Basics of Internal Security

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        


When India became independent, and apart from the turmoil of Partition and its deleterious impact, it confronted a string of violent agitations, including major Communist uprisings in Bengal and in the south, till the early 1950s. India withstood these challenges with utmost fortitude. 

  • Following this, India had a string of insurgencies, regional upheavals, linguistic tensions and related problems during much of the 1960s and the 1970s. 
  • Overshadowing many of these agitations, however, was the unrest and turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the wake of Partition, fanned to a great extent by an inimical Pakistan.

What is Internal and External Security?

Internal Security

External Security

Internal security deals with 
  • Upholding sovereignty of the country within the border of the country from disruptive and anti-national forces. 
  • Preservation of unity and integrity of the state maintaining law and order
  • Safety of its citizens from threats originating within its own borders. 
  • Comes under the ambit of the Ministry of home affairs 

Components of Internal Security

Law Enforcement: Maintaining public order and enforcing laws.Intelligence and Surveillance: Gathering and analysing information to prevent threats.
    • Border Control: Securing borders to prevent infiltration of criminals and illicit goods.
    • Cybersecurity: Protecting against cyber threats and securing digital infrastructure.
    • Emergency Preparedness: Planning and responding to emergencies and crises.
Community Policing: Building trust and collaboration with the community.
  • Legal Framework: Enacting laws and ensuring due process and accountability.
External security deals with
  • Protecting country against threat from foreign country such as Terrorism, War etc. and geopolitical challenges
  • Comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Defence.

Components of External Security

  • Defense and Military: Building and maintaining a strong military force for defense against external threats.
  • Border Security: Securing national borders to prevent unauthorized entry and protect against incursions.
  • Diplomacy and Foreign Relations: Engaging in diplomatic efforts and building alliances to promote security interests.
  • Intelligence and Counterintelligence
  • Economic Security, Cybersecurity
  • Maritime Security: Protecting maritime interests and ensuring security in territorial waters and shipping lanes.
  • Intelligence Cooperation: Sharing intelligence and collaborating with foreign partners.
  • Non-Proliferation and Arms Control: Participating in efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and control arms trade.
  • Crisis Management and Peacekeeping: Contributing to international peacekeeping operations and crisis response efforts.

Difference Between Internal and External Security


Internal Security

External Security


Within the borders of a country or organization.

Originate outside the borders of a country or organization.

Entities Involved

Involve individuals, groups, or elements that are already present within the country or organization.

Involve individuals, groups, or elements that are based in or supported by foreign entities.


Internal threats often arise from domestic issues, including socio-political unrest, separatist movements, terrorism, organized crime, cyber threats originating from within the country, and communal or ethnic conflicts

External threats typically encompass issues such as cross-border terrorism, foreign military aggression, espionage, cyberattacks originating from foreign sources, economic warfare, and geopolitical tensions.


Impact the stability, law and order, and well-being of the country or organization's internal environment, its citizens, and its institutions.

Pose challenges to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interests, and external relations of a country or organization. They can have broader geopolitical implications and require diplomatic, military, and international cooperation to address effectively.

Objectives of Security

  • Acknowledging the supreme authority of the people. 
  • Safeguarding the independence and autonomy of India as a nation. 
  • Preserving the territorial boundaries and unity of India. 
  • Fostering India's ascendance to its deserved position in global matters. 
  • Guaranteeing a tranquil domestic environment within India. 
  • Establishing an environment for our citizens that is fair, inclusive, prosperous, and safeguards them from threats to their lives and livelihoods.

Major internal Security problems in India

  • Hinterland terrorism (Ex: 26/11 attack, Pathankot attack)
  • J&K Militancy and terrorism
  • Insurgency in North East (insurgencies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim)
  • Left Wing extremism (Naxalism)
  • Organised crimes and its nexus with terrorism (Ex: Money Laundering and Hawala)
  • Communalism (Ex: Gujarat communal riots, 2002)
  • Caste and ethnic tensions (Ex: 1980, Sikh Hindu conflict)
  • Regionalism and inter-state disputes (separate state of Andhra in 1954)
  • Cyber-crime and cyber security (Wannacry attack)
  • Border management
  • Coastal security (smuggling of goods, gold, narcotics, explosives, arms and ammunition as well as the infiltration of terrorists into the country through these coasts)

Major external Security problems in India

Troubled Neighbourhood – 

    • To its west, north and north east, India has unsettled borders with Pakistan & China that could be a flashpoint for future conflicts.
    • To its east there is a potential danger of refugee influx (Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal etc.)
To its south is the Indian Ocean that is becoming an arena for strategic rivalry and maritime security concern (piracy, trafficking, terrorism etc)

Conflicts in Other Countries – 

  • Highly volatile W. Asia with regional rivalries between major players – S. Arabia, Iran, Israel, Syria, US, Russia etc – impacting Energy security & Security of Diaspora.
  • Ukraine-Russia Crises – impact on Diaspora, inflation, post COVID economic recovery etc.
  • Militarization/Weaponization of Outer space – India upgraded its ability to neutralise potential threat to its space assets from long range missiles by launching anti-satellite missile under “Mission Shakti”. With this, India joins an exclusive group of space faring nations consisting of USA, Russia and China.

Challenges cross cutting Internal & External threats

  • Terrorism – by State & non state actors. Direct acts of terrorism aided and abetted by Pakistan, and China’s support to NE insurgent and extremist groups in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur etc.
    • Organized Crime – Drugs, human and weapon Trafficking, Money laundering, terror financing, fake notes etc.
  • Cyber security – Threat to critical infrastructure, privacy, data protection, and issues relating to fake news, rumour mongering, recruitment & radicalization of youth by nefarious organizations etc.

