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1.1. Failures that led to the attack & subsequent consequences

  • One of the deadliest terror attacks to be staged on Indian soil, it exposed several lacunae in Indian security infrastructure, making it a ‘watershed’ moment in India’s internal security paradigm:

  • The perpetrators came by the sea-route and used a combination of tools (gun-fire, bombs and grenades) to unleash terror. It exposed India’s maritime security vulnerabilities, including absence of deep sea surveillance and malfunctioning coastal policing.

  • Highly sophisticated state of the art communications were used including Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), which Indian intelligence agencies were unable to intercept.

  • There was a complete failure of intelligence coordination. The tip-offs related to the visits of American-born Pakistani terrorist David Richard Headley to India by CIA were not adequately heeded to.

  • The response to the attack was also slow, despite fishermen reporting activities of armed strangers. Well-trained and better equipped terrorists took local police by surprise. Trained NSG & marine commandos took long to arrive, as there was no NSG hub near Mumbai.

  • In absence of defined crisis reportage protocols, live coverage by media channels and on social media helped terrorist handlers to communicate about presence of foreign national in the hotel as well as the impending security operations.

  • The attack of 26/11 was a case of ‘war by other means’, where one state’s resources (Pakistan), were employed and authorities (Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Pakistani armed forces etc) were directly involved to carry out terror attacks in a major Indian city. India’s lack of resolve to follow through & respond in an appropriate, adequate and timely manner against grave provocations (such as cross-border terror) failed to act as a strategic deterrent.

1.2. Improvements in security mechanism since 26/11

  • Coastal Security Preparedness: 3-layered protection of Indian coastal areas has been strengthened and responsibilities have been clearly delineated.

  • Indian Navy: Beyond 200 Nautical Miles (NM)

  • Indian Coast Guard: 12 to 200 NM

  • Marine Police: Up to 12NM from shore

  • Coastal Surveillance Network, comprising of static sensors along coasts, automatic identification systems (AIS), long range tracking, day-night cameras and communication devices has been put in place. Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) radars are installed on all major & minor ports to facilitate surveillance.

  • Commissioning of Information Management & Analysis Centre in Gurugram for easy collection and dissemination of shipping data for increased awareness.

  • Activities in maritime zones are now more regulated: (i) Multi-purpose ID issued to all fishermen, sea-ferrying services and coastal villages (ii) Uniform licensing of fishing boats (iii) GPS and transponders for tracking.

  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) now guards ports. Moreover, Sagar Prahari Bal was constituted as a special force from navy for protection of naval bases.

  • Operation Sagar Kavach was put in operation post 26/11 to improve coordination between security agencies including Indian Navy, Coast Guard and the local police.

1.3. Intelligence Overhaul:

  • National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) was constituted to link all governmental databases into create single source of comprehensive intelligence to be accessible to all agencies. It would allow agencies to scan & assess voluminous amount of collected information strategically and identify valuable intelligence leads.

  • Multi Agency Centres (MACs) under Intelligence Bureau were strengthened to act as intelligence “fusion-centres” and provide real time 24X7 actionable intelligence.

  • Indian Navy constituted Joint Operations Centre to keep vigil over India’s extended coastline.

  • National Investigation Agency was setup in 2008 as a specialized statutory agency to deal with terrorist offences, without requiring specific consent of the states to take up the cases. Special NIA courts were setup for fast-tracking cases related to terrorism.

  • The amended Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has given new powers to the security agencies, including the ability to hold terror suspects for 6 months without charges.

  • The deployment of the National Security Guard (NSG) has also been decentralized with 4 new operational hubs for the NSG to ensure rapid response to terror attacks.

  • Elite commando force called ‘Force One’ was instituted by Maharashtra government with specialized training in line with the National Security Guards (NSG), as per the recommendations of Ram Pradhan Committee.

1.4. Challenges remaining

  • Functional Challenges: According to CAG audit reports, under-utilization of acquired equipment, delays in creation of shore-based infrastructure, human resources shortages, unspent funds and red-tapism continue to plague the state of coastal policing along India’s shoreline.

