Country Listing

India Table of Contents


Public Order and Internal Security

Military Role Expansion

The army has four major roles or functions in the maintenance of public order and internal security. One is to defend India's territorial integrity and to maintain the inviolability of its borders. Another involves dealing with internal security threats stemming from secessionist demands and externally supported insurgencies. The army also is called upon to assist civilian authorities in maintaining civil order when local police forces and the paramilitary prove inadequate to the task. Finally, the army can also be mobilized to deal with natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, the only domestic function that the army performs with enthusiasm.

Despite the existence of numerous paramilitary forces, the army has had to quell outbreaks of civil violence, primarily in the states of Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab (see Paramilitary Forces and Reserve Forces, this ch.). By the early 1990s, army involvement in Assam and Punjab had diminished significantly as insurgencies waned. However, the role of the army in Jammu and Kashmir expanded substantially as both police and paramilitary forces failed to maintain law and order.

In 1993 upper-echelon army officers warned that excessive use of the army to restore civil order might have a number of corrosive effects. First, it might damage the morale of troops who might be distressed at having to shoot civilians. Second, it might have the effect of politicizing the army. The outgoing chief of army staff, General Sunith Francis Rodrigues, publicly articulated his misgivings on this subject. Furthermore, in June 1993, Rodrigues presented a report entitled "Maximizing Effectiveness of Central Police Organizations" to the Committee of Secretaries (composed of a "core group", the secretaries of defence, finance, and home affair, chaired by the cabinet secretary, and meeting on a weekly basis). The report called for the army to take over the training of paramilitary forces.

Data as of September 1995