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Indian Express

26- December-2023

1. The Pir Panjal challenge

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security- Security challenges and their management in border areas
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of internal security challenges faced by India.
  • Given its reputation for effectiveness in counterterrorism operations, the Indian Army faces a serious challenge from the recent spike of unfavourable engagements in the Poonch-Rajouri region.
  • This change in the operational context begs the question of what is causing the increase in terrorist activity in this particular area.
Terrorist Shift to Poonch-Rajouri Sector:
  • Terrorism chose the path of least resistance, eschewing Kashmir’s strong counter-infiltration and counterterrorism grid, which is why there has been a shift in terrorist activity to the Poonch-Rajouri area.
  • Pakistan’s proxy operations are facilitated by the region’s physical features and the historically sympathetic local people.
Redeployment and Dilution Concerns:
  • Concerns are raised about what will happen to the Indian Army when it is redeployed from this area, especially when the Ladakh sector which got activated in May 2020.
  • Even with troop movements, the Army remained vigilant about ensuring the best possible placement.
  • Nonetheless, some amount of redeployment is necessary to fortify the grid in the face of heightened adversary focus.
Comparisons with Past Instances:
  • Recalling historical examples, like the Army’s 8 Mountain Division’s 1999 transfer from North Kashmir to Kargil, emphasises the necessity of strategic redeployment in reaction to changing threats.
  • The Indian Army’s response to changing circumstances has always been characterised by tactical and operational agility.
Review of Drills and SOPs:
  • Reviewing tactical drills, convoy security protocols, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) is warranted by the current situation.
  • In order to reduce casualties, the Army needs to learn from the past and concentrate on improving its response during the crucial first two minutes of contact.
  • Brigade-sized operations with drone backup are among the recommendations for sensitive areas.
Ethical Considerations and Investigations:
  • A transparent and comprehensive investigation is necessary to address the regrettable civilian losses and post-event developments.
  • The Indian Army’s adherence to moral principles is still fundamental, and any infractions should be dealt with by disciplinary measures.
  • To avoid rumours and preserve public confidence, political and senior military figures must communicate in a balanced manner.
Public Outreach and Reassurance:
  • A comprehensive public outreach programme, like the one that worked well in the Valley, should be started in order to combat any potential discontent and false information.
  • Engaging local populations in Pir Panjal South right away is crucial to addressing feelings and averting negative effects on the surrounding area.
  • Notwithstanding ongoing difficulties, the administration and the Indian Army’s track record of handling challenging circumstances should give the country comfort.
  • The long-term viability of counterterrorism operations in the Poonch-Rajouri sector depends critically on maintaining transparency, modifying tactics, and addressing local views.
Role of Investigating Agencies in addressing these Internal Security threats:
  • Terrorism: Central Intelligence and Investigative Agencies are pivotal in detecting, preventing, and mitigating terrorist activities.
    • NIA: Deal with the investigation of crimes.
    • Intelligence Bureau: An apex intelligence body that collects and collates information within the country and also executes counter intelligence and counter-terrorism operations.
    • Research and Analysis Wing (RAW): Conducts counter-terrorism operations
    • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID): Using ICT, track down suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.
    • National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC): Coordinate all counter-terrorism measures.
  • Insurgency: Intelligence agencies, RAW and IB, in coordination with the military’s intelligence units, play an integral role in surveillance, counter-insurgency operations, and crisis management.
    • The National Security Guard (NSG) leads counter-terrorism operations, while the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) assists in maintaining law and order.
  • Border Security: The Border Security Force (BSF), Assam Rifles, and other paramilitary forces work with intelligence agencies to fortify borders, combat smuggling, and infiltrations.
    • Border Protection Grid: To be set up in Indian states bordering Bangladesh.
  • Counterintelligence: Intelligence Bureau and RAW monitor and counter espionage and foreign intelligence threats.
·       Central intelligence and investigative agencies, along with state police forces and armed forces, collaborate to address these multifaceted internal security threats and maintain the country’s security and stability which is important to achieve the goal of Developed Bharat by 2047.
PYQ: Analyse the multidimensional challenges posed by external state and non-state actors, to the internal security of India. Also discuss measures required to take to be taken to combat the threats. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)
Practice Question: Assess the ethical considerations in the aftermath of civilian casualties and explore the broader implications of these security challenges on India’s overall security paradigm. (150 words/10 m)

