Monday, October 8, 2012


Ajit Doval, Director Vivekananda International Foundation
In constant race against time and ever searching for new ideas to defeat ingenuity of their adversaries, for intelligence agencies to change is not an option but a compulsive necessity. Regrettably, those who change only when they have to, pay an un-affordably high price. Worse, it is often preceded by a nation bruised if not bled. Imaginative changes, innovation in tools of intelligence generation and analysis and constant up-gradation of capacities only can keep them a step ahead of their adversaries. The paper analyses the dynamics of change in the Indian context and some of the new realities that Indian intelligence need to factor in for designing its strategy for change.
Intelligence agencies, consciously or otherwise, pursue three discernable patterns of change. First is the evolutionary pattern. Accounting for most of the changes, these are slow, routine and continuing in nature.  They are mostly triggered by contemporaneous developments leading to resetting of priorities, leadership changes in organizational hierarchies and evolving pressures within the organizations to address professional, structural or administrative problems. Though mostly going un-noticed, these changes are vital as they keep intelligence agencies progressive, time consistent and forward looking through constant course correction and problem solving.  Most of these changes are effected within the organization and do not impact on working arrangements with other organs of the government or involve change in law or government’s Rules of Business. Though known to few, the score board of Indian Intelligence, particularly the Intelligence Bureau, on this count has been outstanding. Even in the absence of additional resources, new empowerments and living with security insensitive, if not illiterate, culture of governance, it has been able to bring about changes in real time to face new problems of insurgencies, terrorism, espionage, border intrusions, socio-political conflicts etc. even in remotest parts of the country. Decisional autonomy enjoyed by the Director Intelligence Bureau (DIB), his proximity to political leadership, a strong culture of loyalty and esprit de corps within the organization besides quality leadership at various levels have made this possible. However, the great contribution of evolutionary changes notwithstanding, it needs to be underlined that the phenomenon operates within a limited band-width and cannot address fundamental infirmities. It is unfit to bring about changes that have a long gestation period, involve high expenditure, require major technological or structural changes or have legal implications. It also cannot alter basic approaches towards security management of which intelligence is only one component, particularly in a ruckus democracy like India. One down side of such in-house innovations and improvisations is that it makes the governments complacent mistaking the success of fire fighting efforts as a solution to the cause of fire. Quite often, the fore warnings and ignored pleas for action to offset the impending threats in India go unaccounted and  unpunished, making systemic failures revisit with vengeance.
The second set of changes may be called ‘reformist’. They are triggered by some major reverses or failures forcing the governments, either on their own volition or under pressure of public opinion, to bring about fundamental changes. Changes following the attack on Pearl Harbor and post war emergence of Communist threat to the US, India’s 1962 Chinese debacle, post 9/11 threat of jehadi terrorism etc. fall in this category. Often the governments appoint inquiry commissions or experts committees to study the failures, analyze the causes and recommend reforms. Warren Commission on the assassination of President Kennedy, Senate Committee on the Watergate Scandal, Shah Commission on the role of intelligence during emergency in India etc. are illustrative. They examine not only the internal workings of the organization but also functional relativity with organizations and systems outside the intelligence community. Public committees serve a very useful purpose as they are able to examine and evaluate the functioning of intelligence agencies in the broader context of political environment, systems of governance and legalo-constitutional framework. However, at times, meant only to serve political purpose or silence mounting public criticism, these committees are less than objective and swayed by extra-professional considerations.  They also often get over influenced by populist perceptions of the causes and remedies which are not always correct. Consequently, their findings and recommendations do not always lead to improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of intelligence agencies. The Shah Commission’s findings and recommendations are a case in point. On the contrary, committees on reforms that are led by the professionals are able to come out with more specific, incisive and doable recommendations. The Shankar Nair Committee report, despite its limited mandate on intelligence reforms, came out with some highly commendable recommendations.
The third category comprise of changes that are brought about by intelligence agencies on their own or in conjunction with the larger security set up of the country envisioning futuristic threats and challenges. Transformational in character, they involve constructing future scenarios, assessing the environment in which intelligence agencies will have to operate and calculating gaps between existing capacities and these required to meet emerging threats.  This exercise necessitates intensive study of futuristic trends, their implications for national security, analyzing policy options and formulating strategy for change. Forecasting intelligence needs of the country, it should attempt to architect new doctrines, suggest structural changes, aim at optimization of resources and examine administrative  and legislative changes required for empowerment of intelligence agencies. While intelligence agencies in developed countries frequently attempt this exercise, the Indian intelligence has rarely made a conscious effort in this direction. One such exercise was carried out in the late eighties in the Intelligence Bureau on the initiative of Shri M. K. Narayanan, just before he was tipped to take over as the chief.
 At national level, the Report of the Group of Ministers on National Security in 2001, was the first macro level attempt in this direction. Though it came as an aftermath of Subramaniam Committee report on Kargil, it was an integrated futuristic attempt to restructure national security under four categories namely, defence, intelligence, internal security and border management. It came with some outstanding recommendations but unfortunately with the change in regime the momentum of change could not be sustained. One of the major recommendations, that was lost sight of, pertained to the review of the national security by a high powered Groups of Ministers every five years. If implemented, there would have been perspective action plans for intelligence and other reforms in 2006 and 2011. For this category of changes to be really effective, a political will is necessary, that requires serious and enthusiastic involvement of the senior political leadership of the country. Unfortunately, in India, national security is a low agenda item for the politicians except when the nation finds itself in the midst of a serious security crisis. Unfortunately, that is the most ineffective setting for change. In an ideal situation, the government should develop a long term bi-partisan consensus for these transformational changes.
It needs to be emphasized that both the evolutionary and reformist approaches to change though important by themselves are inadequate to meet threats of the future. These approaches to change are premised on the assumption that if shortcomings of the past were redressed the future would be safe. They allow us to analyse the causes of failure, examine existing systems and processes, and suggest their readjustment to prevent their recurrence. The broader legal, administrative and security frameworks are taken for granted; presuming that intelligence would be able to deliver the moon only through changes within – every time everywhere. Unfortunately, this is an erroneous premise. At best, they equip the country to win the war that is already over.
Reforms exclusively based on experience of the past suffer from another infirmity. It fails to factor in the innovations and transformations that the adversaries keep on bringing about in their capacities, resources, strategies, collaborative network, technology, equipment, targets, modus operandi etc. As former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, reflecting on the 21st century threats observed that the changes will have to be fast and constant to “defend against the unknown, the uncertain, the unseen and the unexpected”. These sets of changes though more valid in operational areas of intelligence generation like trade craft, surveillance, penetration, technology improvisation etc. also have relevance in tools of analysis.
Indian intelligence in next ten years should press into action an integrated strategy for change incorporating a judicious mix of all the three sets of changes namely evolutionary, reformist and transformational. In working out this strategy for change, in addition to its long conventional experience it may be necessary to factor in some new emerging realities.  Following are few such factors that may impact intelligence work in years ahead.
Indian Intelligence in times ahead will have to operate under greater public gaze, media scrutiny and accountability regimen. It will have to develop capability to operate in a translucent, if not transparent environment. One of the conventional strengths of the intelligence organizations have been their ability to operate in a relatively opaque and insulated environment. It was an accepted norm that in the larger security interests of the state and safety of its people, intelligence agencies be allowed to operate outside the public gaze. Even outside the government, there was a tacit acceptance of this reality and the media, courts, scholars and analysts etc.  implicitly respected this privilege and were careful not to draw them into public controversies or expose their activities that might undermine national or public interest. Criticism was mostly confined to intelligence production when it was felt that intelligence agencies failed to alert or forewarn the governments. Except the interested political groups who occasionally leveled charges of use of intelligence for political purposes, the intelligence processes by and large remained under a veil of secrecy. This provided the requisite deniability to the intelligence professionals even when they had no legal cover to carry out their secretive functions.
The voluntary restraint exercised was not so much to protect the intelligence agencies or the governments but more to deny undue advantage to the enemies of the state, who stood to gain by such exposures. Today, one of the main sources of intelligence for the terrorists, spies and saboteurs is media reports. They learn about the thinking and policies of the government, movements and plans of the security agencies, details about arrests of their gang members and  disclosures made by them, the people and places on the radar of intelligence agencies etc. through open sources. In addition, media provides wide and prominent coverage to violent groups and their depredations which enables them to get wide publicity and achieve the objective of terrorizing the people. It also enables them to discredit and demoralize the governments in power - the political objective of perpetrating  terrorist actions. The live coverage of Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack that was being monitored by mentors of the terrorist group in Karachi, and  who in turn were directing tactical movements of the terrorists, is a case in point.
