India Reserve Battalion (IRB). These battalions are assigned to States to assist the State Armed Police in combating low level of insurgency. These are funded partially by the Central Government and balance by the State. Presently there are 144 battalions distributed to various States. An additional eight have been sanctioned for raising and further 31 more under consideration by the Finance Ministry for new raising. Thereby making it a total of 183 battalions – approximately 1,85,000 personnel.
The NIA was raised post 26/11, 2008 but has met with resistance from States and the other intelligence agencies.
The other armed police/protection forces are the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Railway Protection Force (RPF). The former has a strength of 1,12,000 personnel and the latter approximately 65,000. In addition every State has a fairly robust force of Armed Police and even Commando Units.
Besides the above, there are a host of intelligence agencies viz. Intelligence Bureau (IB) under MHA, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) functioning under the Cabinet Secretariat. The NIA was raised post 26/11, 2008 but has met with resistance from States and the other intelligence agencies. Post the Kargil Committee Report an adhoc measure of Multi Agency Center (MAC) established to coordinate the national intelligence effort continues to function even after the formation of the NIA. There continues a serious lacuna in intelligence agencies sharing of their inputs. In reality all inputs are probably wetted centrally by the respective agency at Delhi before being disseminated for action.
Consequently there is a self-inflicted time lapse, which, in dynamic situations is not acceptable and becomes the factor dictating success or failure. Unknown to the general public, a rather quaint and in many ways humorous situation prevails on ground, often the same source sells the same information to various agencies and that to at different prices which if fact defeats the purpose of deploying so many different agencies which in the larger context is detrimental to the national interest. There is a crying need to have a unity of command. Its partial implementation is surprising. Are we scared of the bogey of too much centralization of power?
Visualise these three ‘Border Guarding Forces’ under one Director General (DG), the functional efficiency and coordination by MHA too will be more effective.
In most cases it is the inter-departmental turf war mainly to protect their respective domains to satisfy the basic esteem needs, as theorized by Maslow, not necessarily the organizations needs. This aspect should be given due cognizance and be looked at by the current dispensation with necessary detachment for the larger national good.
An analysis of the existing security structure highlights a silo like environment that limits reorganization and revamping due to each protecting its turf. A question that arises is why not merge ITBP and SSB with BSF? These three forces are “Border Guarding Forces”! Such a move will make available a larger pool of battalions for rotation in the high altitude areas along the Northern border giving a considerable time gap to battalions before they get rotated again to these difficult areas – a much needed reform. That would entail two ‘silos’ being eliminated – a move which, undoubtedly, will meet a lot of resistance for parochial and not professional reasons. Visualise these three ‘Border Guarding Forces’ under one Director General (DG), the functional efficiency and coordination by MHA too will be more effective.
To make any meaningful change will require participation by all sections of the governance mechanism to generate due synergy. The present scenario reflects a fragmented approach which is well reflected in the PM’s Independence Day speech where he mentioned the internecine machinations within the government which was the root cause of slow pace of progress which ubiquitously reflects in the attitude towards defending India. The National defense requires a national commitment and resolve. A steady sustained effort to modernize is essential to have all uniformed force being prepared always.
The security situation prevalent in Indian context is unique. Alternate options can be debated. The Homeland Security model of the US may not be suitable for applying in the Indian context due to our existing adversarial relations with certain neighbours and safe havens available to the insurgents. Handing over all security related matters to MoD would make this Ministry over-burdened and unwieldy. The gamut of intelligence agencies, that are so essential for success in CI operations, will continue with MHA which would remain a shortcoming. A modified form of the existing arrangement could be looked at too. In that all forces deployed on the LC and LAC should be placed under direct control for all purposes under the army. This should include the DIG and IG headquarters too.
It is criminal to expect a 55 or 60 year old Inspector or Sub-Inspector to be operating at 18,000 feet in the ITBP or operating against young Maoists in Central India.
In the larger context of economical utilization of resources, the silos of these various CAPF’s need to be broken down. Presently, all the CAPF’s have a common selection process however they have their own respective set of training institutes, which results in avoidable duplication of assets. As in most countries, the homeland security forces are manned by side-stepping man-power from the armed forces. This has its advantages such as –
firstly, and most essentially, a young profile of the army can be maintained to be able to operate effectively in the most hostile conditions of terrain and war situations. The sidestepping age can be kept at 40 years age. It is criminal to expect a 55 or 60 year old Inspector or Sub-Inspector to be operating at 18,000 feet in the ITBP or operating against young Maoists in Central India.
Secondly, since the man power being inducted into the CAPF’s would be trained manpower, the institutions of basic training in all cases can be dispensed with. Also requirement of institutes for training such as driver training, wireless communication training support weapons training etc are redundant as duplications will be obviated. Such a measure will also reduce the overall strength of these forces.
Thirdly, the inter-communication and coordination in operations will be more synergized.
Fourthly, equipment commonality can be an adjunct and MoD can be nominated as the single procurement Ministry.
…there will be much needed standardization of equipment leading to indigenous production even if it licensed.
Fifthly, the government is making substantial saving in expenditure under revenue head and pensions since the personnel from the army will continue to serve up to 60 years age in the CAPF’s and be eligible to pension only thereafter. At the same time the MHA is not paying for that number of personnel who it would have recruited otherwise. It is in fact a win-win situation for the nation.
The above arrangement will have tremendous advantages in decision making process. Economically there will be at least 25 – 30 % saving in expenditure as commonality of institutions / facility will reduce will reduce burden. Also there will be much needed standardization of equipment leading to indigenous production even if it licensed. There will be better response to situations developing as military precision response will draw better results. Silo domain creation will be curbed and professionally better trained leaders will tackle CI situations. Uncoordinated response by multifarious agencies will be curbed as one agency would be conveying all intelligence output. A stronger India will respond strongly and in a timely manner.