Assess the intensity and spread of terrorism in the world. Highlighting the challenges India faces, discuss India’s counter-terror strategy. (250 W/ 15 M)

Mentors Comment:

Question demands three different sets of aspects of terrorism. The first part will deal with global scene of terrorism in terms of its reach and how intense it has become. Focus on the recent trends and regions affected by it like advent of ISIS on the global scene and its impact on middle east, asia, europe and USA and its idea of lone wolf attacks; resurgence of Taliban as a force in Afghanistan; organisations like Boko Haram, Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups.

The second part will highlight the challenges that terrorism has posed for India. While it has been facing terrorism from its western borders, it has also been dealing with insurgencies in its eastern sectors with attacks on security forces and civilians. ISIS has been a new challenge for India with few of our citizens joining the forces. At the same time, the security of Indians and assets based abroad is of paramount importance given the threat global terror has posed on foreign lands.

The last part will deal with strategy that India has formulated to counter terror. Mention various apparatus like specialised agencies, laws, security forces and investigative authorities that India has set up for this very specific purpose. Also important are the social aspects of this counter terror strategy like de-radicalising of citizens who have left terrorism, educating and employing hitherto marginalised sections of the society, maintaining unity and integrity of the society and pursuing secularism etc.

Before ending the answer, do mention few challenges in this strategy and what are the solutions that can make Indian counter terror strategy better.

 

Model Answer:

Terrorism is something all over the world is a major problem at the moment. Its effects are very much that it can damage a country’s economy and can cause rifts between the countries, societies, religions and cultures. Terrorists were not born but they were made in the name of religion, region, ethnicity and culture. In the 21st century world, terrorism has become a bigger problem and has gained wider coverage in terms of areas affected by them.

Terrorism on global scale and its intensity and spread:

  • Terrorism is in different forms in various countries and continents.
  • Most of the terrorist organisations right now are born out of particular configurations of geopolitics and superpower interventions and invasions.
  • In the global scene today, the number and variety of terror groups is larger and more widespread than at any time previously.
  • Ideology remains the main source of violent extremism. When intertwined with religious extremism, it becomes an even more potent mixture.
  • Internationally terrorism today is marked by a large number of transnational terrorist groups.
  • In the years following the World Trade Centre attacks on 9 September 2001 al-Qaeda was at the forefront of debates on terrorism.
  • The Taliban in Afghanistan still remains a key actor.
  • The intensity of terrorism has gone down in countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal but has grown tremendously in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East regions and a large part of African continent.
  • In the past couple of years, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the heightened activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan, the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the Hostage crisis in Sydney Australia- have raised the spectre of terrorism and kindled debates on terrorism motivated by religion, the issue of freedom of expression and global efforts in combating terrorism.

Challenges for India:

  • India has been fighting terrorism in all its manifestations for a number of decades.
  • However, over a period of time, the focus has shifted from home grown insurgents to terrorists sponsored, abetted and financed by Pakistan.
  • This shift in the source of terror is also reflected in the country’s strategy.
  • From a stage wherein, insurgent leaders joined the mainstream and became Chief Ministers of States like Mizoram, to the LeT, the nature of threat has completely transformed.
  • The rise of ISIS also has raised the issue of radicalization with few Indian citizens coming under the influence of the terror group’s propaganda.
  • ISIS threatens India’s interests in the region that involves energy security as well as the welfare of Indian citizens in the region.
  • While this reality was evident before 26/11, however, it became all the more apparent thereafter, and forced policy makers to take more resolute and stringent steps to counter the threat.

India’s counter-terror strategy:

  • IB, RAW and Multi Agency Centres (MAC) are involved in gathering intelligence.
  • MAC collate intelligence information from different sources and disseminate them.
  • Counter terror operations are carried out by NSG and local police.
  • The local police which act at the ground and is many a times first respondent.
  • Other agencies like Army and special elite forces are also involved as and when required in aid of the civilian force.
  • Investigation and prosecution is done by NIA which draws its power from Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
  • Another initiative has been the targeting of terrorism finance, which has received an impetus with both the UAPA and Anti Money Laundering legislations becoming more effective.
  • A long-term step has also been to address the alienation of certain sections of the population through better integration, concessions, and targeting of hardline propaganda machinery, both from within and outside the country.
  • On diplomatic front, India has been pushing Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) since 1996 in UN.
  • The proposed convention is intended to provide umbrella cover for situations not addressed by the existing sectoral conventions on terrorism. The CCIT is described as the mother of all anti-terrorism conventions.
  • Also various extradition treaties have been signed by India with various nations.

Challenges in the present model:

  • Absence of co-ordinations among the different agencies.
  • Forces suffer from problems of acquisition and training.
  • Almost all the agencies face the shortage of staff, financial and technical resources.
  • Autonomy, accountability, professional leadership and institutional ethos are missing.
  • The police forces are not ready to tackle special issues facing the states, like infiltration in border states, inter-community conflicts in sensitive states.
  • Political will to carry out reforms is missing.
  • Border infrastructure to stop infiltration is missing.
  • Collaborations and cooperation with other countries have not been materialized substantially.

A new institution subsuming all the staggered institutions will increase the coordination and smoothen the process of operation. But it will not be sufficient. Capacities of the state police forces should be increased. If India wants to stem the increasing tide of terrorist actions, holistic changes solving the present issues in the setup should be done. Just creating an agency at the national level will not suffice.