In times ahead, this problem is going to get further deepened and accentuated.  Soft states with open democracies, like India, will find themselves particularly vulnerable. For political reasons, legal restraints or advisories to the media will neither be enforceable nor advisable. Frequency and intensity of front organizations supporting the cause of anti-national forces, masquerading as human right groups, to put pressure on the intelligence and security agencies will show a marked increase. Even, demands for inclusion of intelligence agencies, or at least part of their activities, covered under Right to Information Act may find political support.
Unlike in the past when it was not a tabooed subject, intelligence has entered the arena of public discourse.  We have to accept the reality as it is and not as we wish it to be. Not only the intelligence production -- which can be a legitimate matter of public concern -- but even the processes, structures and systems will increasingly come under public scrutiny. Demands for parliamentary oversight, intervention in internal administrative matters, resistance to legal empowerment, like in the case of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), etc. are indicative of the changing environment. It will be desirable for the Indian intelligence agencies to start revisiting their systems and making preparations for change compatible to the future realities without undermining vital national interest.
The Intelligence agencies should start deliberating on a public interface mechanism which, in the long run, may even include a media and public relation exercise. In the way Indian democracy is evolving, it will be in the national interest to educate the media and have working relation with it rather than allow it to go haywire for want of knowledge and authentic information. A well thought out action plan on this count may take two to three years before it is made operational.
Secondly, it will be desirable to have a group of experienced officers examine the entire working of the IB and R&AW and re-visit its security needs through VED-analysis. Through a calibrated strategy it can secure vital secrets that may impinge on national security while allowing controlled oversight by parliamentary or other bodies where it will not hurt the vitals. Besides changes in tradecraft doctrines and practices,  the changes will involve whole new regimen of security re-classification, change in documentation and filing systems, communications, maintenance of records, weeding out of files etc. Intelligence agencies should be able to bring about this change in next three to four years.
Technology will have to be another focus area for transformational change. This has two distinct dimensions in intelligence. First is neutralizing efforts of the adversaries to acquire and operationalise technologies to undermine our national security. The second, pertains to up-gradation and integration of state of art technologies by us to enhance our own defensive and offensive capacities.
The rate at which terrorists, spies, saboteurs and hostile intelligence agencies are acquiring new technologies pose a serious threat. These include a whole ambit of weapon systems, explosives, communication equipments, defeat systems against conventional intelligence tradecraft  etc. Recently, the use of social media for creating lawlessness and inciting people to violence has underlined scope of technology driven threats. Incessant efforts being made by the jehadi terrorists to acquire  radioactive explosive devices (dirty bombs) is a matter of serious concern. With the conditions of instability in Af-Pak region getting accentuated after 2014 drawdown, ideologically motivated Islamists taking charge of senior positions in Pakistan Army and intelligence setups, deepening collaborative linkages of ISI with home grown radical groups like Indian Mujahedeen in India the intelligence challenges will get compounded manifold. Terrorist groups are also fast acquiring capabilities of safe communication which will render the task of interception quite difficult. In the area of defence, fast technological up-gradation through heavy investments being made by hostile intelligence agencies like ISI of Pakistan, MSS of China etc. in electronic warfare, offensive cyber capabilities, space surveillance, maritime encirclement of India etc. will have to be factored in for developing counter capabilities.
Another aspect of technology in intelligence work relates to acquisition, improvisation and integration of new technologies. Though its necessity is disputed by none, the intricacies are understood by few. India’s strategic partnership with the US and greater security cooperation with the West notwithstanding, no developed country will share real state of the art intelligence technologies with India, particularly as a total system. Even where the second rung technologies are made available they are fraught with danger as the suppliers will insist on not transferring the codes or allowing us to change them without their involvement. Secrecy of our systems in this dispensation is seriously undermined. India will do well to take advantage of the offset clause in acquisition of defence equipment and use part of it for indigenous production of intelligence equipment. With India purchasing over $100 billion worth of defence equipments in the next seven to eight years, 30% of it under the offset clause provides us  a huge investment opportunity for this. Development of internal Research and Development capabilities are extremely expensive and time consuming. Unfortunately, even in areas where such initiatives were viable, we were not able to exploit them due to  paucity of funds and lack of futuristic vision in organizational leadership.  Coming up of the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) is a welcome move but its functioning so far does not inspire confidence. Its focus should be more on developing intelligence technological capabilities rather than getting involved in intelligence production for which it is least qualified.
Revolution in informatics and emerging cyber threats will constitute another area of challenge for security agencies. The task of handling massive open data emanating from diverse sources, both secret and classified, will make the task of analysis quite difficult. Deliberate efforts to use the information highways for disinformation, propaganda and subversion will compound the problem. Of late many youth in different parts of the world are being sucked into the vortex  of radicalism without any physical contact. Concurrently, terrorist and other anti-national forces are acquiring capabilities to wage cyber wars targeting critical infrastructure, intrusion in classified domains, damaging vital national data etc. The challenge is compounded by the fact that the perpetrators are able to operate from unknown destinations using inaccessible platforms, thousands of miles away from Indian soil.
Another futuristic challenge against which Indian intelligence will have to brace itself will be the capacity and resilience to cope with challenges of Covert Action (CA) and the Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW). The traditional use of military power to further a nation’s strategic, political or economic interests has been undergoing a change since the late eighties. This trend is going to further consolidate in times ahead.
With wars increasingly becoming cost-ineffective ventures of unpredictable consequences, Covert Action will increasingly be used as a new variant of ‘war through other means’ to achieve strategic and political objectives. Covert Action, is a deliberate state policy directed against the target state manifesting itself in various forms like engineering political instability, causing social disruption, retarding economic progress, accentuating disaffection and unrest in civil society and manipulating media. In violent forms, it includes promoting terrorism and insurgencies, political assassinations, social disruption, sabotage, subversion etc. It is a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission. Moral pretensions, and international laws notwithstanding, this option has been equally used by developed countries,  like USA in Afghanistan against the Soviets and poor countries like Pakistan against India in Kashmir, Punjab etc. Unfortunately, the doctrine of ‘protecting supreme national interests through all means’ has bypassed India; though it has been its worst victim with nearly 75,000 civilians and 10,000 security personnel killed as its consequence.
Conventionally, the causes, instrumentalities, resources and consequences of internal threats are domestic as against the external threats in which they are of external origin. However, in the new dispensation, internal security has become highly vulnerable to external manipulations. Hostile powers target it to achieve their politico-strategic objectives by internally bleeding the adversary, exploiting its internal faultlines. In Covert Action (CA) the planning, motivation, finances and often manpower is of the sponsoring country and so is the strategic objective it is aimed to achieve. Today, in India, while conventional internal threats involving violence are steadily on the decline, threats from externally sponsored covert action has gone up several notches. Though beleaguered for nearly two decades, India has failed to develop capabilities and a viable national response to the CA threats, both at the strategic and tactical levels. Response has been episodal with short memories, often with time consistency not lasting beyond the next election. CA is a threat against which Indian intelligence will have to develop capabilities both in defensive and offensive-defense modes. Their role will assume added importance since in this war intelligence agencies would be primary, if not the sole, players. Besides collection of intelligence, the new role will necessitate  proactive and interventionist operational actions requiring adequate legal empowerment. Seen in this perspective, opposition to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in India was ill-advised.
Thus both the internal and external adversaries will try to achieve their political objectives by coercing the government through internal violence and destabilisation.  This will increasingly take the world to what is known as Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), conflicts in which the civil society will play primordial  role. The subversive and violent groups disguise themselves as crusaders of disaffected or alienated sections of the society and indulge in violence and other unlawful activities. This will be a war against the invisible enemy hiding within the civil society, stunning to silence the majority through violence, fear and terror and making the governance impossible for its inability to protect them. Inability of the governments to protect their civil societies and redress their genuine grievances make them highly vulnerable to the mechanizations of hostile intelligence agencies.
The future pattern of conflicts would increasingly be more civil society centric. This fight against an invisible enemy, conceptualised as Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW), will aim at collapsing the enemy internally rather than physically destroying him through military might. As observed by William  Lind, “Distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.” In this nonlinear war against the invisible enemy there will no defined battle fields and the difference between civil and military targets would get obliterated. The disaffected and alienated sections of the society will be targeted by the enemies, both within and outside, to provide cause and the cover for subversive and violent actions. State security apparatus with high fire power, mobility, technology and logistic base will find themselves at a loss to fight this battle where there is no defined territory to be dominated and visible enemy to be destroyed. Propaganda, skillful use of media and information intervention may be extensively used by the adversaries to discredit and delegitimise lawfully established governments. Actions taken by the government to protect law abiding citizens or to enforce rule of law will be portrayed as persecution and oppression further eroding government’s legitimacy. American war in Vietnam and Soviet Union’s fight in Afghanistan are illustrative. Intelligence will be the primary instrumentality through which these wars would be fought. To fight these futuristic conflicts,  the intelligence agencies will have to build an extensive network of agents of information and influence among potentially vulnerable sections of the society. Psy-war capabilities integrating modern state-of-art technologies will have to be adopted. A US study paper on ‘The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation’ has rightly asserted that “Fourth generation adversaries will be adept at manipulating the media to alter domestic and world opinion to the point where skillful use of psychological operations will sometimes preclude the commitment of combat forces. Television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.” India with its social fault lines, economic inequalities and fragmented polity is highly vulnerable to civil society conflicts that can lead to instability. The external factor in the form of activities of hostile intelligence agencies, foreign NGOs with a political agenda, trans-border ideological influence of some radical or extremist groups etc. can exploit alienated groups to their advantage. Though these threats have existed for quite some time but with revolution in informatics, accessibility to new technologies and collaborative networking among anti-national forces these may become more extensive and acute in future.  Indian intelligence will have to develop new capabilities to meet these threats.
