India has 15,106.7 km of land border and a coastline of 7,516.6 km including island territories. Securing the country’s borders against interests hostile to the country and putting in place systems that are able to interdict such elements while facilitating legitimate trade and commerce are among the principal objectives of border management. The proper management of borders, which is vitally important for national security, presents many challenges and includes coordination and concerted action by administrative, diplomatic, security, intelligence, legal, regulatory and economic agencies of the country to secure the frontiers and subserve its best interests.
While Border Security Approach deals only with defending the borders, the Border management is a broader term which involves not only defending the borders but also the protections of interests of the country on aligning borders.
The Department of Border Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs focuses on management of the international land & coastal borders, strengthening of border policing & guarding, creation of infrastructure such as roads, fencing & flood lighting of the borders and implementation of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP).
Some problems currently afflicting the management of our borders including maritime boundaries are:
- Hostile elements have access to latest technology, unprecedented use of money power, organisational strength, maneuverability, wide choice available for selecting theatre of action for surprise strikes and strategic alliances with other like-minded groups.
- No proper demarcation of maritime and land borders at many places leading to conflicts.
- Artificial boundaries having difficult terrains like deserts, swampy marshes etc. which are not based on natural features thus making them extremely porous and easy to infiltrate.
- Multiplicity of forces on the same borders leading to problems of coordination, command and control.
- Border Guarding Forces like Border Security Force etc. lack infrastructure. They need to be appropriately strengthened both in terms of equipment and manpower.
- Problems faced by local people due to tough measures taken during anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations generate discontent which should be addressed prudently otherwise hostile elements try to leverage this discontent to their benefit.
- Cross-border terrorism targeted to destabilise India
- Illegal migration in eastern region causing socio-economic stress as well as demographic changes
- Sporadic aggression on China border
- Cross border safe houses for insurgent in north eastern neighbours
- Smuggling of arms and explosives, narcotics and counterfeit currency
- Enhanced instances of smuggling, piracy, breach of coastal security
In light of above stated problems, there is need of utmost vigilance on the borders and strengthening the border guarding forces. However, it should also be taken care that the security of borders does not impede cross-border interactions and is beneficial to mutual economic and cultural relationship. A detailed discussion on border management with