Factors responsible for Internal Security problems in India

Institutions to strengthen Internal Security

  • Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Intelligence Bureau
  • Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)
  • The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) 
  • National Investigation Agency (NIA)
  • The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC)
  • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)
  • Combating Financing of Terrorism Cell (CFT Cell)

Some of the important measures which need to be taken on a priority basis are

  • comprehensive National Security Doctrine for India must be defined so that there is no ambiguity even with a change in government.
  • dedicated North East Security Council should be constituted.
  • Army’s deployment in internal security duties should be for a limited period
  • Police forces must be revamped to strengthen their internal security management capabilities
  • The infrastructure and weaponry of the border guarding forces need to be upgraded.
  • Genuine grievances and aspirations of the border populations should not be kept in abeyance
  • Illegal migration should be curbed and the demographic balance must be maintained
  • Effective measures must be taken to root out corruption and proper utilization of funds allotted for development ensured.
  • Political processes should be revived wherever dormant and peace talks initiated or expedited, as the case may be, with insurgent groups without compromising national unity and integrity.

Government Initiative and policy Measures

    • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 (UAPA 2019): Also known as the "Anti-terror law", it has made it possible for the Union Government to designate individuals as terrorists without following any formal judicial process.
    • Modernization of State Police Forces Scheme: It is an Umbrella scheme of the central government in consonance with the states of the Republic of India, whereby funds are allocated to the state funds in order to revamp the structure and functioning of the police forces of states and union territories.
  • SAMADHAN Initiative: SAMADHAN stands for Smart leadership, Aggressive strategies, Motivation and training, Actionable Intelligence, Dashboard Based KPI and KRA, Harnessing Technologies, Action plan for each theatre, and No access to finance. It is an initiative based on a holistic and long-term strategy to fight against Left-wing extremism.
  • National Policy and Action Plan 2015: It is the holistic plan developed by the government which includes development, security, rights and entitlements of local communities in LWE affected areas.
  • NATGRID: It is an integrated database of various core security agencies to get easy access of criminal data and crime pattern to all agency for counter terrorism purpose.
  • Crime and Criminal tracking Network and System: It is an initiative under e-governance for creating a nationwide network of Police Stations for ease in investigation and data sharing between them. 
  • Indian computer emergency response team (CERT-In): It is a nodal agency established by the government of India to deal with various threats of cyber security.
  • National Critical information infrastructure protection centre: It is set up under IT Act 2000 for protection of critical information which is important for national security.

National security strategy/doctrine: Need & Challenges

National Security Doctrine (NSD) 

  • It is a stated principle of government policy which specifies the country’s vision, objectives and broad framework of the action to be taken to ensure the security of its people and territory against all kinds of crises. 
  • NSD encompasses the totality of a particular country’s military, diplomatic, economic and social policies that will protect and promote country’s national security interests. It helps the government to identify and prioritize the country’s geopolitical interests.
  • However, despite being affected by various internal & external security threats and terrorist attacks, India does not have any such ‘strategy/doctrine’ yet.
  • Most recently, the uncoordinated nature of the response to the Uri, Pathankot and Pulwama attacks has raised the debate on formulation on National Security Doctrine in India. 

Need for a National Security Doctrine (NSD)

  • Constitutional mandate - National Security is a subject in the Union List (7th schedule) of the Indian Constitution. This entry puts the constitutional obligation on the government to ensure the national security of its people. 
  • Removes Adhoc-ism - India has seen crisis after crisis resulting from militancy, insurgency, terrorist attacks, unsettled border disputes etc. For eg. terrorist attack on Pathankot air base, Uri & Pulwama attacks, 26/11 Mumbai blasts, insurgency in the Northeast etc. NSD would help India move from the current ‘adhoc responses’ to more practical and proactive approach in dealing with these security challenges.
  • Strategic approach - India is criticized as a country lacking a strategic mindset, a National Security doctrine would define the long term goals of our national security, thus, inculcating a strategic culture. 
  • Coordinated response & fixing of accountability - NSD will seek to eliminate the confusion around the responsibilities & accountability of various agencies in event of a security threat by establishing a cohesive command and control structure. For eg. Lack of clarity on command and control structure resulted in failure to quickly neutralize the terrorists in Pathankot attack.
  • Deterrence effect - It will also help in formulating a credible deterrent and effective response to state & non-state actors.
  • Consistent policies & approaches - It will help in maintaining consistency in country’s national security policy irrespective of which political party is in government. Changing positions on dealing with Pakistan, China, LWE, J&K insurgency has impacted India’s ability to effectively neutralize these threats.  
  • Global threats - As India’s needs and interests grow, India would have to protect its assets in far off parts of the world. NSD will provide a clear vision to ensure this.
  • Global profile - It will help in defining India’s role in the world and its commitment to protecting the life, liberty and interests of its people.


  • Building consensus among all security agencies: As was seen during Pathankot attack, there is no established hierarchy among security agencies. Hence, it may be difficult to build a consensus among them.
  • Political consensus: Similarly, it is difficult to build consensus among different political parties. For example, there is no common agreement on how to treat challenges from Pakistan and China.
  • Changing geo-political realities: In recent years, it is seen that geo-political realities are changing at much faster rate as compared to the past (for eg. relations with China post Galwan Valley border confrontation, Nepal on Kalpani dispute, Maldives after election of democratic government etc.). With change in regime, political alliances and alignment of the countries also change. Considering this, it is difficult to formulate NSD.

Conclusion: The issues with our internal security structure have arisen from both state and non-state actors with external origins. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen our diplomatic efforts and fortify our frontiers. We must also deal with the presence of covert non-state actors simultaneously. A thorough national internal security doctrine must be established in order to properly address these concerns.