The challenges that  Indian intelligence is going to face in years ahead will be much more serious and complex. India’s emergence as a major power centre provides it an opportunity as also adds to its vulnerability. There is a need to work out a long term strategy for transformational changes on one hand and internal reforms on the other. Under a time bound programme a plan of action should be prepared and pressed into action with full earnestness.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tibetan Refugees in India

When in 1959, China forced Dalai Lama and more than 80,000 of his followers out of their peaceful abode in Tibet; the exiles must have believed that the world would stand by their just cause, and they would soon return home. They still believe in this but rest of the world is not so sanguine. From the early eighties to the mid-nineties, another 25,000 joined the exodus. The trickling of Tibetan refugees continues even today, albeit at a slower pace owing to the restrictions posed by the Chinese. These exiled Tibetans, most of them living in India for over half a century now, who had lived in isolation in the hallowed lands of the Himalayas, remain isolated still. In terms of their legal status, they are neither citizens of any country, nor refugees, illegal immigrants or stateless persons. When preamble of the Charter of the UN had envisaged to save “succeeding generations” from such privations, and reaffirmed its faith “in the dignity and worth of human persons”, the world had thought such human tragedies would never occur. More importantly, if it did, the world would not remain a silent spectator. Much has been written about Tibet’s rich history, culture, its mystic Lamaism, its militarization by China, agitations and self immolations but, not many have cared to know about the uprooted people of Tibet. The question of their survival, economic conditions, how they administer themselves and what do they think about their future remains less documented. Since India is home to more than 1,20,000 displaced Tibetans, it is a natural stakeholder in the restoration of peace and normalcy in Tibet, that could lead to their eventual return in dignity and honour. It is true that India did accept Tibet as an integral part of India in 1954. However, it needs to be emphasised that the decision was taken consequent to a 17- point agreement that China entered with Tibet in 1951, albeit under duress. Whatever little legal sanctity the Agreement had, became untenable with the ouster of Dalai Lama, one of the high contracting parties, and his subsequent repudiation of the Agreement. The repeated violation of the provisions of the Agreement by China, has further undermined its validity. The following commitments and violations by the Chinese are illustrative of this fact: a) The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall hold office as usual. b) The policy of freedom of religious belief laid down in the common programme of the CPPCC shall be carried out. The religious beliefs, customs and habits of the Tibetan people shall be respected, and Lama Monasteries shall be protected. The central authorities will not affect a change in the income of the monasteries. c) The spoken and written language and school education of Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step, in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet. d) In matters relating to various reforms in Tibet there will be no compulsion on the part of the central authorities. The local government of Tibet shall carry out reforms of its own accord, and, when people raise demands for reform, it shall be settled by means of consultation with the leaders of the Tibet. e) The PLA entering Tibet shall abide by all the above-mentioned policies and shall also be fair in all buying and selling, and shall not arbitrarily take a needle or thread from the people. Diaspora Since 1959, the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers who entered India have been living as exiles. During the first wave of the flight of Tibetans in 1959, termed by the 1961 UN General Assembly as an “exodus”, the Indian government had set up transit camps for these entrants and provided basic amenities like shelter, medical treatment and food. It was after the opening of Tibet to trade and tourism by China that the second wave of exodus to India began. There were approximately 25,000 Tibetans between the period 1986-1996 itself. A demographic survey conducted by a commission of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) had held that by 2009 total populace outside China had increased to 127,935 from 111, 020 in 1998. In countries other than India, their numbers approximately stood at 13,514 in Nepal, 1298 in Bhutan, 9000 in the US, 4275 in Canada and 4000 in Switzerland. Legal and Political Status It is ironic that India, which in six decades of its independence, had to cope with nearly 2 million refugees of various kinds (other than illegal immigration of over 20 million people from Bangladesh), has no laws or definitive policy to deal with refugees. Besides Tibet, there has been sizeable refugee problem from - East Pakistan (1971), Chakma influx (1963), Srilankan Tamilians (1983, 1989 and 1995), Afghanistan (1980 onwards), and Myanmar. The Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Registration of Foreigners Act (1939) provide the legal rubric to govern issues pertaining to the foreigners in India. Tibetan entrants fall under the ambit of these laws. As foreigners, they cannot own property, hold government jobs, exercise the right to vote or enjoy other privileges available to the Indian citizens. As, in India, there are no laws pertaining to the refugees, they are also not entitled to any privileges available to the refugees in most countries of the world. It is noteworthy that India is not a signatory to the UN Convention of July 28, 1951 on the status of Refugees, or the Jan. 31, 1967 UN Protocol. Interestingly, in 1953, India’s Foreign Ministry through RK Nehru had conveyed to the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees that the global refugee policy was essentially part of the Cold War strategy of the West and hence India wanted to keep itself out of it. Contrary to what is commonly perceived, India did not grant the Dalai Lama or other Tibetan entrants refugee status in India. They are foreigners, defined more by their cultural and ethnic rather than political identity, and granted temporary shelter in India. In this paper, the term refugees for Tibetans have been used in a generic, rather than legal sense. India has restricted its assistance to humanitarian support, scrupulously avoiding any overt or covert political support. The Dalai Lama was initially provided shelter in Mussoorie, a hill resort in UP and later, in 1960, relocated to McLeodganj, Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. To administer his people, he constituted the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) operating from Dharamshala, which continues to be his current headquarters. As with the passage of time, it became clear that the stay of the Tibetan exiles would be a long one, India helped initiate few programs to provide some means of sustenance to them. Thus, few settlements were created where the CTA relocated the refugees and sought to provide some basic jobs and facilities. To maintain a record of the Tibetans, the Indian government in consultation with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), issues Registration Certificates (RCs) to them. While RCs do not grant any formal legal status or rights to its holders, the Indian government allows only the RC holders to live in the designated settlements. These certificates also serve as documents of identity and have to be renewed periodically. Tibetans are also issued another document known as Identity Certificate(IC), which enables them to travel to countries that accept them in lieu of a passport. Presently, the countries that extend this facility include the United States, Switzerland and some in West Europe. For a Tibetan refugee possessing an IC to be able to re-enter India legally, the IC must bear a stamp that reads “No Objection to Return to India.” Recent policy changes have foreclosed other options for international travel, such as exit permits that were in vogue in the past. Only Special Entry Permits (SEPs) are being granted to the new entrants who are classified into three categories viz. pilgrimage, education and “other”. The pilgrimage SEP allows the bearer to stay in India for three months, with the possibility of an extension up to six months. They are, however ineligible to acquire an RC or any other Indian document. Tibetans entering India with an SEP for “education” purposes may, however, be allowed stay for a longer period. The category “other” is reserved mostly for special cases, like former political prisoners. On an average 3000-4500 Tibetans have been landing in India since the late 1990s. Most of them come as pilgrims via Nepal and return after their stay of 3-6 months. In very exceptional cases Tibetan refugees can acquire Indian citizenship in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Constitution, the Indian Citizenship Act and the Citizenship Rules 1956, as amended from time to time. In a historic judgment of the Delhi High Court in 2009 in the Namgyal Dolkar vs. Ministry of External Affairs, Tibetans born in India between January 26, 1950 and July 1, 1987, were made eligible for seeking Indian citizenship. The apparent consequence of this decision is that some 30,000 Tibetans in India, that is, those born in India within this specified time can enjoy what is often called right of citizenship through birth. The decision does not change the status of Tibetans who fled to India following the 1959 Lhasa Uprising, or those born in India to Tibetan parents on or after July 1, 1987. However, very few Tibetans have shown inclination to acquire Indian citizenship. Political Structure Tibetan exiles have a unique political structure wherein the Dalai Lama holds a pivotal position in all matters -political, spiritual, social and cultural. In spite of the overarching authority of Dalai Lama, political affairs are conducted through a well structured democratic process. Significantly, in July 2011 the Dalai Lama voluntarily surrendered his political power in favour of a newly elected Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), Lobsang Sangay. Even so, it has not diluted his position of pre-eminence and a leader of the Tibetan community. The daily affairs of the Tibetan refugees are administered by a Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) that has its headquarters in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. It lays claim to represent what it calls "Historic Tibet,” that includes the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai province, two Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures, Tibetan Autonomous County in Sichuan, Tibetan Autonomous County in Gansu and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. The Tibetan Parliament: It serves as the highest legislative body of the Tibetan refugees in exile comprising 44 members, directly elected by the people. The representation in the Tibetan parliament is very unique in that it is marked by an equal representation from all provinces and religious sub-sects. The parliamentarians are elected on the basis of their affiliation to the traditional three Tibetan provinces (Cholka Sum) of U-Tsang, Dotoe and Domey. Each province has 10 members in Parliament while the