India’s territorial borders, both land, and sea ache from diverse physical, ethnic and cultural contradictions. While the state has a major role in securing war frontier, the populations along territorial peripheries, too, can play an important role in securing our interests. The people living in these areas are the most important ingredient towards a secure and safe border area.
- This would require reconceptualizing the concept of border guarding to effective border management, where local people became the centre of gravity of all actions.
- The border guarding forces have to evolve ways and means to mainstream the local population in the management of the border areas
Inherent Weakness of the Border Condition
The Group of Ministers (GoM) on ‘reforming India’s national security structures,’ in its report in the year 2001 had remarked that; the people living on India’s international border particularly on land borders faces myriads of problems like difficult terrain, harsh living conditions, and lack of access to public amenities. Frequent shelling from across the border thinly spread out administration and inadequate social and economic infrastructure make life difficult in this area. Concerted efforts are being made by our hostile neighbours through allurements, subversion, and promotion of religious fundamentalism to generate a feeling of alienation among the border population.
The border population has many other disadvantages as under:
- Vulnerability to actions of border criminals.
- Restriction/control over movement by forces.
- Fear of unknown—threat of aggression by the enemy, cross-border shelling,
- firing, etc.
- Lack of industrialization/economic progress, neglect by Government
- being frontier areas.
- Lack of infrastructure, means of communication, education, medical,
- water, and remoteness.
Integrating Local Population in Border Management The people living in the border areas are the most important ingredients towards a secure and safe border. Village Defence and Development Committees at the base level with the cooperation of the local populace would go a long way in enhancing security and development of the borders besides providing a sense of belonging to these people. There would be a requirement of training the locals as well as motivating and providing incentives for engaging the locals in the task of border management. Once this is done, they
will prove more than a useful tool to manage localized border problems.
The locals could well perform the following tasks by forming Village Defence Committees (VDC) etc:
- Reporting of any illegal activities and infiltration along the border.
- Keeping allotted areas under surveillance.
- Reporting of any abnormal activity especially in rugged terrain.
- Reporting of subversive activity being carried out by the enemy.
- Employed in construction of roads, tracks and maintenance of border
- In times of peace as well as hostilities, local population can provide
- invaluable information regarding enemy build-up and activities.
- Protection of villages against criminals/dacoits etc from across the
- Provide guides to the Armed Forces whenever required.
BGF and Community Development at border area
- The GoM had remarked, “BGF is an extension of Central Government in far-flung territories.
- They should utilize this advantage by serving as a vector to conduit the genuine local problems and demands for onward submission, for guiding community development, and participation programs for onward submission.
- The relationship between BGF and border population should be viewed as a management function, which should take into consideration public attitude and perception, identifying the problems and policies and programs of action to earn goodwill, understanding, and acceptance of the community”.
This can be achieved by:
- Providing adequate security.
- Improvement of basic amenities, infrastructure, and living conditions of
- people in border areas.
- Assist in generating employment opportunities.
- BGF must identify community-oriented programs, which could be:
- Identification and development of projects in terms of infrastructure,
- health, education, employment generation, etc.
- An effective communication with the villagers leading to better
- understanding, win public trust and encourage public co-operation.
- To develop public understanding of problems faced by the force.
- Projecting a positive image of BGF through media.
A strict adherence to code of conduct, ethical standards of discipline and integrity, and attempts on attitudinal changes. At the functional level, Civic Action Programmes (CAP) and population support measures can be evolved. Civic action must be a continuous, dynamic, should fulfil local needs and aspirations. Funds may be provided either directly to BGF or through State Government. However, these programmes may be executed through State Government or NGOs but identification and selection of projects and its monitoring should be the domain of the BGF.
The following are some of the steps that can be admitted at border area
· Review Field Procedures: Many of the regulations and practices thatapply to the forces that distance them from the common man. It is necessary to re-look such policies and practices.
· Training for a More Ethical Force: Continuous motivation, incentive, and monitoring will develop a morally and ethically strong force.
· Training to Develop a Community Oriented Force: The role of the BGF in the borders areas is such that there is bound to be a difference of opinion between the citizens and the forces. The skill for adept handling of the public can only come through sustained training.
- To add further Misleading interpretations of culture, hatred and ignorance mar the process of persuasion and cognitive change. In this situation, ‘soft power’ is a solution to deal with intractable conflicts arising out of socio-psychological barriers.
- Without development processes, there is no organic end to the causes of discontent and unrest. Deliverables mirroring social empowerment by means of education, skills development, employment facilitation, human rights and the rule of law have enough in them to manage favourable perception among locals.
- The widening divide between BGF and population in bordering areas is cause of concern, since effective border guarding is not possible without community support
- . It is, therefore, of paramount importance that, BGFs evolve ways and means, whereby people develop a feeling of attachment toward them.
The community should serve as force multiplier in border management. Once the local population along the bordering areas is integrated in the mainstream, a certain amount of moral responsibility would automatically come in. The realistic ‘community’s participation in India’s border management’ can be achieved only thereafter
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