New threats to security A coordinated, holistic approach can tackle them

EVEN as India grapples with diverse external and internal threats to its security, including a militarily assertive China and heightened Pakistan army-ISI activism on the LoC, many new challenges are emerging on the national security horizon. These are diverse in nature and could assume unmanageable proportions if left unaddressed.
The likelihood of mass migrations into India, for example from Bangladesh and Nepal, are a serious future threat as these will upset the prevailing social order. The demography of lower Assam has already changed considerably. Mass migrations will also threaten the existing food reserves and endanger food security. The nation will find it extremely difficult to cope with future failures of the monsoon and the consequent famine-like conditions that will prevail. The issue of illegal migration and the security threat posed by it has been repeatedly raised by various states sharing international borders with neighbouring countries during successive Chief Ministers' conferences on internal security and law and order.
The proliferation of small arm or light weapons in the southern Asian region has created its own dynamics of generating terror and instability. Small arms enter India from Afghanistan and Pakistan through ISI sponsorship and from the surpluses available in South East Asia, which are purchased at low cost by various insurgent outfits. Unless a concerted international effort is launched in conjunction with friendly foreign countries, the menace from small arms will continue to grow at alarming rates.
Increasing demands for electric power to meet the requirements of industry and the growing population will make energy security a primary concern. Energy security will be particularly important in future as fossil fuels will become more and more inadequate for the nation's increasing energy needs. Domestic oil production has been declining while the demand has been rising steadily. Hence, oil will continue to be a strategic resource and the security of India's oil supplies from abroad as well as that of all oil reserves and installations will need to be ensured.
The ravages of global warming and changing monsoon patterns as well as the diversion of the waters of rivers feeding the Ganges and the Brahmaputra by upper riparian states are likely to deplete India's water sources and threaten water security even as the increasing population, rapid industrialisation and the enhanced requirements of irrigation raise the demand for water. 
The Energy Research Institute (TERI) has estimated that the demand for water will almost double from 564 billion cubic metres (bcum) in 1997 to 1,048 bcum in 2047. M S Menon has written: "As the population is expected to reach 1,300 million in the year 2025, the present slow progress in developing and maintaining the water resources of the country will lead to alarming situations if ameliorative actions on policy and institutional reforms are not taken now on a war-footing." 
The situation will be further exacerbated when the Himalayan nation-states begin drawing more water for their own consumption. The amicable sharing of the Ganges waters by India, Bangladesh and Nepal has already been posing problems. Successive droughts have ravaged some of India's western states between 1999 and 2000 and groundwater levels are known to have fallen to extremely low levels. Pakistan is extremely unhappy with India's dam construction activities on the Chenab and the Jhelum and future plans for the diversion of waters of the Kishanganga river into the Wullar Lake. Pakistan has repeatedly sought the intervention of the World Bank that is the official adjudicator for disputes relating to the Indus Waters Treaty. Clearly, the future possibility of water wars on the Indian sub-continent cannot be ruled out. 
Information warfare is another emerging threat through which, besides nation-states, non-state actors, individual terrorists and even disgruntled elements within a state can play havoc with a nation's telecom, banking, stock exchanges, power grids, railways and air traffic control infrastructure as well as military communications and networks. The prevention of large-scale damage through a complex cyber-security system requires an inter-departmental approach in concert with industry and private entrepreneurs and can only be undertaken by a duly empowered organisation. While some progress has been made in protecting India's critical infrastructure, a great deal more needs to be done.
The threats to India's maritime security are increasing exponentially as the world turns more and more towards the exploitation of ocean resources for food, energy and raw materials. This long-neglected aspect needs to be incorporated in the management of national security so that India's ocean resources in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are not poached at will by state and non-state actors. Oil platforms and drilling rigs for oil and gas exploration face a threat from marine terrorists. Increasing piracy at sea and the possible use of India's island territories by terrorist organisations and by smugglers for trade in contraband goods are other serious maritime threats. The security of India's island territories has now acquired added significance.
The preservation of the ecological balance is another emerging challenge. The continuing increase in the population will threaten the remaining forest resources as the area of cultivable land comes under pressure. Also, over-exploitation of the oceans may upset the delicate marine balance. The increasing consumption of fossil fuels will add to global warming. A brown haze is already hanging over Southern Asia and it is now being accepted that it is directly related to environmental pollution. In future, the Indian government will have to increasingly plan for the security concerns of the vast Indian diaspora, particularly the migrant Indian population employed on temporary work permits in the Gulf countries. 
Still newer challenges that are emerging include those from fake currency notes, organised crime and narco-terrorism. India is flanked by two of the most notorious narcotics producing regions in the world - the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; annual production approximately 2,500 tonnes) on the west and the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand; 1,500 tonnes) on the east. All of these challenges need to be addressed in a coordinated, holistic manner at the national level in conjunction with the state governments.
The writer is a Delhi-based strategic analyst.