five religious sects viz. Sakya, Gelug, Bon, Nyingma and Kagyu have two members each. The remaining four members are elected from the Tibetans living in other countries. Two seats are reserved for women. The representation to religious sub-sects is an issue of debate in Tibetan politics. Other than the case for keeping mutually contesting religious leaders out of the political arena, it is argued that since monks and nuns can contest from their geographically delineated provincial constituencies, there was no need to make them doubly privileged by providing separate representation. A survey conducted in November 2011 by the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), brought out that out of 150 respondents 47% felt that representation to the monks was justified, while 51% were opposed to it and 2% had no views on the subject. In fact, some smaller sects like the Bodong and Jonang are critical of the practice as they do not find any representation in the parliament. Nevertheless, since the sub-sects play an important role in the Tibetan politics this practice has come to stay and their representatives have a significant role in political decision making. The major sub-sects and their current representatives in the 15th parliament are as under; Sakya Norbu Tsering and Choedak Gyatso Gelug Rongpo Lobsang Nyangdak and Atrug Tsetan Bon Geshe Monlam Tharchin and Geshe Namdak Tsukphue Nyingma Sonam Tenphel and Gyari Bhutruk Kagyu Karma Choephel and Tenpa Yarphel The Cabinet (Kashag): Kashag is the apex executive body comprising seven departments viz. religion and culture, education, health, home, finance, security and information and international relations. The Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) leads the Kashag and is the executive head of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Each department is headed by a Kalon (Minister). The CTA also has three autonomous bodies namely the Election Commission, the Public Service Commission and Controller of Accounts. The Election Commission conducts elections for the parliament and the local bodies. The Public Service Commission looks after the recruitment, training and appointment of the civil servants of the CTA. The Controller of Accounts is responsible for auditing the accounts of all the CTA departments and its subsidiaries. The CTA has its representative offices in 12 countries that practically function as their embassies. These offices are functioning in Geneva, New York, Tokyo, London, Kathmandu, Budapest, Moscow, Paris, Canberra, Pretoria, Taipei and Brussels. Over the years, strong democratic ethos have become entrenched within the exiled Tibetan community. The Dalai Lama, from the early days in India was a convert to the Indian democratic model, and was keen to inculcate and promote democratic traditions. Thus, in a calibrated manner, he surrendered his absolute authority and delegated it to the elected representatives. As a measure of reform, in 2001, the election for 12th Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), was held on the basis of direct voting that led to the victory of Samdong Rinpoche. During his term, the 12th Kashag (Parliament) considerably enhanced its power and greater accountability and transparency was brought in the functioning of the Tibetan parliament. This helped streamline parliamentary practices, financial transactions of the CTA were made public and the ministers were made accountable to the parliament. The significance of the Dalai Lama’s divesting of power in July 2011 and transferring it to the newly elected Kalon Tripa, created serious consternation within the Tibetan community. With his great emotional appeal, a majority of the Tibetans did not want him to abdicate political power. However, with the passage of time, this change was taken in its stride and the community accepted it. Commenting on the development, Thupten Samphel, the Information Secretary of the CTA averred, “the devolution of political power shows the fulfilment of the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a fully democratic and totally transparent system of administration. His Holiness felt the need for change within the administration by bringing new generations in the Administration.” The prominent Tibetan leader and Secretary of the Department of Education, Karma Gelek Yuthok, also echoed popular sentiment, “I did not believe it when he initially announced the resignation from political power, but it was only due to of my emotional attachment and faith in him that I accepted it. In the long term, he took this important decision through which he has covered hundred questions in one answer.” Clearly, the divestment of power by the Dalai Lama was a major political initiative aimed at opening opportunities for the common Tibetans to continue their struggle even beyond his life time. The changed political dispensation has provided them with a new sense of political equality and becoming equal stakeholders in their political struggle for liberation. Socio-economic conditions The Government of India accorded high priority to the resettlement and rehabilitation of exiled Tibetans who had sought refuge in India in 1959s. Prime Minister Nehru promised assistance to the refugees and sent letters to the Chief Ministers of States asking them to make available land to enable them to start a new life. The Government of Mysore (present Karnataka) was the first to grant a large forest area for the settlement of Tibetans. In the early 1960s the Tibetan refugees had with the help of local administration cleared the thick forests and developed unused land in Bylakuppe to build houses and commence agriculture. This settlement was later named ‘Lugsum Samdupling’, and became the model for subsequent settlements. The rationale behind establishment of separate settlements was to insulate them from the local populace and keep them away from meddling in local political affairs. Besides, it helped Tibetans to maintain their distinct identity, preserve their culture and traditions, and promote arts and craft. Since a vast majority of the refugees were farmers establishment of agricultural settlements was accorded high priority. There are presently 35 settlements classified into three categories viz. i) agricultural settlements (14), ii) handicraft based Centers (9) and iii) agro-industrial and cottage industries (12). The handicraft industry focuses on production of Tibetan artefacts, woollen garments, wood carving, etc. This provides a valuable secondary source of income to many refugees. The Tibetans are also engaged in small scale enterprises like operating restaurants, trading in hill produce, and construction work. The home-knitted woollen sweaters made by Tibetan women are very popular and can be seen being sold during winter months in most parts of India. Tibetan settlements are administered by the Gyapon who is appointed by the CTA. He is responsible for the development, administration and addressing local grievances of the people. He also manages community facilities like health and education in the settlements. In brief, the economic support provided by the Government of India in early years had served to meet their basic survival requirements. However, the income generating programmes initiated in subsequent years, combined with the hard labour, put in by the Tibetans improved their economic conditions. A study conducted in Dharamsala indicated that out of 10,900, settlers about 40% are engaged in small business selling artefacts, artificial ornaments, religious items and running food stalls. The first generation refugees are economically better off and own hotels, restaurants, personal shops and such like. Their children are better educated and engaged in the jobs provided by the CTA and some cultural organisations. Many from the younger generation have gone abroad and regularly remit money to their families that has improved their economic plight. The survey of refugees in Dharamsala indicated that 16% were engaged in business, 35% were working for the CTA, 25% were students, 9% were working for the NGOs, 13% were monks and nuns, and only 2% were unemployed. Since most of the refugees do not possess own homes, a substantial portion of their income (sometimes as high as 30%) goes towards house rent, and in many cases a small room is shared by 2 to 3 persons. Only about 10% people were found to be in higher income brackets, owning a own house, cars and sending children to private schools. The VIF survey indicated that by and large, there was no glaring disparity in the incomes. Only 3% each earned less than Rs. 5,000 or over Rs. 15,000 a month. The remaining 94% earned between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month; 41% Rs. 5,000-10,000, and 53% Rs. 10,000-15,000 per month. It is worth noting that in the wake on the prevailing price index in India, a majority of Tibetans are living just above the subsistence level. It was, however, found that there was no resentment amongst Tibetans over economic hardships or economic inequality. The CTA is able to provide adequate schooling and medical facilities to the refugees and they were found to be quite satisfied with the administration. The literacy rate among the Tibetan refugees has considerably risen through the decades and stands at 82% today. The CTA and the Government of India had accorded a high priority to education. Prime Minister Nehru had offered to the Dalai Lama reservation of seats for Tibetan children in Indian educational institutions in 1959. Dalai Lama, however, preferred to establish Tibetan institutions to preserve the culture and traditions which, on the hind sight, was a very wise decision as it helped the younger generation to preserve their distinct identity. The first Tibetan school was set up in Mussoorie in 1960, and they stand a strong 60 in number currently. Of them, 28 are run by the Central Tibetan School Administration (CTSA), which is an autonomous body of the Government of India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development; 12 schools are administered by Sambhota Tibetan School Administration (STSA), an autonomous body of the CTA’s Education Department. The remaining 20 schools are autonomous and funded and administered by 2 NGOs - the Tibetan Children’s Village and Tibetan Homes Foundation. All secondary and senior secondary Tibetan schools in India are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, which is the apex board for examination at an all India level. How do Tibetans exiles view their Future? A survey conducted by Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) in 2011 revealed some startling facts. Contrary to what most analysts would believe, they are neither over awed by China’s rising economic and military strength, nor pessimistic about their future. In a sample of about 300 respondents, 96% were confident that Tibet’s political situation will change and they will be able to return to their homeland. Only 3% felt that they had lost their political cause for ever, while 1% held no view. On the question of the possible future political status of Tibet, 60% felt genuine autonomy was an achievable objective. Only 40% were hopeful of complete independence. Significantly, a majority of the pro-independence respondents belonged to the younger age group. On the advisability and utility of holding talks with the present Chinese rulers, the opinions were sharply divided. While 40% felt that the process of engagement should continue, 59% felt that nothing worthwhile will be served by continuing the talks. Anger and resentment against the Chinese