Saturday, December 19, 2009

India Beefs Up Security Budget

Global Dispatches
India Beefs Up Security Budget
Defense Technology International Dec 01 , 2009 , p. 21
Neelam Mathews
New Delhi

India makes big investment in homeland security
Printed headline: Futures Market

The November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai exposed shortfalls in India’s homeland security spending (DTI February, p. 44). While the $26.5-billion defense budget for fiscal 2008-09 (ended Mar. 31) represented a 10% hike over the previous year, it was only 1.9% of GDP—not enough, experts assert, for a country whose economic and regional responsibilities have grown in recent years, and which faces threatening neighbors and insurgents. The government, as a result, increased security spending 25% in the current fiscal year.

This money is funding a massive shopping spree by homeland security agencies. These include the paramilitary forces, state and central police, and intelligence agencies, all of which are part of the Home Affairs Ministry.
Indian soldiers of the 7th Mechanized Infantry Btn. take up positions during a village security exercise with the U.S. Army’s 14th Cavalry Regt. Credit: U.S. DEFENSE DEPT.

Paramilitary forces received $4.3 billion for fiscal 2009-10, an increase of $1 billion from the previous year. Among the beneficiaries is the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force, which received $1.4 billion, a 26% increase. The Border Security Force—which guards the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and the 6,622-km. (4,115-mi.) border with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar—received a 20% increase in funds to $1.3 billion. Allocations to the Central Industrial Reserve Force grew by almost 21.5% to $500 million. And the New Delhi police received $1.47 billion for security at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

Internal threats from Maoist insurgents in the northeast resulted in the Assam Rifles, the local paramilitary, receiving $470 million, an increase of 34%. Tenders are planned for 10,000 pieces of body armor, 10,000 new-generation helmets and at least 80 mine-resistant vehicles for the unit—this last a fourfold increase from the current fleet.

Six major cities also benefit from the higher security budget—more than 500 surveillance cameras have been installed in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) alone.

Nevertheless, there is concern that the government has no integrated plan for security.

“The security market in India is skewed, as integrated requirements are not looked at,” says Partha Sarathi Guha Patra, vice president of strategic initiatives and offset programs at Indian conglomerate Wipro Ltd. “The market scenario today is to just procure a product.”

“Our policies and strategies need to prepare for the future,” says Shekhar Dutt, deputy national security adviser. “From box-based planning, we need to orient to a transformational mode where activity lines and time lines are well defined.”

Countering extremists requires a well-thought-out strategy, says Adm. Sureesh Mehta, former chief of naval staff. “The increasing demand on the military to assume law-and-order responsibilities is clearly an undesirable trend—this must always be a last resort. The military must never be used against our population.”

In a possible reference to reports that Pakistan has helped arm terrorists and insurgents in India, he notes, “We live in an era characterized by the rise of non-state forces. . .[and the] worrying phenomenon of the occasional coalescing of the state with some non-state entities, which has created an evil hybrid.”

The difficulty of integrating a comprehensive security makeover is evident in one plan, mired in turf wars, to give the navy overall responsibility for maritime security. The plan calls for integrating 16 now-separate coastal and offshore agencies, including the coast guard, marine police, customs, shipping and fisheries, with joint operation centers in Mumbai, Vizag, Kochi and Port Blair. A proposal to appoint a maritime security adviser is also being considered, says Defense Minister A.K. Antony.

Some gains are being made. A coastal surveillance radar station was commissioned in Karwar, Karnataka, last month by Vice Adm. Anil Chopra, director general of the coast guard. He says 14 more will be set up to fill the security gap along India’s western coast. Speedboats are also being procured for them.

Chopra recently launched an offshore patrol vessel designed and built by Goa Shipyard. The vessel has an automated bridge, room for a light helicopter and range of 4,500 nm.

The coast guard plans to buy 12 twin-engine helicopters and 12 Dornier surveillance aircraft to police India’s 7,500-km. coastline. The service has also ordered 204 interceptor boats from foreign suppliers, some of which have been delivered.

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