Borders as Fortresses

Integrated border management needs to be developed as part of the national security system

Aditya Kakkar and Younis Ahmad Kaloo

New Delhi: Borders, both maritime and land, offer opportunities with regard to trade and cross-border movement of people and, at the same time, pose several challenges to a nation. The challenges include but are not limited to cross-border terrorism, illegal migration, trafficking and smuggling of arms.

A country the size of India with land border stretching up to 15,106.7 km running through 92 districts in 17 states and the coastline of 7,516.6km touching 13 states and Union territories, maintaining effective border security without jeopardising the trade and the rightful movement of the people and ensuring the development of border areas are still the daunting issues.

“We have not been able to provide basic facilities which will make the border management efficient, said Kiren Rijiju in his keynote address in the inaugural session of the two-day conference on Smart border management-2017 in New Delhi.

The reason is, length of the borders apart including that of the coastline, the different terrain of the borders comprising deserts, plains, hills, mountains, high altitude and riverine areas. Different weathers and, more importantly, the lack of adequate technology are the other factors.

The two-day conference with a special focus on India’s coastal and maritime security organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in partnership with India Foundation was conducted from September 18-19 in New Delhi. People from the concerned ministry, border forces, industries, representatives from the border states and union territories and experts presented their opinions and solutions on how the borders can be ‘smartly’ managed, keeping in mind the interest of all the stakeholders.

“A nation is defined by its borders,” said the minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju in the beginning of his address after releasing a report Smart border management: Indian coastal and maritime security. The report is a joint compilation of FICCI and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).

“The nation does not begin from the national capital but from the border area. We don’t consider a border point a point of division but a point of coming together, friendship and closer relationship. We want our border areas to be peaceful and to create an atmosphere where the people living along the borderline can make their life more prosperous, which will happen only if there are activities along the borders. That is why we don’t have the policy of erecting fencing in the areas other than Indo-Pakistan and Indo-China borders,” he added.

The minister towards the end of his address while speaking on the coastal borders said that the government is concentrating on strengthening the marine police and establishing coastal police stations. “We are rephrasing our concern with regard to territorial waters, economic zones, and blue water to secure our coastal border,” he said. The home affairs minister also sought the suggestions and recommendations, which would come as a result of the two-day conference, from FICCI and India Foundation and assured that the necessary steps will be taken as soon as possible.

“From the government side, there will be no stone unturned to ensure that our country’s border is robust, secure and well-guarded,” he said.


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