They even have links with Burmese groups like United Wa Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
ULFA ULFA waged an international struggle by attending meetings of the Unrepresented Nations Peoples Organisation.

4. Cyber Attacks

  • Cyber attacks are carried out by cybercriminals, cyber terrorists and other foreign states.
  • While cybercriminals indulge in such activities for monetary gains but cyber terrorists want to further their political objectives.
  • India’s exponential growth in the IT sector and various e-governance measures make it extra vulnerable to such attacks. Eg: the 2010 Commonwealth Games hosted by India witnessed Cyber attacks from Pakistan & China to damage information systems.
  • It has been noticed that most of the cyber attacks on India originate from the US, China, Russia, East-Europe & Iran.

5. Counterfeit Currency / Economic 

  • It is very difficult to distinguish between fake & real currency nowadays because the fake currency is printed with state of art technology using security paper supplied by state actors.
  • It is a sub-conventional warfare strategy pursued by Pakistan against India.
  • Fake currency is mainly brought to India through the porous borders of Nepal & Bangladesh.
  • A terrorist organisation like Hizb ul Mujahideen also use the fake currency to fund their programmes. 
  • To tackle this, Government has taken various measures like
    1. Demonetisation of Indian currency notes.
    2. New notes have more security features. Hence, they are difficult to counterfeit.
    3. A special cell under NIA has been formed to counter terror funding and fake currency.

6. Communalism

  • Various reports point towards the fact that domestic extremist organisations get financial & ideological support from external religious organisations (NSAs) and Foreign States (Pakistan, China etc.).
  • Eg :
    • Kashmiri Terrorists are funded by Pakistan.
    • Islamic terrorists are getting ideological support from ISIS.
    • Saudi Arabia is promoting and funding radical Wahhabism in the world.
    • Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation and Peace TV are radicalising Muslim Youth in India and Bangladesh. 

7. Drug  Trafficking

  • Due to its location, India has become a transit hub & destination for drugs originating from GOLDEN TRIANGLE (Myanmar, Thailand and Laos) & GOLDEN CRESCENT (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran).
  • There is nexus between drug traffickers, organised criminal networks & terrorists which is powerful enough to destabilise even a whole nation. Money generated by this trade is also used to fund insurgents & terrorists.
Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle

8. Human Trafficking

  • Human trafficking in major part involves abduction, buying and selling of women and children for prostitution, forced marriages and bonded labour.
  • India has been both the source and destination of human trafficking
    1. Women and children are trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh to be sold inside the country for prostitution.
    2. Women are trafficked from India to the Middle East and other European countries where they are employed as low-skilled labourers, domestic workers and sexual exploitation.

9. Piracy

  • Piracy is a serious threat to India because the Indian economy is heavily dependent on the export and import of goods. Securing the Sea Lane of Commerce is important for India.
  • In the Indian Ocean, Somalian pirates are active around the Horn of Africa which pose a great threat to the energy security of India as oil tankers also pass through this region.
  • To tackle this, the Indian government has taken various measures including escort vessels in the Gulf of Aden.

10. Security threats posed by Indian Diaspora

  • Indian (Sikh) diaspora in countries like  UK, Canada, USA, Australia etc. supports the Khalistan issue.
  • Indian (Muslim) diaspora in Gulf nations is indoctrinated during their stay and used for carrying out terrorist activities and propaganda on their return to India.
  • A large number of Sri Lankan Tamils were forced to take refuge in Tamil Nadu during the Civil War in Sri Lanka between Sri Lankan Army and LTTE. They along with the people of Tamil Nadu exert pressure on Tamil Nadu and the Indian government to take a stand against Sri Lankan government, causing strain in Indo-Lanka relations.

11. Threats posed by Multi-National Corporations (MNCs)

  • In today’s globalised world, MNCs are influencing the global economy and have become more powerful than nation-states.
  • The actions of powerful mining MNCs like Vedanta and POSCO and subsequent encroachment of the lands of Adivasis results in the emergence of Naxal / Maoist movements in these areas.
  • Powerful seed companies like Monsanto and Bayer can pose a great threat to the food security of the nation by patenting the technology used in the manufacturing of GM and HYV seeds.
  • MNCs shatter the faith of the common public in the government. Government loses its legitimacy and people tend to believe that the government is working for these MNCs and big corporates.

12. Threats posed by NGOs

  • NGOs have a soft glove and apologist attitude towards Naxalites, Insurgents & Terrorists.
  • NGOs like Amnesty International force the government to repeal some acts like AFSPA which can prove dangerous in some situations.
  • Intelligence Bureau (2014) also brought to the forefront the obstructionist role played by Foreign Funded NGOs and loss of GDP to the tune of 2% happening due to their protests.
  • To counter this, Parliament has passed  Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) in 2010 to regulate the flow of foreign funds to NGOs

Part 2: Role of External State Actors in creating threats to Internal Security of India

1 . Internal Security threats posed by China

  • India and China have long-standing border dispute which leads to frequent Chinese intrusions into Indian territories. In recent times, China is following an assertive policy as evident from the Galwan clashes (2020).
  • China is supporting the insurgents in the North-East States corroborated by the fact that counter-insurgency operations in the North East have resulted in the recovery of dozens of made in China rifles, pistols, grenades and other ammunition. NIA has found evidence that the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are buying weapons from Norinco (a state-owned weapon manufacture in China).
  • China  also provides shelter to North Eastern ethnic separatist militants (eg: NSCN, ULFA etc.)
  • Maoist/ Naxalism movement has got its philosophical, moral, financial and intellectual support from China since the beginning.
  • China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which connects Xinxiang with Gwadar port passes through Pakistani Occupied Kashmir and undermines Indian sovereignty over the region.
  • China is building a large number of naval bases in the Indian Ocean in order to encircle India through its String of Pearl strategy.
String of Pearls
  • Cheap Chinese mobiles sold in the Indian market manufactured by companies like Xiaomi poses a threat of surveillance and leakage of data by the Chinese state. The Indian military has barred its employees from using Chinese mobiles.

2. Internal Security threats posed by Pakistan

Internal Security threats posed by Pakistan
  • Terrorism in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir is the direct manifestation of Pakistan’s policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts.
  • ISI of Pakistan also supports Naxal groups in order to foment disturbance and law and order problem in India.
  • In the North-East, Pakistan’s ISI has trained and financially supported groups such as ULFA.
  • Pakistan is encouraging non-state actors like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with active funding, logistical and military support to foment unrest in India.
  • Pakistan is trying to flood India with fake currency so as it impact the Indian economy and weaken the trust of the public in the Indian currency.
  • Flooding the border states with drugs so as to destroy the youth of India and produce unrest in the country.
  • Indulge in complex cyber attacks on Indian companies, government websites and databases.

3. Internal Security threats posed by Bangladesh

Cattle Smuggling 
Iluman Trafficking 
Illegal Migration
  • Bangladesh acts as a safe house to terrorists. During the Khalida Zia regime, DGFI (Bangladesh’s intelligence agency) also used to support insurgent groups in the North-East.
  • Illegal Migration from Bangladesh to North-Eastern states has been the source of communal and ethnic tension in India, resulting in large scale demographic changes in the North-East region
  • Due to the porous nature of the border, there is a rampant drug, human and cattle trafficking. While there is no evidence of direct state involvement, in this case, it is its inactivity to resolve the issue that is concerning.

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