rulers for violation of human rights in Tibet was total, and the exiles asserted that the situation in Tibet had sharply deteriorated over the years. No one felt that as a result of the claimed economic and infrastructural development the conditions of Tibetans in Tibet have improved and they were a happier lot. The development of infrastructure like roads, railways, air fields, communication network were seen on the one hand as instruments of military subjugation and on the other, an attempt to destroy Tibet’s unique civilization, religion and identity. Concerns were also expressed over the ecological and environmental degradation of the world’s highest snow bound plateau; often referred as third arctic pole by the Tibetans. The perceptions of the Tibetan refugees on the prevailing situation in Tibet are based on accounts of new arrivals, mostly the Tibetans pilgrims. Limited news items emanating from the Chinese and global media is another source. Of late, the messages exchanged in cyber media are emerging as a powerful communication tool; despite Chinese making concerted efforts to counter it both through technical means and taking stringent action against anti-integrationists. The Chinese stridency has particularly increased after the 2008 Olympic Games and there have been large scale human rights violations; most of them. The frequent incidents of self-immolations seriously disturb the Tibetans and evoke sharp anger and resentment. The Tibetan refugees do not hold a very positive view of the world and their response to the Tibetan cause. Though they are careful and hesitant in articulating it openly. They believe that if world opinion had strongly pressurised China, it could have prevented persecution of Tibetans in Tibet, helped in achieving autonomy, and making the dialogue process initiated by Dalai Lama as success. Though generally supportive of Western democracies, particularly the US, for their understanding and sympathy to their cause, they think that politically not much has been done to mitigate their miseries. They are also beholden to some international NGOs for the moral and material support extended by them. Some of the senior Tibetan leaders feel that in the long term, democratic countries will have to stand up to the autocratic regimes in China and Tibet issue will get resurrected at that time. They also hold the view that internal power struggle in China will lead to far reaching political changes at some point as even the Han majority was getting increasingly restive under the present one party rule. Further, large sections of Chinese are getting inclined to freedom and democracy with an empathy and better understanding of the Tibetan cause, they contend. The perception of Tibetan exiles regarding India was found to be positive at religiso-civilisational level almost reverential – Providing shelter to them in 1959 and thereafter has earned their gratitude for India. Politically, there was an understanding that India had limited options vis-a-vis China and because of its own national security interests, it cannot go beyond a point. However, the younger Tibetans felt that India has failed to play the Tibet card to its best advantage. There was also resentment on the denial of democratic freedoms to Tibetans to peacefully agitate and organise protests against the Chinese repression. They considered India to be unjustifiably over cautious to Chinese sensitivities that the Chinese interpreted as sign of India’s weakness. The faith and loyalty of Tibetans, both in the institution of Dalai Lama and its present incumbent is absolute and unflinching. However, some hot headed youth occasionally argue that he is ‘too good and soft’. Cutting across the denominational and geographical divide, most of the Tibetans are highly appreciative of his long term vision and political judgement, international stature and acceptability, gentle persuasiveness and practical realism. They accredit him with providing political and spiritual leadership to Tibetans in difficult times and single handedly creating global awareness about the Tibet cause. The Dalai Lama’s divestment of power in favour of the Kalon Tripa is viewed pragmatically, enabling the Tibetan cause not to become co-terminus with his life span. With the realisation that it may be a long struggle, this act has transformed the Tibetan issue into a people’s movement and left it to the common Tibetans and their elected representatives to carry it forward. In Lobsang Sangay, the new Kalon Tripa, he has found a leader who is young, articulate, well educated with international linkages and acceptable to the younger generation. His leadership qualities inspire hope and confidence among struggling Tibetans. Finally, the numbers of Tibetans in exile may not be large but they can be powerful catalyst of a change in Tibet. 10.07.2012

India’s Internal and External Security: Areas that call for greater national attention

India’s Internal and External Security: Areas that call for greater national attention 4 July 2012 AJIT DOVAL, KC (Director, Vivekananda International Foundation and Former Director Intelligence Bureau) As India enters the global arena as a power of the future, its external and internal environment is in a state of flux. While it presents a plethora of challenges it also offers opportunities that can be exploited to its advantage. This would, however, entail exercising difficult policy options, its execution with unmitigated resolve and political leadership that can restore the fast eroding national will. While this holds good for the entire spectrum of our national life, where high degree of cynicism has crept in, it has critical import for the national security. For India, the external security environment is undergoing a paradigm shift. The accrual of Chinese potentially destabilizing military and economic power, proliferation of cyber, space, missile and nuclear threats in India’s neighbourhood, the US drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014, maritime rivalries in Indian Ocean, global economic meltdown and its security implications are few such realities. The uncertain future of Pakistan as a consequence of its political, economic, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, increasing radicalization of society, amassing nuclear weapons and missiles at the ‘fastest rate in the world’ are of serious concern to India. Simultaneously, the widening contours of International Terrorism, threats posed by Left Wing Extremism, insurgency in the North-East, social conflicts on communal and caste lines catalyzed by vote bank politics, and a volatile polity compound and vitiate the Indian internal security landscape. Misgovernance has also resulted in alienating large sections of civil society, raising questions about not merely the capacities but the intentions of the government. Starting from the top, corruption has become all pervasive with the sharp erosion of governmental institutions. On most vital security issues affecting India there is a lack of concrete policy formulation, high level policy direction and clarity on strategic issues. The civilisational substance of Indian nationhood, that provides raison d’être to its identity, is under an incessant onslaught by those very forces that ought to strengthen its roots and broadened its scope. The aim of this paper is to outline some pressing issues deserving focused attention on national security, without delving too deep into every aspect of security. Internal Security Internal security is viewed as the most vulnerable aspect of India’s national security and there is total unanimity among scholars on this count. Its import is borne out by the country’s long historical experience and if the current window of opportunity of emerging as an important power centre is missed, much of the blame will be a result of internal mismanagement and sloppy governance. On this very subject, the Kargil Committee Report (2000) and Report of the Group of Ministers on National Security (2001) had both underlined the criticality of internal security issues and recommended a sharp increase in national capacities on this aspect. In the conventional sense, threats whose causes, instrumentalities, resources and consequences are of domestic origin, are categorized as internal security threats. This no longer holds true in the changed security setting. Today, wars are increasingly becoming cost ineffective means of achieving political and strategic objectives, giving rise to a new genre of externally primed internal security threats. Threats which emanate from strategic calculations, detailed planning, motivation, finances and, quite often, human resources, conform to external origins. It is the consequence of these externally motivated acts that are translated into the domestic front into gruesome violence wrecking devastation. When target states appear vulnerable and incapable of retaliation to the enemy, even asymmetrically weak powers find opportunities and space to breach the security on domestic fault lines for strikes. This renders the task of providing preventive and protective security extremely difficult. The victim state has scarce opportunity to ensnare the real perpetrators, capability to degrade their capacities or even make them accountable to domestic laws. There is thus a clear operational disconnect between the available knowledge and information about hostile external forces, and the response options that can be exercised. India finds itself thick in this cauldron with the government unable and unwilling to act, and in denial mode in admittance of the existence of such a problem. It has neither been able to deter Pakistan by increasing the costs of such misadventures nor create sufficient diplomatic and political pressure to dissuade them. Meanwhile, Pakistan which harbors a compulsive hostility towards India and lacks capabilities to achieve its politico-strategic objectives through military or political means continues to engage in covert actions as an instrument of state policy to bleed India. The weak Indian response over the years has only emboldened and increased their hostility. The Pakistani strategy in covert actions is manifested in sabotage, subversion, espionage and Jehadi terrorism. This multipronged strategy of Intelligence encirclement through the Middle East, Nepal and other regions, using collaborative networks of crime syndicates, drug traffickers, currency counterfeiters, smugglers and targeting Indian Muslims in creating disaffection, has gone un-responded by India. Jehadi Terrorism The dangers that spring from the rise in Jehadi Wahabism and India being its prime target, is a serious security and ideological threat given the ground realities that (i) the Af-Pak region is the global epicenter of Jehadi terrorism, (ii) Pakistan consider terrorist groups to be ‘Strategic assets’ in their security calculus, (iii) India has over 3,000 kms long porous land border with Pakistan, and (iv) Indian Muslims have become the targets of ISI for subversive activities. Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism has cost India not just the loss of 1 lakh precious lives, but diversion of substantive resources in the last three decades. Strengthening of radical forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh have implications for India, particularly in the wake of concerted efforts by ISI to export Jehadi culture to India. There is no effort to offset the superimposition of this exported variant of Islam at the ideological, political and physical levels, despite appeals by senior and responsible Indian Muslim religious leaders to stem the impeding danger. It is creditable that Indian Muslims have so far desisted from this ideological onslaught. However, the overpowering Pakistani intelligence offensive, the domestic internal political environment, an irresponsible section of the media and the power of money are forces incessantly at play to undermine India’s security. Proliferation of the Wahabi/Salafi variant of Islam deriving financial and ideological support from Arab states has compounded the problem. With no laws in place it remains outside the purview of the law of the land and ideologically unchallenged as most Muslim Tanzims are afraid of taking them head on. The mushrooming of Salafi Madrasas and institutions, propagating hate, violence and exclusiveness, is significant in terms of long term security implications and its sinister nature. The massive financing by some Gulf-based Islamic outfits has enabled and empowered them to undermine the indigenous form of Indian Islam. Undeniably, an imaginative policy initiative and firm executive actions are crucial to counter this onslaught. It is noteworthy that in the last decade, besides J&K, over 2,500 Muslim youth from different parts of India have been trained and re-infiltrated by the ISI for subversive activities. Hundreds of Pakistani ISI modules operating in India’s hinterland have been unearthed, while many more continue to function with impunity. Additionally, large numbers of Pakistani youth trained by the ISI and disguised as Indian citizens, have been located in strategic positions and constitute sleeper cells, forming part of the ISI’s intricate network of covert apparatus. The ISI has also established anti-India espionage, subversive and saboteur networks in areas like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Middle East. This Intelligence encirclement of India facilitates the Pakistani strategy of a multi-pronged covert offensive. Collaborative networks with the underworld, gun runners, drug syndicates, currency counterfeiters, hawala operators, border smugglers etc. are being co-opted to enhance the ISI’s covert reach. The conventional Indian response is increasingly proving to be inadequate in the face of global reach, money power, political linkages, access to modern technology and ability to take advantage of India’s soft governance by the terrorist groups. Illegal Immigrants The demographic invasion from Bangladesh is a matter that has been deliberately neglected on political considerations. Over the years, it has assumed a serious security dimension. In many of the bordering districts it has brought about a total demographic transformation, forcing the original inhabitants to abandon their homes. Instead of abating, the past few years have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the inflow – with the new migrants becoming more emboldened and aggressive; considering their illegal immigration to be a matter of right. At the ground level, there are cases where vigil at the border has been scaled down several notches under pressure from Bangladesh government. The illegal immigrants, who now exceed 20 million, are no longer confined to the bordering states of Assam, West Bengal, and Meghalaya but now inhabit the rest of India as well; registering a sizeable presence in 16 states. They have been able to acquire identity documents- including electoral cards- with local political patronage, who consider these immigrants as captive vote banks. The earlier emigrees and local Muslims often facilitate their settlement and help them in procuring ration cards, identity documents, jobs and political support. In accordance with the new rules formed under the Foreigners Act, immediately after the IMDT Act was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2005 (with serious strictures against the Government of India), illegal migration has increased substantially. This measure has left the law enforcement agencies on the back-foot and there is scarce police action against the illegal migrants. This large diaspora not merely affects the demographic patterns but also puts strain on economic opportunities and civic amenities available to local people. The illegal habitations offer safe havens and shelter to the terrorists and fundamentalists entering India through Bangladesh. In North-East, the Islamic militant groups linked to extremist organizations within Bangladesh like Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Islami Oikya Jote, Jammat-e-Islami Bangladesh, have formed over a dozen militant outfits with a separatist Islamic agenda. Startling revelations made by the terrorist, Kari Salim and his associates, on their arrest were tabled before the State Assembly by the Assam Chief Minister. The alleged subversion of the youth, receiving training in Pakistan and stocking of weapons, among others, poses considerable security risks to India. The mentors of these groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh on tactical grounds have been advising the local groups not to strike until fully prepared and equipped, and the political environment was ripe for action. Meanwhile, the process of political consolidation on communal lines is ensuing, and the callous indifference of the state apparatus to this impending threat presents a grievous danger. These trends afflicting India’s internal security may not have immediate impact but have serious long term implications. Unfortunately, this threat does not constitute part of any serious security discourse, either at the State or the Central levels. The immediate and formidable problems of Left-Wing extremism, insurgency in the North-East, social and economic conflicts will undermine Indian democratic polity and negate its growth story. Though on the radar of the central and state governments, national security agencies, media and the public for long, the nation has not been able to formulate a sustainable long-term and coordinated policy in handling these threats. It certainly necessitates planned and focused attention by the government with an emphasis on capacity building rather than on perception management. These forms of conventional threats can be addressed through the strengthening of state police forces and its intelligence units. The centre should strive to bolster the capacities of the states through intelligence support, strategic guidelines, coordination mechanism, training, equipment and financial help. The states on their part need to streamline police administration, fill the existing vacant posts, implement police reforms as mandated by the Supreme Court, and ensure political interference in law enforcement abates. Another issue deserving higher priority is the maintenance of vigil over the long and treacherous border stretching to nearly 15,000 kilometers, more than 80% of which is with those countries with whom India has security related problems. Increasing vulnerabilities of the maritime coastline, both in relation to internal and external threats compels the augmenting of vigil and intelligence penetration along our 7,000 km. long coastline. The long overdue maritime commission and Coast Guard reforms must figure high in the impending security reforms to be undertaken. The common and routine bureaucratic responses to internal security threats, like accretion of force levels, upgradation in weapons and equipments, strengthening the protective cover for targeted entities may be important, but rather inadequate. It helps reduce the threat levels to some extent and leads to target hardening, but cannot either alter the intentions or degrade the capabilities of hostile forces. It would require an integrated and imaginative long-term internal security policy with an assessment of India’s futuristic security requirements. Besides external mechanizations, the policy will have to factor in geographic size and population, long stretches of borders and coastlines, social fault lines, pressures of the youth craving for better opportunities, and alienation caused by economic depravation and disparity. There is also a need to be alive to the activities of globally networked crime syndicates, drug traffickers, currency counterfeiters, money launders and groups who create social alienation and conflicts by indulging in acts of religious conversion in tribal and poor areas through inducement, threat and propaganda. The externally-primed terrorist and other violent groups have to be dealt with an imaginative matrix including diplomacy, strengthening of internal security forces, effective domestic laws and improved intelligence. There is also a need to enhance covert intelligence capabilities to degrade the capacities of the adversaries and force them to change their intentions. Intelligence-led smart operations are like heat seeking missiles; chasing targets till the threat is destroyed. Precise and real-time intelligence is a high-potency, low cost force-multiplier and a mere handful of skilled professionals can achieve what entire brigades and battalions cannot. Therefore, it is imperative in the face of such challenges to bolster intelligence capabilities both internal and external, to effectively influence the course of events impinging on national security. External Security: The end of the Cold War catapulted the US to a position of the sole superpower but this unipolar world order seems to be heading for a short shelf life. The excessive engagement of the US with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global economic meltdown, dwindling control of the US on Europe is denting the American influence. The concurrent rise of China, emerging as a major economic power with large investible surpluses to enhance its strategic power, has further undermined US position which it did little to prevent in last two decades. The emergence of China as a major power touted to overtake economically the US by 2020, or even before, is a major game changer. It assumes greater import in the face of Chinese acquisition of military and technological capabilities disproportionate to its legitimate security interests. China’s rise has major security implications for India as it has a long disputed border with China, fought a war that it lost leading to loss of territory and its special military relationship with Pakistan. Since India is primarily a regional power its security concerns mainly centre on its immediate and extended neighbourhood flanked by nuclear China and Pakistan. India will need to induct a calibrated policy of engagement, containment and hedging in dealing with the threats emanating from these two counties. In attempting to avoid conflict, it is also necessary for India to possess a credible deterrent which essentially entails modernization of its defence forces, autarky in defence production, a technological edge over the adversaries and a favorable political and diplomatic environment. Its sustaining a growth rate around 8% at least for next ten years, would be crucial to achieve these objectives. India maintains an edge over China in terms of a younger population, a stable democratic polity and greater international acceptability to its ascent in global polity as unthreatening. All this can be leveraged to optimum advantage only if India is able to maintain the rule of law, ensure sustainable and equitable economic growth and provide corruption-free governance; one that is responsive, delivers in real time and not mired in the bureaucratic labyrinth. The rise of China poses significant and far reaching challenges to India, notwithstanding the rhetoric of peace and good neighbourly relations. These can be discerned from