Why is it in the news?
- The government’s decision to construct a fence along the entire 1643-kilometer-long Indo-Myanmar border aims to enhance surveillance and security measures.
- Further, it aims to curb illegal activities such as smuggling, human trafficking, and infiltration of armed groups.
- It utilizes a Hybrid Surveillance System (HSS) reflecting the adoption of modern technology to bolster traditional border management methods, facilitating more effective monitoring of border movements.
- The timeline for completing the fencing project within the next four-and-a-half years highlights the government’s prioritization of border security measures.
|About Free Movement Regime (FMR)
· FMR serves as a mechanism to foster goodwill and facilitate the movement of border communities for cultural, social, and economic purposes.
· Allowing tribes residing along the border to travel up to 16 kilometres into each other’s territory without the need for visas promotes people-to-people interactions and strengthens cultural ties.
· The issuance of border passes with a one-year validity further streamlines the process, enabling eligible individuals to cross the border for short-term visits.
· Geographical Significance: The long land border and maritime boundary shared between India and Myanmar provide the foundation for multifaceted bilateral cooperation.
· Diplomatic Relations: High-level visits and engagements between the two countries demonstrate a commitment to maintaining strong diplomatic ties and addressing mutual concerns.
· Historical and Cultural Ties: Deep-rooted historical and cultural connections, influenced by shared traditions, religions, and historical interactions, form the bedrock of the relationship.
· Geopolitical Importance: Myanmar’s strategic location as a gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia aligns with India’s broader geopolitical interests, contributing to regional stability and connectivity.
· Economic Cooperation: Bilateral trade continues to grow, supported by trade agreements and initiatives, bolstering economic ties and mutual prosperity.
· Security Cooperation: Collaboration on security issues, including intelligence sharing and joint border patrolling, underscores the commitment to addressing common security challenges.
· Connectivity Projects: Infrastructure projects such as the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project and the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway aim to enhance connectivity and facilitate trade and investment flows.
· Development Assistance: India’s developmental assistance to Myanmar spans various sectors, reflecting a commitment to supporting Myanmar’s socio-economic development and capacity building.
Borders in India
- India has over 15,000 kilometres of land borders and more than 7,500 kilometres of maritime borders, making effective border management crucial for national security.
- The country shares borders with seven neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
- Initially, post-independence, border guarding responsibility rested with state forces, but it was found inadequate to address emerging challenges and threats.
- Later, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) were subsequently raised under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to guard India’s borders, operating under the ministry’s control.
- In times of active hostilities or heightened security concerns, the Indian Army assumes responsibility for border defence, working in coordination with CAPFs to ensure border security and integrity.
Need for border management in India
- Marked by historical conflicts and ongoing tensions, with Pakistan engaging in conventional wars and proxy warfare, notably in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Punjab.
- Active Line of Control (LoC) deployment by the Indian Army alongside the Border Security Force (BSF) to manage security challenges.
- Disputed territories in Ladakh, Middle Sector, and Arunachal Pradesh, with minimal progress in resolution despite multiple diplomatic talks.
- Tensions persist, necessitating continuous vigilance and defence measures, particularly following the Doklam standoff in 2017.
- Relations fluctuate based on political leadership, with current ties relatively stable but susceptible to disruption due to external influences like Pakistan’s attempts to exploit religious divides and Chinese involvement.
- Border security remains a priority due to historical issues and the potential for external interference.
- India’s defence responsibility includes safeguarding Bhutan against external threats, such as Chinese aggression as seen in the Doklam standoff.
- Ongoing Chinese threats underscore the importance of securing this border to preserve Bhutan’s sovereignty and security.
- Close ties with Nepal present unique challenges, including porous borders facilitating the movement of people and illicit activities.
- Increasing Chinese influence and infrastructure developments near the border, coupled with Pakistan’s ISI exploiting vulnerabilities, pose security concerns.
- A large land boundary with porous sections, enabling insurgent activities and refugee influxes into northeastern states like Manipur.
- Local communities divided across borders and insurgent camps in Myanmar’s jungles highlight the need for enhanced border security measures and cooperation with Myanmar.
Challenges in Border Management
Porosity of Borders:
- Many parts of India’s borders are porous, allowing for illegal crossings of people, goods, and contraband. Factors such as difficult terrains, dense forests, and riverine areas make it challenging for border security forces to monitor and prevent such activities.
- Porous borders facilitate activities like smuggling, human trafficking, and infiltration by militants, necessitating constant vigilance and investment in surveillance technology and manpower.
- India faces threats of cross-border terrorism, particularly from Pakistan-based militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir. These groups exploit porous borders to infiltrate Indian territory and carry out attacks, leading to security concerns and tensions between the two countries.
- Effectively combating cross-border terrorism requires not only robust border security measures but also intelligence cooperation and diplomatic efforts to address the root causes of terrorism.
- Transnational criminal activities, including smuggling of narcotics, arms, and counterfeit currency, thrive along India’s borders due to porous stretches and inadequate surveillance.
- Such criminal activities pose serious security and socio-economic challenges, undermining national security and fuelling organized crime networks. Combating transnational crime requires enhanced cooperation with neighbouring countries and improved law enforcement mechanisms.
Ethnic and Tribal Dynamics:
- Border regions in India are often inhabited by diverse ethnic and tribal communities with historical ties across borders. Managing the aspirations and grievances of these communities, while preventing their exploitation by external forces, requires a nuanced approach to border management.
- Engaging with local communities through development programs, cultural exchanges, and dialogue can foster trust and cooperation, strengthening border security efforts.
Dispute over Borders:
- India has unresolved border disputes with neighbouring countries, notably China and Pakistan, leading to occasional tensions and confrontations. These disputes pose challenges to border management and require constant vigilance and diplomatic efforts to maintain peace and stability.
- Resolving border disputes through dialogue and confidence-building measures is essential for fostering trust and cooperation among neighbouring countries.
- Many border areas in India lack basic infrastructure such as roads, communication networks, and border outposts, hampering the effectiveness of border management efforts.
- Developing infrastructure in remote and inhospitable border regions is crucial for enhancing surveillance capabilities, facilitating rapid response to security threats, and improving the quality of life for border communities.
- India shares borders with countries experiencing political instability, humanitarian crises, and refugee influxes, posing humanitarian challenges.
- Managing refugee influxes while upholding humanitarian principles and international obligations requires coordination with humanitarian organizations, neighbouring countries, and international partners.
- Addressing India’s border challenges necessitates a comprehensive strategy, incorporating robust surveillance, security measures, and diplomatic initiatives for conflict resolution, alongside the development of border infrastructure and community engagement to address local concerns and aspirations.
- A multi-pronged approach ensures a holistic and effective response to the diverse complexities of border management.