Future Mantras for the CRPF: the Changing dynamic of internal security- Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF
CRPF Veterans’ Day, 19 February 2021

I would like to thank the Director-General of the CRPF Dr AP Maheshwari for inviting me to participate in the celebration of CRPF forces veteran’s Day and the release of the book titled Nation First: History Of CRPF.

I pay my tributes to the CRPF jawans, the veterans and their families for their outstanding role in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and in maintaining the internal security. The nation is grateful to them for the sacrifices and for keeping us safe and secure

The book documents the growth of CRPF from the Crown Representative Police in 1939 to its present role in the conflict zones of Jammu and Kashmir, Left-Wing Extremism and the North-East. Apart from fighting the insurgents, the CRPF has also helped the civilian administration in the holding of elections, providing relief during emergencies and making an outreach to the civilian populations.

Starting as a one-battalion force, today the CRPF has 246 battalions force with over 300,000 jawans. It is the largest central armed police force in the country with a sterling record of devotion to duty. The nation remembers with gratitude the martyrs of the CRPF and is proud of their role and contribution to national security.

New Security Challenges

India has always faced multiple security challenges but their context keeps changing. As India rises to regional and global prominence, the internal security challenges will become even more complex. A host of factors ranging from the external security environment to domestic dynamic impact internal security.

India has been fighting insurgencies, militancy and terrorism ever since its inception. There have been significant achievements against the forces which sought to destabilize India. By using a mix of political, economic, social and kinetic strategies, India has been able to deal with its internal security challenges with remarkable success. However, it is also a fact remains that these challenges have not gone away entirely. They have morphed into new shapes and designs. With the pace of change quickening, we have to be alert to the changing character of internal security challenges. The central armed police forces, including the CRPF, have to remain relevant and effective against new security threats and challenges.

I would like to highlight fourmajor challenges that we should be aware of. The first is the rapid change in the geopolitical environment. A rising India will face a push back from some countries. The rise of China, the deepening of the China-Pakistan nexus in all forms and dimensions, the growing threat of terrorism and radicalisation, the emergence of information warfare, also called grey zone conflicts, will have to be taken into account in the doctrines, policies, strategies and SOPs of our forces including the paramilitary forces.

The second factor impacting internal security is the internal political, economic and dynamic of the country. India is a 5000-year-old civilization but a relatively young modern nation-state. We have to overcome the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment. The unique feature about India is its infinite regional, social, linguistic, ethnic diversity. Yet, there is a cultural unity in the nation. We have to keep our unity intact. Our culture is tolerant and accommodative. Maintaining harmony in diversity is a perennial challenge. Internal security problems tend to grow out of difficulties in maintaining harmony in the society.

Further, like anywhere else, our youth have rising but legitimate aspirations. We have limited resources. Meeting the aspirations of young people must be our top priority. Channelizing their energies into constructive nation-building must be our policy.

We are also subject to the ill effects of climate change and environmental degradation which manifest in natural disasters, migrations, economic dislocation is et cetera. Our internal security situation will have to take onboard the series of non-traditional security threats which are growing in scope and scale.

The third challenge is that of technology. Disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, drones, surveillance, 5G communication, big data analytics, have an impact on politics, economics, society and practically all aspects of our behaviour. Technology is both an enabler as well as a disruptor. The weaponisation of social media has raised many issues for our armed forces and paramilitary forces. With the help of technology, the adversaries are better placed to penetrate the society, exploit the fault lines, spread disinformation and create confusion in the society, lower the morale of the Armed Forces, attack the critical information infrastructure relatively at low cost and with a degree of anonymity.

The traditional method of fighting the enemy with guns and mortars is not effective in the grey conflict zones. It is becoming increasingly imperative that our national security institutions understand the nature of grey zone conflict and take appropriate and timely action. Cyberspace is borderless. The enemy becomes invisible in cyberspace and social media. The social media platforms have enormous power. They are locked in constant struggle with the establishment. They are unaccountable to a nations’ laws and rules. Dealing with social media and its ramifications will count as one of the biggest challenges in internal security.

The new technologies need to be adopted and adapted by our Armed Forces. This means that the doctrines, SOPs, the equipment profile, training, the organisational culture et cetera will have to change appropriately and rapidly. This is a big challenge for armed forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force.

A fourth challenge is that of coordination. Dealing with internal security challenges requires coordinated thinking and action. Fighting internal security threats has to be an all of government and all-of-society approach. India has a variety of national security institutions, each one of them fulfilling its respective role. We are learning the hard way that our institutions should pull in the same direction. This does not happen in practice. We have to overcome all shortcomings in this area. The National Security Council were set up in 1999 to take a holistic view of national security.

India

After the Kargil war, the government to set up a Kargil Review Committee whose recommendations led to the formation of a Group Of Ministers, several task forces to look at the national security complex in a holistic fashion. A task force on internal security was set up under the chairmanship of Mr NN Vohra. Several recommendations of the task force were accepted. The Naresh Chandra committee set up in 2011 reviewed the security environment in the country and made certain recommendations. We perhaps need another effort to understand how the internal security environment is changing and what should be done to overcome the new challenges.

The Pulwama terror attacks is an act demonstration of the blurring of the distinction between the internal and external security challenges. The Air Force strikes on Balakot deep inside Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack broke limits. Before that, the surgical strikes on terror camps in the UK following the Uri terror attacks showed that India is beginning to follow a zero-tolerance policy insofar as terrorism is concerned. This has many implications for internal as well as external security of the country. We have also seen that all adversaries, be it Pakistan or China, have not taken kindly to the abrogation of Article 370 and reorganisation of the Jammu and Kashmir state. We should expect them to continue to oppose the changes which are internal nature.

The role of the neighbourhood in India’s securities dynamic cannot be overestimated. Pakistan will continue to wage a proxy war against India in the future. China has backed in the past north-east insurgents and has the potential of doing so again in the future. China is growing inroads into India’s neighbourhood poses many security challenges.

The developments in Myanmar in the last few weeks are also a reminder of the instability in our neighbourhood which can have an impact on our security. The insurgency in north-east is sensitive to the developments in the neighbourhood.

Fighting the war’s is a highly complex exercise. The Arthasastra mentions 4 kinds of wars: the kutayudha or the tactical or, the prakashyudha the open war, mantrayudha the diplomatic war, and the tushnimyudha or the silent war. The CRPF, the largest central armed police force, would benefit from a reading of the Arthasastra. It would be useful if our Armed Forces study this perceptive treatise at length and adapted to their current needs.

I once again congratulate you all on the first Veterans’ Day and wish the CRPF success in its operations.

Thank you and Jai Hind.

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