three factors namely, (i) sustained militarization of the bordering Tibet region and military assertions in the border areas by China; (ii) Strategic nexus with Pakistan, particularly in the area of nuclear and missile programmes and, (iii) Increasing footprints in the Indian Ocean region, especially collaborations with the littoral states bordering India. On the issue of Chinese development of infrastructure on the Indo-Tibet border the high altitude railway line in Tibet has been operational for about five years. This railway line is supplemented by new air bases, and helps enhance the mobilization of capabilities by concentrating large bodies of troops in areas bordering India in short spans of time. A 2012 Pentagon report revealed that China has moved its new advanced longer range CSS-5 missiles close to the border with India in addition to developing contingency plans to shift airborne forces at short notice to the region. The US Department of Defense annual report also corroborates this point and notes, ‘to improve regional differences, the PLA has replaced older liquid fuelled, nuclear capable CSS-3 intermediate range missiles with more advanced and survivable fuelled CSS-5 MRBMs’. The Military Balance published in 2012 by a UK based think-tank observed that China's increased military expenditure, by 11% this year and 12.7% last year, is matched by its growing assertiveness in pressing territorial claims. On the other hand, India struggles even to fully utilize allocated funds because of corruption, bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in procurement. The former Chief of Army Staff of India, Gen. V.K. Singh held a similar view when he cautioned that the war-waging capability of the army has been hamstrung by long delays in decision making. Apart from expressing his own concern at the recent summit, the Defence Minister of India has expressed concern over China's high and opaque defence spending which touched $106 billion this year, A suitable framework of response India has to clearly conceptualize what would constitutes a satisfactory military preparedness policy for India. In precise terms it should include: i. Capability for a full scale 90 days full spectrum war? ii. Capacity for a two-front engagement to achieve the military objective of “defeating Pakistan" and "holding China”? iii. Modernisation in weapons and equipments with a mix ratio of 30% state-of-the-art, 40% prevailing and 30% dated technologies? iv. Restore India’s conventional superiority over Pakistan? v. Minimize dependence on foreign critical defence equipment including spare parts? Currently, India’s dependence on combat related equipment is as high as 70%. vi. Optimum defence infrastructure along the Chinese border that would help ensure higher intra-theatre mobility, capacity to move to heavy weapons, troops and supplies to forward areas, facilities for troops to recuperate and acclimatize etc? vii. Building capacities to counter China’s cyber offensive. India vs. China: Comparsion of Defence Hardware Particulars India China Armed Forces 1,325,000 2,285,000 Estimated Reservists 11,155,000 5,10,000 Paramilitary 1,301,000 6,60,000 Battle Tanks 568 2,800 Attack helicopters 20 16 Submarines 15 60 Fourth-generation Tactical Aircrafts 280 747 Fighter/ground attack Aircraft 784 1,669 Inter-continental Ballistic Missile Launchers 0 66 Airborne Early-warning and control aircraft 2 14 Modern Armoured infantry Fighting Vehicles 1,105 2,390 Aircraft Carrier 1 1 Cruisers/Destroyers 10 13 Frigates 11 65 Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Military Balance, Spring 2012 Defence Production India had inherited a rudimentary defence production infrastructure from the British at the time of independence. The indigenous industrial activity was confined to the lowest spectrum of defence production comprising mainly of repair and overhaul facilities of imported weapon systems. In the post 1962 phase, India’s doctrine of self sufficiency in defence items, other than indigenous production, which practically meant having reliable foreign sources for acquisition of weapons systems, access to technologies and un-interrupted supply of spares and components. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was a major supplier of defence equipment to India and its share remains 70% till today. The USSR had agreed to supply weapons systems, including MIG-21 aircrafts as well as a licensed production arrangement which helped India usher into an era of licensed production. This arrangement, had although served India well for two decades but, after breakup of the USSR and changing profile of India’s defence requirements, no longer addressed Indian requirements adequately. A significant major policy shift was brought about in May 2001 when the Government allowed participation of private sector in defence production. Under the guidelines issued a 100% investment by private sector would be permissible in designated areas, and 26% would be through foreign direct investment. Earlier in 2010, the government’s Defence Production Policy emphasized achieving self reliance in designing, development and production of weapon systems/platforms and equipment. With the objective of achieving greater synergy in production of high-end products it encouraged the formation of consortia, joint ventures and a public-private partnership. Greater integration between technical and scientific research and production was also envisaged. However, while the policy objectives laid down were commendable, at the level of implementation not much has changed and most of the ideas remain unexecuted. The overall scale of indecisiveness, absence of high direction, gaps in planning of resources and weak executive skills of the UPA-II government have cost India in terms of defence preparedness. In a current transformed global environment, India is at an advantages with the availability of investible capital, accessibility to earlier denied dual technologies, willingness for cooperation and collaboration by defence production giants in its repertoire. India boasts of a world class defence-scientific community, at least in some advanced fields and a pool of skilled manpower with long years of experience and knowledge relating to defence industries. Politically, there is a bi-partisan consensus that India should reduce its dependability on imported weapon systems as far as possible. The changing global and regional strategic landscape, China’s aggressive posturing with heavy investments in defence, estimated to be over $132 billion a year, and fast expansion of its defence production and R&D, leave India with no option but to bring about both a qualitative and quantitative transformation in its defence production. However, infirmities ranging from political indecisions, vested interests of the corrupt, external pressures and illiteracy of the bureaucracy on security issues nullify the advantages to a considerable extent. A powerful lobby exists within India, supported by an even more powerful and cash-rich network of arms manufacturers and their frontmen, interested in stymieing indigenous defence production. Spurious arguments and distorted facts are advanced in a sustained and systematic manner to create doubts and suspicious that, at times, influences even the leadership of the armed forces. Denigrating the capabilities of Indian scientists, DRDO and DPSUs form part of this campaign. With India’s estimated expenditure of $100 billion on defence acquisitions over the next decade, they see a great commercial opportunity in the offing; provided India does not build its indigenous capacities of course! It is apparent and urgent for India to strengthen and streamline the complex regimen of defence production and research comprising of its 39 Ordnance Factories, 8 Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), 50 laboratories under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), host of research units working in ordnance factories/DPSUs and widely dispersed private sector players. Some of the bigger private sector outfits like Larsen and Toubro, Mahindra Defence Systems, Pipavav Shipyard and Tata Advanced Systems Limited have professed an enthusiasm to work with the government, and contribute thereby in augmenting India’s defence preparedness. They are also willing to upgrade their manufacturing facilities and undertake research and development work, provided they are assured of sustained orders, sharing of R&D costs and international marketing opportunities. There is also a new enthusiasm in India’s public sector enterprises to change, modernize and become quality competitive. By cutting across the barriers of public and private sectors, the Indian Defence Ministry can perhaps take a leaf from the experience of ISRO that has successfully outsourced components, hardware and sub-systems for its launch vehicles and satellites from Indian industrial units, both from the private and public sectors. Undoubtedly, a clear vision, policy convergence, expedient decision making, de-bureaucratization of defence production and technology development can raise India’s defence preparedness manifold. India can ill afford to ignore this vital area of national security any longer. Gaps in Indian defence Preparedness (A) ARMY Artillery as was proven during the Kargil conflict, is a key battle winning factor. Over a decade ago, the Indian Army had drawn up a plan to modernise 80 % of the Artillery Regiments of the Indian Army. If it had been implemented, it would have reduced the large number of diverse calibers in use with the Artillery( 75/24, 105 millimeter, 122 millimeter, 130 millimeter, 155 millimeter) and brought about standardization at 155 millimeter caliber. However, this has yet to operationalise and consequently, modernisation is irrevocably delayed. Though tenders were floated, the pace of procurement due to bureaucratic delays and systemic deficiencies has been slow and may take another 5 years for induction. The last major acquisition of guns in India were 400 items of Bofors (39 caliber 155 millimeter FH-77 B) from Sweden in 1984. Armour: The Armoured Corps still holds in its inventory some regiments of vintage tanks like T-55. There is an urgent need to induct 347xT-90s contracted for in Dec 2007.There is an even more urgent need to remove Night Blindness of the tank fleet. Only 310 of T-90 tanks have proper night vision/fire control equipment. Presently, 70% of the tank fleet is Night Blind. In this context, it is worth mentioning that during Gulf War I, the Russian T-72 tanks were well matched with the American Abram tanks in day-time combat. However, the image intensification equipment with the US tanks made the critical difference at night. It was able to read the Russian tanks of the Iraqis at ranges of over 1000 meters, whereas the Russian tanks with their infrared devices could only see up to 300 meters, which proved to be disastrous. It is significant to note that Pakistan has upgraded the night vision capabilities of its entire tank fleet. Since most future combats will occur at night, there is an indelible urgency to step up the up-gradation of the T-72 MI, Ajeya Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), by fitting new generation night sights and fire control equipment. In addition, the tank fleet is short of critical ammunition. In fact, the Army Chief in his letter to the Prime Minister dated March 12, 2012 had observed that the Army’s entire tank fleet is “devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks”. He further added that there were “large scale voids “in critical surveillance