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Modernisation plans for India’s para-military forces battling odds have been seriously jeopardized, reports Mayank Singh
MAYANK SINGH | Issue Dated: September 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Militancy | Terrorism | Jammu and Kashmir | Paramilitary forces | BSP | ITBP |
 

India’s seven central para-military forces with a combined strength of a million that face terrorist threats and civil disturbances every day, often with heavy casualties, have just been handed out the unkindest cut of their jeopardized existences: a mere Rs 89.45 crores in the name of modernization.       

Experts say the amount is a pittance, considering that the forces had drawn up Rs 2199.14 crore as demand for funds. Justifiably, para-military forces say they are against adversaries who are focused, capable of employing better tactics and use superior weaponry. The morale of the forces at this point could not be lower, an officer confesses.

Some statistics are revealing. In 2013, there has been a seven-fold increase in the death of security personnel involved in Jammu and Kashmir alone.(See graphic) The suicide rate among forces has not come down despite pious proclamations of implementing steps to mitigate the twin and deadly issues of stress and demotivation. Insiders say since the last three years, the average annual suicide rate has remained at 40 and is expected to rise this year, particularly in the Border Security Force (BSF).

Click Here to Read Interview of Prakash Singh, former DG BSF

For the men who handle Left Wing extremism, counter insurgency (CI) operations, terrorism, election duties, law and order engagements and VIP security, the amount doled out is peanuts. It could well push up the rate of suicide, fratricide and resignations and is becoming a cause of worry.

These forces come under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), whose para-military division runs their affairs in close coordination with their director general bosses under close watch of the special secretary internal security.

In 2002, a well intentioned and foresighted step was taken when Implementation of the Modernisation Plan-I for para-military forces was initiated. But, the foresight turned out to be a blind alley; the first modernisation plan supposed to conclude by 2007 overstretched itself by five years.

The second phase of the modernisation plan which began this year has therefore been allocated a measly sum of Rs 89.45 crores for the combined strength of Assam Rifles, BSF, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo Tibetan Border Force (ITBP), National Security Guards (NSG) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). Of this amount, Rs 28 crore has already gone to Assam Rifles and Rs 20 crores to the BSF.

An officer associated with the modernization process explains their herculean demands from resources that are scarce. ``Modernization does not only mean acquisition of weapons and ammunition. It includes the well being of men battling the country’s internal and external threats. It also includes clothing, tentage, communication and medical equipment like night vision devices, Global Positioning Systems and warm clothes for high altitude.’’

Training remains an integral part of modernisation and is prominently mentioned in all proposals before `competent decision and policy makers’. It is here that questions have been raised over the `experts’ understanding, grasp and the foresight in handling the internal security paradigm.

Ideally, say officials, there should have been a third modernisation plan in place by now. They say that acquisitions delayed in time and procurement will create problems even if more money is pumped in the subsequent years.

Modernisation needs acquisitions which are done under a due process of tendering and contracts, which is gradual and time consuming. Typically, every tender needs the support of suppliers and in case a year’s requirement is added to the next year’s procurement, the supplier might not be able to meet the demand, causing further delays and red tape. This is an important reason why the modernisation plan continues to be delayed.

Security experts believe that threat perception and modus operandi are dynamic, the tactics and nature of operations fast evolving. It becomes essential to keep upgrading technology and strengthening the forces to counter changing tactics of anti-nationals. But that by no means is the only focus. Modernisation has to take into account saving invaluable lives of the force personnel under hostilities in treacherous terrain and inclement weather by dominating the enemy. Sadly, in an era of vote bank politics, national security is none’s baby – not even the mandarins who run the MHA. 



mayank.singh@thesundayindian.com

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017