  • Absence of an over-arching counter terror organisation: The government intention to create a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), as an umbrella organization with control over agencies like National Investigation Agency (NIA), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and National Security Guard (NSG), failed due to political opposition on grounds that it violates federal principle (law & order being state subjects)

  • Absence of Apex Maritime Authority: The National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) is at best an ad-hoc arrangement, lacking a statutory backing. The Coastal Security Bill to form a National Maritime Authority (NMA) is mired in red tape since 2013. Marine Police Stations, under state governments, are still not fully integrated in the coastal security chain.

  • Non-functional Integrated Intelligence Network: NATGRID is not in a functional stage, though some of its functionalities are being replicated by the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks & System (CCTNS), meant to seamlessly link India’s 15,000-plus police stations to allow for better information sharing (according to NCRB 14,749/15,655 police stations already connected)

  • Financial Constraints: CCTNS received no financial allocation for two consecutive budgets for 2014-15 and 2015-16, hampering the progress of the project. While CCTNS was designed to be used in conjunction with the e-prisons system, the integration has not been successful.

  • Lack of coordination between centre & states: National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also faced backlash from the states, which resist giving up their jurisdiction over policing

  • Challenges in traditional policing: The Mumbai attacks of 2008 and Pathankot airbase attack of 2016 indicate that the traditional style of policing is inadequate to deal with modern asymmetric threats from terrorism (lone wolf or remote controlled attacks) /cyber crimes. India’s low police-to-population ratio of about 180/100,000 is much lower than United Nations (UN) recommendations for peacetime policing (~250/100000). The police force being over-worked has huge bearing on their professional responsibilities, including counterterrorism duties.

  • Politicization of Terrorism: Partisan politics has led to religious polarization, which has made it difficult for the country to nurture a strong and coherent response to terrorism.

Way forward

  • To deal with such internal-security threats, the first responders, i.e. the police, need to have modern equipment and training. Basic training in the police forces must be improved. There is a need to post experienced and competent faculty members in these academies, as well as improve their infrastructure (library, classrooms, fields etc.)

  • Refresher courses must be introduced and implemented at all ranks, particularly constabulary, whose immediate response is consequential while dealing with terror attacks. Currently, <7% of police force has received in-service training in last 5 years (BPRD 2017)

  • Dealing with phenomena such as terrorism, insurgency, organized and cyber crime needs coordinated responses. Therefore, requisite institutional structure (e.g. NCTC) must be created.

  • There is an acute shortage of cyber specialists in state police and central paramilitary forces. Retaining domain expertise is not given priority while making appointments. This must be addressed.

  • The government must consider setting up a separate Ministry of Internal Security (MoIS).

  • The attacks of 26/11 not only provoked large-scale public outrage but also pushed the government to finally begin to address the deep-seated, systemic shortcomings in the country’s security apparatus. Post 26/11, it was accepted that the ability of terror groups to hit India in the hinterland will depend largely on whether Pakistan perceives us as a hard or soft state. There is a growing realization in Pakistan that public pressure in India will force any government to respond with force against a terror strike, irrespective of the consequences, as evident from surgical strikes after Uri attacks in 2017.

2. Submarine Completes Nuclear Triad

2.1. Significance of this event

  • With the completion of the patrol, India have finally achieved the longstanding ambition to have a nuclear triad, giving the country multiple options if it comes to a nuclear confrontation.


Nuclear Triad

  • A nuclear triad refers to the three components of atomic weapons delivery: strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

  • Of the three elements of the triad, the SLBMs are considered the most important because the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine is the hardest to detect, track and destroy.

  • A nuclear triad gives a country the ability to launch nukes from land, air and sea. This is important, because if a country initiates a nuclear attack, it cannot destroy all three components of the triad at once, and thus, the component which is intact can launch a retaliatory strike.

  • Uniqueness of each leg of Triad: According to Undersea Warfare, the Official Magazine of the US submarine force, each leg of the triad contributes unique attributes that enhance deterrence and reduce risk.