and night fighting capabilities. This is particularly critical in the mechanised forces.” Air Defence (AD) Artillery: This aspect in India’s defence preparedness faces serious problems of obsolescence with an urgency to replace the L-70 (40 millimeter AD Gun System) and Schilka (ZSU-23-4 Schilka SP), as well as Surface to Air Missiles like SAM-6 and OSA AK. Referring to the inadequacies in Air Defence, the Army Chief in his letter to the PM had stated that “97% is obsolete and it does not give the deemed confidence to protect.” Infantry: For conventional engagements, the role of infantry still remains crucial. The Indian Army immediately requires new Sten Machine Carbines, better grenades, more +Hand Held Thermal Imagers and Battle Field Surveillance Radars (BFSRS). The Army Chief in his letter of March 12, 2012 had stressed that the infantry was crippled with “deficiencies of crew served weapon” and lacks “night fighting” capabilities. Special Forces are going to play a very vital role in all future military engagements. Despite its accepted high importance, very little has been done to upgrade their capabilities. Army Aviation: Replacement of observation Helicopter fleet of Cheetas and Chetaks of outdated technologies with more modern and better equipped Helicopters is necessary especially since Pakistan has substantially improved its fleet of helicopters. Equipment of Corps of Engineers and Corps of Signals needs urgent upgradation. (B) NAVY India’s unique geostrategic location lends its extensive maritime security interests a certain amount of vulnerability. To secure its sea lanes and oceanic routes, protect its 7000 kms long coastline, and 2.3 Mn. Sq Kms. of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), it requires a very powerful Navy. The need for naval superiority has become all the more pressing due to China’s ambitious naval expansion and modernization programme apart from known plans to exert its dominance in the Indian Ocean Region. The pearl of strings in India’s maritime neighbourhood starting from Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Pakistan (Gwadar), Myanmar (Swite), Bangladesh (Chittagong) and creation of a base in Seychelles, are a clear indication of its long term intentions. The following are gaps in India’s naval capabilities that require shortfalls in our Naval capabilities requiring urgent attention. i. Indian Navy, requires 3 aircraft carriers with supporting fleets submarines and air assets. Presently, it has only one aging carrier. Induction of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (Gorshkov) has been delayed by 4 years and may not be available before 2013. ii. The submarine arm strength is eroding due to slow pace of acquisition. The country needs minimum of 30 submarines while presently we have only 8 operational submarines. iii. An aging combat fleet of naval aviation requires urgent modernization. The country needs minimum of 45 integral fighter aircrafts, 17 long range maritime reconnaissance planes and 20 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) heavy helicopters. iv. Conventional sources of procuring naval systems and assets, over a period of time have ceased to be technologically potent, operationally effective and involve prohibitive cost of maintenance. New sources of procurement need to be identified and the diversification process should be expedited. (C) AIR FORCE: The Chinese Air Force is fast reaching qualitative parity and enjoys a major numerical advantage vis-à-vis India. By 2020, it is projected to possess 2,300 combat aircrafts as against India’s 750 combat aircrafts. The induction of Tejas – an indigenously built Low Combat Aircraft (LCA) with huge cost and time over runs (initiated in 1983) – has been inordinately delayed. In fact, the multi-role combat aircrafts (MRCAs) will take another 5 years for induction while the MIG -21, MIG 23 and MIG-27 fleets have long become obsolete. The squadron strength is getting eroded. Conclusion India’s geostrategic position accentuates its strategic vulnerability even as it provides openings for playing a more dominant and proactive role in the region. To optimize its advantages, it requires a continuing reinforcement of several elements of its state power viz. economic, military, technological and diplomatic leverage. A credible military deterrent and capabilities to inflict unaffordable losses on adversaries will be critical. The fact that India has the world’s fourth largest fighting force, does not automatically translate into its having capabilities to adequately deter, defeat and degrade external enemies or tackle externally primed violent groups that threaten internal security. It remains dependent on foreign sources for meeting its defence requirements and as the analyst Brahma Chellaney avers, India “invests bulk of its defence modernisation resources not on strengthening its own armament base or deterrent capabilities but on subsidizing the military industry complex of others.” India’s national security lies in harnessing its own strength and being wary of the interplay of internal and external threats to it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Working in real time

Working in real time

February 12, 2012
Hindustan Times

Will the long-awaited National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which will come into existence on March 1, make a difference? Most commentators feel it won’t. They say it is nothing more than affixing a fanciful American label that had fascinated home minister P Chidambaram on the decade-old
Multi-Agency Centre (MAC). They also wonder why it took him three years to set it up.
It is true that the NCTC will not be what the minister declared it would be when he addressed Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers on December 23, 2009. At that meeting, he had described it as an outfit capable of “preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place, and responding to a terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators”. It is also true that in terms of its charter, authority, empowerment and resources, it cannot match its American namesake. However, it is certainly an improvement over what exists now. While the Indian centre has little in common with its US counterpart, their underlying doctrines have much in common. Of course, on matters of detail we have grossly missed out and the devil lies in the detail.
The MAC was created following the recommendations of the Group of Ministers, which was set up by the NDA in 2001 to suggest comprehensive reforms in India’s national security apparatus.
The outfit, headed by a part-time additional director in the IB, maintained a databank of terrorists and their collaborators, terrorist organisations, details of terrorist violence including their modus operandi, tactics, communication links, weapons and equipment used etc. The outfit had representatives from all central intelligence agencies, defence forces and central police organisations who were both contributors and beneficiaries of the all-source databank.
They met regularly to exchange and evaluate intelligence inputs, assess impending threats and worked out possible responses. The sharing of intelligence with MAC was, however, informal and unstructured, often leaving gaping holes. MAC did not collect intelligence or carry out intelligence operations. The NCTC, however, will be an integrated platform that will collect, evaluate and analyse intelligence, maintain a databank and coordinate counter-terrorist operations. Headed by a full time director, the NCTC will make sharing of intelligence and follow up operations efficient, faster and better coordinated.
The IB, despite being the nodal agency for counter terrorism, as a secret organisation was handicapped in several ways and had to play the role of an invisible hand ensuring that it did not cross the red lines. Their support in terms of providing intelligence, working out plans for physical action, covert operational and technical support etc was all informal. Often, operational intelligence and follow up plans, painstakingly developed at grave personal risks, were lost due to lack of professional expertise, sense of urgency, training, equipment, and even motivation of the local police. The IB could not intervene beyond a point. The NCTC, with powers accruing to it under section 43A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, to arrest anybody having a ‘design to commit’ or ‘having committed’ any act of terror, will be able to take preventive and proactive actions in real time on its own. Importantly, the law makes reliable intelligence “from personal knowledge or information given by any person” as the basis for undertaking such operations. The empowerment under UAPA should enable the NCTC to search and seize any ‘building’, ‘conveyance’ or ‘place’ that is suspected to have terrorist links and this will further enhance its effectiveness.
Further, the NCTC will have the powers to requisition the services of the NSG or any other special force for undertaking counter-terrorist operations. In effect, it means that should the NCTC have reliable intelligence, it can under its own empowerment, co-opt central forces to complement the local police and make up for their deficiencies in trained manpower, equipment, logistics etc.
Taking advantage of its nationwide jurisdiction, the information gathered by the NCTC during search operations or initial questioning of the suspects, can be used to mount supplementary operations in any part of the country taking help of the local police to meet legal requirements. It will set in motion the chain of counter-terrorist actions in real time. This is distinct from situations in the past when many opportunities were lost due to legal-jurisdictional problems, hassles in priming up police forces which were out of the loop, delays in tying up logistics etc. The best operational intelligence is obtained within two to three hours of a successful operation when terrorists are questioned, documents are recovered and mobile phones are seized. However, the shelf-life of all these is just a few hours before the information is flashed by the media. The NCTC will be able to substantially cover this gap.
The fears expressed in some quarters that the head of NCTC, being a relatively junior officer, will be unable to deliver are unfounded. The NCTC will have all the clout that it needs because the IB chief, the senior-most police officer, under whom the NCTC head will work, will be able intervene whenever required. However, in order to maximise the advantages of having a counter-terrorism centre of this kind, the government must opt for a dynamic and relatively young additional director who is poised for higher future responsibilities.
Notwithstanding the gaps, the NCTC has much to offer. Over a period of time, it will be necessary to empower it more. It must acquire statutory status through an act of Parliament. The home ministry should look for officers with professional competence and motivation to man the organisation. The counter-terrorist units of the states should be re-organised on the pattern of the NCTC to bring about uniformity and seamless integration in national counter-terrorism efforts. Needless to say, the Centre must bear the costs. But eventually much will have to be done by the NCTC and this includes enhancing its intelligence capabilities, injecting speed and surprise in its operations and establishing an R&D unit and upgrading the use of technology.
Ajit Doval is director, Vivekananda International Foundation
The views expressed by the author are personal