India has vast territorial boundaries which includes both Land and Coastal Borders. We have land borders with seven countries including Afghanistan ( the border of India touching Afghanistan is presently in POK). The coastal borders has Indian Ocean and two major seas Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea flanking the Indian peninsula. The strategic location of India makes each of its border critical .
Ensuring territorial integrity ( both Land and Sea) is the foremost task of any sovereign Government for which it has to keep its borders safe and secure. This brings us to the question 'How to ensure safe and secure Border'.
India has more than 15000 km of Land borders and 7500 km of Coastal borders with 1382 large and small islands. While some borders are peaceful, some are not so peaceful whereas some are hostile. Here much depends on our relations with the neighbours across the respective border. Considering the uniqueness of our borders, their topography, the demography at the borders etc makes it a challenge to have a safe and secure border.
We have both 'Peaceful' borders ( International) as well as 'Live' borders (Line of Control & Line of Actual Control). Further International borders are demarcated as well as un-demarcated.
The Physical features of our borders vary widely from snow clad mountainous terrain to hot barren sandy desert area. Thick forest strewn with wild life to thickly populated areas. There are stretches on LAC which are uninhabited as it is very inhospitable terrain. Long coastline interspersed with numerous creeks and tough sea coast, critical sea lanes of communication, large as well as tiny islands some of them rarely visited etc. Further we have territorial dispute with Pakistan in Sir Creek area in Gulf of Kutch off Gujarat coast, the issues of fishermen in Palk bay area between india and Sri Lanka etc
The Social features of our borders are equally divergent from border to border. There are cross border ethno-linguistic cultural affinities and familial ties where we observe both intra border as well as inter border variations. Presence of cross border terrorism, crime and illegal migration make specific borders sensitive. There are also issues of lack of development in border areas which is also a factor.
Our borders( especially land borders) unlike several other borders across the world are not solely based on delineation of natural features ( ie watershed principles etc) and other general principles of border demarcation, which makes our borders very complex.
Considering the complexity of task of ensuring safe and secure borders we have adopted approach to manage borders The concept of Border Management has been outlined in the Report of Group of Ministers on National Security System in 2001 and was given formal status with implementation of the report. A full fledged Department of Border Management was created in MHA in 2004 based on the recommendation of this report to deal comprehensively with the subject of Border Management. The mandate of the Dept of Border Management is given in MHA website mha.gov.in. While the MHA annual report (also hosted on MHA website) outlines the yearly progress, activities and other details.
The Border Management interpreted in its widest sense implies coordination of concerted actions of all stakeholders viz- border residents, Trade across borders, political & strategic considerations, administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory & economic agencies etc
The presence of multiple stake holders in managing border affairs further compounds the complexity of task of border management.
Therefore there is need to adopt holistic approach in formulating a comprehensive strategy towards improvement of border management.
Our principles of Border Guarding are based on ‘one Border, one Force’ meaning that a particular Border is guarded by one Force only and no other Force is present on that country specific border. However LAC and LOC are different as both these are live borders therefore its majorly in control of Army ( though respective Border Guarding Force are also present ie ITBP for LAC and BSF for LOC ) as on other side of LOC we have Pak Army while on other side of LAC we have PLA. However in operations there is close coordination amongst respective Forces.
As land borders are used for trade, we. have several land ports across Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar etc borders. All these land ports are administered by the Land Port Authority of India an organisation under Dept of BM in MHA. There are large number of stakeholders connected with the LPAI like Customs, Local Police, Respective Border Guarding Forces etc.
It is worthwhile to mention that as far as Coastal Policing is concerned it is subject of respective State Police upto 12 nautical miles from the baseline ( Coast) ie territorial waters which under sovereign control as per UNCLOS ( UN Convention of Laws of Seas) where all Indian Laws are applicable including CrPC, CPC etc. The territorial waters are supposed to be dominated by State Police however Coast Guard, Navy, NCB, Customs etc are also present. Beyond 12 nautical miles and upto 24 nautical miles is Contiguous zone where again all laws are applicable, however its not under State Police. contiguous Zone is dominated by Customs, NCB, Coast Guard, Navy etc. Beyond Contiguous zone ie 24 Nautical miles and upto 200 nautical miles is Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where in India has rights over the mineral etc besides other rights under UNCLOS. EEZ is mainly dominated by Navy assisted by Coast Guard and other agencies on as required basis like NCB etc.
There are both Macro & Micro level challenges in dealing with issues for effective Border Management. As each border is unique, it calls for unique strategy/approach of Border management.
For glimpse of what interventions, measures, tools we use in border management following is highlighted:
Concern for border People by ushering development
Creation of infrastructure alongside borders at faster pace
Institutional mechanism for Better coordination amongst multiple stakeholders
Institutional mechanism to engage neighbours like bilateral engagements
Increased use of Technology including Space technology.
Facilitation and strengthening of legitimate trade & commerce.
Strengthening of Policing & patrolling.
Holistic Development of Islands.
Regulating entry and exit of fishermen
Using Technology for monitoring all sub 20 meters-boats.
Security Audit of major and minor ports.
Acquisition of seaborne assets.
Creation of coordination mechanism at the state and district levels
For multiple stake holders.
Above is just a glimpse of highly complex issue of border management. It is evident that there are several issues to be resolved.
For effective Border Management it calls for uniform comprehensive strategic perspective while dealing with various issues by respective stakeholders. Piecemeal approach will not be effective. Therefore it is necessary to create awareness and sensitize all concerned including people at large about the concerns and issues involved. However it has to be work in progress always as the considerations may undergo change with passage of time due to changes in Geopolitical situations, Technological changes, Domestic affairs, financial resources, changes in Policies, Rules and Procedures, etc
As of now, there is no Forum/think Tank, accessible to all stakeholders (especially for those outside Government) like MSMEs, Industry, Academia, Civilians etc. It is this gap SAPI visualises to fill and progressively work for better border management. SAPI will facilitate development of comprehensive strategic perspective for effective Border Management.
SAPI will organise events like webinars, round-tables, Talks, Seminars , conclaves , discussions etc with focus on sensitizing stakeholders .
We extend invitation to all participate in activities of SAPI by flagging issues; solutions; ideas etc and help us develop a comprehensive and strategic perspective for border management. . All of us who have dealt with this subject and are in position to contribute by sharing their thoughts and experiences are welcome. Some of the suggested topics to initiate engagement with SAPI are as follows :-
Leveraging Technologies as force multipliers in Border Management.
Creating awareness for safe & secure Borders
Necessity of development in Border Areas.
Sensitize on uniqueness of respective border.
Facilitate Understanding of Trade through land borders
Emphasis on effective coordination amongst various Stakeholders.
Encouraging study of Maritime Borders , Islands with aim for safe and secure Coastal Border.
Promote tourism in Border Areas.
Suggestions on leveraging Space Technologies in Border Management.
Holistic development of Islands
Created By Akshay Kharade At Widespread Solutions