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Shashank Mittal asked: What are the emerging threats to India's internal security in the wake of globalisation, regime changes in the neighbourhood, and emerging technologies?

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  • Shruti Pandalai replies: Globalisation, many would argue, is facing a backlash in the current global order in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis as it amplified shifts already underway both due to the US–China split and the post-pandemic rewiring of economics and trade. Realignments and increasing focus among countries to look inwards, reshoring and building capacities to source and manufacture domestically and with trusted partners, have become an emerging trend. The pushback has also come at a time when countries are dealing with slow post-pandemic economic recovery, and there is a feeling that while globalisation brought profits, it also accentuated inequalities which in turn have an impact on internal security dynamics.

    India's centrality to global geo-strategic and geo-economic networks has meant that external shocks like the Russia–Ukraine war have had a defining impact on India's internal security calculus, especially in the realm of food and energy security. This development is not new, given that the traditional definitions of security have now broadened to accommodate challenges to human security like climate change, food and energy, apart from health security, as apparent in the aftermath of COVID-19. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has highlighted organised crimes against civilians, left-wing extremism (LWE), cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), militancy in the north-east, and drugs and narcotics trafficking as prominent challenges to India's internal security apparatus in its annual reports. Additionally, cyber security threats, as seen in disruptive attacks on India's online ecosystems, and environmental degradation have also emerged as the latest security challenges.

    Technology manipulation by terrorist organisations and their supporters for recruitment, financing, propaganda, training, inciting lone wolf attacks, etc., in the age of fake news and disinformation via social media, also tests India’s law and order and internal security machinery. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval cautioned in 2021: “The new frontiers of war—what we call the fourth-generation warfare—is the civil society. War itself has ceased to become an effective instrument for achieving your political or military objectives. They are too expensive and unaffordable.” This new frontier of war, he added, is characterised by uncertain outcomes and “it is the civil society that can be subverted…that can be divided, that can be manipulated to hurt the interest of a nation”.

    Therefore, India’s concerns, given the growing economic and political instability in its South Asian neighbourhood, are a manifestation of these very worrying trends. Rising techno-nationalism, differences among nations on how to regulate data and digital economies, etc., have only added to the fractious politics of the time and the complexities of decision and policy making.

    Posted on 28 April 2022

    Views expressed are of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Government of India.