2. Safety and cybersecurity

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security- Cybersecurity
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of challenges to internal security through communication networks.
  • Concerns were raised around the world in October after it was discovered that a US company called Resecurity was selling the personal information of about 815 million Indians on the dark web.
  • Such data contained addresses, Aadhaar numbers, passport information, and names, all of which constituted a serious risk to security and privacy. This event highlights a persistent problem—the growing frequency of Indian personal information dumps.
Persistent Vulnerabilities:
  • Although there are data breaches everywhere, certain nations are still more vulnerable than others.
  • India is a desirable target for bad actors due to its quickly rising economy, widespread use of mobile phones, and growing market size.
  • In comparison to the United States and other nations, India does not have as many effective incident response mechanisms in place, despite the increasing incidence of cyber scams that cause financial losses and social stigma.
Government’s Response:
  • Reactions to data breaches by the Indian government have been marked by denials, a lack of transparency, and poor citizen communication.
  • Unlike the United States, where incident response teams quickly notify and instruct impacted people, India’s approach is devoid of a well-thought-out, long-term cybersecurity plan.
  • The lack of a thorough plan makes citizens defenceless and ignorant of possible dangers.
Aadhaar Dilemma:
  • Touted as a ground-breaking endeavour, the Aadhaar system has unintentionally added to the problem of data vulnerability.
  • The government imposed Aadhaar registration across several industries, exposing citizens to unmanaged risks of a digital disaster, even though the Supreme Court barred such a measure.
  • Although the Supreme Court acknowledged that Aadhaar may violate privacy, it did not adequately address the impending risks.
Challenges with Data Protection Act:
  • The Data Protection Act, which was recently introduced in India, does not adequately manage sensitive health information because it exempts the government from requirements for data erasure and retention.
  • Provisions guaranteeing people’ right to the completion, updating, and correction of personal data are absent from the Act.
  • These shortcomings impede the safeguarding of confidential data and fuel the ongoing cybersecurity threat.
Recommendations for Cybersecurity Enhancement:
  • The Indian government should give the prevention, detection, evaluation, and remediation of cyber incidents top priority in order to address the worrying data breach situation.
  • Essential measures include adopting a zero-trust architecture, establishing a cyber security board with participation from the public and commercial sectors, and putting in place a uniform playbook for incident response.
  • Building a secure digital infrastructure also requires prioritising citizen-centric policies and updating state networks.
  • India’s goal of becoming a Digital India needs to be in line with strong cybersecurity protocols.
  • To better inform and safeguard the public, increase transparency, and create all-encompassing crisis response protocols, prompt action is needed.
  • India can only address the issues raised by ongoing data breaches and protect the digital welfare of its people by working together.
Indian Initiatives regarding Cyber Security
  • National Cyber Security Strategy 2020: By conducting more thorough audits, it aims to enhance cybersecurity and cyber awareness. Empanelled cyber auditors will examine an organization’s security features more thoroughly than is now required by law.
  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC): The NCIIPC, created under Information Technology Act, 2000, operates as the nodal agency for protection and resilience of critical information infrastructure
  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): It was established in 2020 to address all forms of cybercrimes in a thorough and organised way.
  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative: It was introduced in 2018 with the intention of raising awareness of cybercrime and enabling Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and front-line IT personnel in all government agencies to develop safety measures.
  • Cyber Swachhta Kendra: This platform was launched in 2017 to help users of the internet clean their computers and devices by removing malware and viruses.
  • Information Technology Act, 2000: The Act regulates use of computers, computer systems, computer networks and also data and information in electronic format.
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: This citizen-centric effort will allow citizens to file online reports of cybercrimes, and the relevant law enforcement agencies will review all of the complaints and take appropriate legal action.
  • Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-In): It is a department of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that gathers, examines, and distributes data about cybersecurity incidents in addition to sending out alerts about such attacks.
  • Cybersecurity Treaties: India and the US, Russia, the UK, South Korea, and the European Union have previously signed cybersecurity treaties.
  • Multilateral Frameworks: Multinational frameworks like the Quad and the I2U2 are being used to try to promote capacity building, cyber resilience improvement, response to cyber incidents, and technological collaboration.
  • India’s draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2022: It aims to guarantee that personal data is exclusively used for legitimate reasons and suggests that data breaches might result in fines of up to ₹500 crore.
  • Defence Cyber Agency (DCyA): It is created by Indian armed forces and is capable of offensive and defensive manoeuvres.
PYQ: What are the different elements of cyber security? Keeping in view the challenges in cyber security, examine the extent to which India has successfully developed a comprehensive National Cyber Security Strategy. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2022) (250 words/15 m)
Practice Question: Evaluate the role of initiatives like Aadhaar in contributing to data security concerns. Suggest comprehensive measures and policy reforms that the Indian government should undertake to enhance cybersecurity mechanisms. (250 words/15 m)

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