Monday, 1 July 2013

Changing homeland security landscape in India
By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. Homeland Security is increasingly perceived as being critical to the overall security of the country. Indian security market is growing at 35% against 7% globally. India's share in global expenditure in the sector is also expected to rise to 6% by 2020 from 3.6% now. And this is a positive trend.
Substantiating limited capability of police and paramilitary forces with new equipment, creation of new and dedicated forces and units to counter emerging situations, proactive approach to critical infrastructure, asset protection and disaster management are certain demand factors driving the homeland security market. But is the government able to keep pace with these requirements?
 India is expected to spend INR 4,500 crore on domestic security before 2016 . In this context, the Ministry of Home Affairs has proposed to create a Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) that will work at both the center and State level to compile and disperse intelligence to the police and paramilitary forces. Government has  set up a National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) which would be the nodal point for handling all aspects related to terrorism In India. There is approximately INR 324 crore allocated for this endeavor. A further amount of INR 10.50 crore has been released to establish seven counter insurgency and anti-terrorism schools.
Several reforms have been initiated in the recent past to strengthen and consolidate the existing Homeland Security infrastructure in the country. However, imparting further momentum to the needed reforms will require intensification of the Government’s on-going active management and fine tuning of policy, regulations, process and fiscal environment to help ensure strong domestic growth and the achievement of self-sufficiency.
Though no comprehensive study has been done to determine the size of the Indian homeland security market, estimates expect the market to be between $20 and 50 billion (USD) over the next decade and about $10 billion in the next three years. Over half of the market growth is expected to come from a demand in new equipment – especially for electronic surveillance, mine detection and early warning systems. In addition, an estimated 10-20 percent of growth is expected to be spent on the strengthening of internal security network.
Until recently, procurement of hardware for internal security was not seen as independent from that for the armed forces. As a consequence, police and paramilitary forces’ requirements were met by either cast-offs from the armed forces or were treated as an afterthought. But over the last five years, the CPOs or paramilitary forces have seen their budget allocations rise, as a greater de-linking has taken place between the Home and Defence Ministries, given the rising incidence of terror and the growing threat from left-wing extremism. Policing in general, and counter-terrorism operations in particular have, remained low in technology for decades.
Another  imperative is to equip both the police  and paramilitary personnel with a complete set of survival and defence gear – also for urban warfare – with a focus on lightweight equipment like torches, minor explosives, helmets, and water bottles, riot protection gear, goggles to guard against explosives and bullet-proof vests.
The government currently plans to better integrate Civil Defence in the overall Disaster Management Framework by providing better training to volunteers, and upgrading existing physical infrastructure, transport facilities and equipment. There is also a requirement for early warning systems against floods and avalanches, especially in border regions. The Framework also calls for an integrated approach to local and coastal security, especially for a peninsular nation like India. Post 26/11 the focus seems to have shifted to this approach and is a positive step ahead.
Another impediment which needs to be looked into is the huge mismatch between ambition and acquisition for the internal security forces. Protective Gears, simulation aids, tentage,  clothing, communication equipment, transport fleet and surveillance equipment  need to be state-of-the –art, which unfortunately are not.
The wish list of the paramilitary and police forces is long and the bosses in North Block need to take congnigence of it. India has not been able to competitively manufacture the required equipment and has been forced to procure most of them from non-Indian vendors. Though attempts are being made to assemble equipment in India, core components are still required from foreign suppliers. The Defence Public Sector units, DRDO and the indigenous  private sector industry needs to sit up and take stalk of this existing requirement.
India’s homeland security market is expected to be worth 9 billion US$ by 2018, according to a recent assessment. India is rapidly overhauling its security apparatus, creating a gaping appetite for homeland security expertise and technology. This has brought American and European companies and diplomats to try and get a share of the huge contracts expected in the coming years. India needs almost all “tools” of homeland security and this brings many companies to offer their systems. Currently, Israel companies are making efforts to join forces with local companies in India to improve their chances to win contracts.
Strengthening  the policy framework in order to fully realize India’s vision for Homeland Security by encouraging greater public private participation, allowing access to and adoption of latest technologies and leveraging the growing defence sector specific competencies created within the country, is the need of the hour. With mass transport systems seemingly more vulnerable to terrorism than other sectors, bomb detection sensors and surveillance equipment are high on the priority list for state police forces. IP Surveillance is quickly gaining significant ground over conventional CCTV cameras, due to better performance and more competitive costs.

In sum, the Indian internal security market offers a variety of opportunities. But there are bureaucratic obstacles related to policy and procurement that continue to stand in the way. As the government continues to develop and refine its homeland security strategy, the hope is that these obstacles begin to come down, and that India will stand up a first-rate internal security architecture.