  • ICBMs provide a prompt response, the potential to launch under attack, and a hardened, geographically-

About INS Arihant:

  • In the late 1970s, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi sanctioned the submarine after the country's first nuclear test in 1974. Work on the submarine began in 1998, and its complete construction took nearly 11 years.

  • INS Arihant is a part of Indian Navy's secretive Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project operated under the supervision of the Prime Minister's Office and closely monitored by agencies such as the Department of Atomic Energy and the Submarine Design Group of the Directorate of Naval Design.

  • The INS Arihant was built at the Ship Building Centre at Visakhapatnam. Launched on 26 July, 2009, the submarine was commissioned in August 2016 after a series of extensive sea trials. 


Composition of INS Arihant

  • INS Arihant is a 6,000-tonne submarine powered by a 83 MW pressurised light water nuclear reactor.

  • INS Arihant is capable of carrying nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the class referred to as Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN).

  • The vessel will be able to carry 12 Sagarika K 15 submarine launched ballistic missiles that have a range of 750 km. It can also be armed with four K-4 submarine launched ballistic missile with a range of 3,500 km.

  • There is also provision to launch non-nuclear tipped BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as well as the 1,000-km sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay, which can be configured for both nuclear and non-nuclear warheads.


Dispersed Target Base.

  • o Strategic bombers provide great flexibility in force posturing, signalling intentions, route planning, and recall-ability.

  • o Missile submarines provide survivable, assured response and the mobility to adapt missile over-flight to targets.

Why India needs a Nuclear Triad?

  • India’s ‘No first use’ nuclear policy (NFU) talks of minimum credible deterrence. Minimum credible deterrence capability would, however, require India to possess the critical capabilities to ensure the survivability of its nuclear weapons even after a first strike against it. NFU, therefore, casts a responsibility on the nation to achieve a second strike capability. A second strike capability can only be imparted by a Triad.

  • India has two nuclear-armed countries (China and Pakistan) on both its eastern and western fronts which makes it particularly imperative for the country to possess adequate deterrence.

  • The absence of INS Arihant came to attention during the Doka La standoff with China, when Beijing had flexed muscle in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean Region, crucial for India's strategic interests, has in general been witnessing an increasing presence of Chinese ships and submarines.

  • Chinese String of Pearls and Maritime Silk Road are attempting to create a Chinese monopoly in the Indian Ocean Region while encircling India from Myanmar to West Asia and Eastern Africa.

  • Pakistan last year tested its submarine-launched Babur missile, and in the process completed its nuclear triad, since it already possesses land-based ballistic missiles as well as tactical nuclear bombs that it can drop from its fighter aircraft.

  • India now joins the elite squad of countries like Russia, China, France, the US and the UK that possess nuclear-powered submarines. It is the first SSBN (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear) to have been built by a country other than one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

What Next?

  • More requirement of SSBN: According to the US Navy Institute, a continuous patrol requires a minimum of four SSBNs. This assumes one submarine is on patrol for, say, two to three months; another is in port on standby; while the third and fourth may be undergoing repairs or refits. In this context India needs to speed up its Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to ensure timely delivery of SSBNs.

  • Complementary fleet to SSBN: India will require a complementary fleet of ship submersible nuclear (SSN) submarines - these are fast, hunter killer subs that will be required to detect and track Chinese and Pakistani undersea activity and warships. The Indian Navy plans to acquire as many as six SSNs, and discussions are on with shipbuilders from France and the US for participating in the project.

  • Nuclear Submarine Base: The Indian Navy has commenced Project Varsha - the construction of a massive nuclear submarine base south of Visakhapatnam. The base will house India's SSBN fleet. The first phase of the project will be completed by 2022. Its timely completion is crucial for India's Oceanic leg of Nuclear Triad.

  • Enhance the range of Missiles: The Arihant is equipped to carry twelve K-15 ballistic nuclear missiles with an abysmally short range of 750 km. This means before launching its missiles, the sub will have to venture close to enemy waters, endangering its own security. A 3,500 km range missile named the K-4 is currently in development. Apart from this, DRDO is also developing 5,000-km range K-5 and 6,000-km range K-6 which would add more teeth to the arsenal.

November Internal Security Threats

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