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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Discuss the factors giving rise to recurring internal security threats in Northeast India? (150 words)

    10 May, 2023 GS Paper 3 Internal Security


    • Start your answer with a brief introduction of challenges to internal security in Northeast India with reference to recent context.
    • Discuss the factors contributing to these challenges.
    • Conclude with way forward approach.


    Northeast India, comprising of eight states, has been grappling with internal security challenges for several decades. The region has witnessed a range of issues, including insurgency, ethnic conflicts, economic marginalization, and cross-border infiltration.

    Recent events of ethnic violence in Manipur between Kukis, Nagas and Meities have once again brought the issue in light.


    In this context, the factors contributing to internal security challenges in Northeast India are discussed below.

    • Historical Factors:
      • The region has been a melting pot of various tribes, kingdoms, and empires over the centuries. The complex interplay of historical factors, such as colonization, border disputes, and demographic changes, has contributed to internal security challenges in the region.
      • The imposition of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system by the British has also led to ethnic tensions and conflicts.
    • Ethnic Diversity:
      • The Northeast It is home to around 40 million people including 213 of the 635 tribal groups listed by the Anthropological Survey of India. These tribes have distinct culture and languages.
      • The ethnic diversity has led to the formation of numerous insurgent groups representing the interests of their respective communities. These groups have been involved in armed struggle against the state, leading to violence, displacement, and human rights violations.
        • For instance, ULFA in Assam, NSCN in Nagaland are few of the insurgent groups active in Northeast region.
    • Border Issues:
      • Northeast India shares borders with several countries, including China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. The porous borders have made it vulnerable to cross-border infiltration and smuggling of arms, drugs, and contraband.
        • NE region is geographically located adjacent to opium producing region of Golden triangle (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos)
      • The border disputes with neighbouring countries have also led to tensions and conflicts, particularly with China and Bangladesh.
    • Economic Marginalization:
      • Northeast India is considered as one of the economically backward regions in India. The region has a low per capita income, inadequate infrastructure, and limited job opportunities.
      • The economic marginalization has led to youth unemployment and poverty, making them vulnerable to recruitment by insurgent groups.
    • Natural Resource Exploitation:
      • Northeast India is endowed with rich natural resources, including oil, gas, coal, and minerals. The exploitation of these resources has led to environmental degradation and displacement of local communities.
      • The displacement has led to resentment among the local communities and has provided a fertile ground for the growth of insurgent groups.
    • Isolation and Relative Deprivation:
      • The Northeast region's distance from New Delhi and limited representation in the Lok Sabha have resulted in a reduced voice of the people being heard in the corridors of power.
      • This has led to increased disillusionment in the dialogue process and has made the use of violence more appealing, making insurgency a more attractive option.
    • External State and Non-state Actors:
      • The insurgencies in the NEI have been supported by erstwhile East Pakistan in the late 1950s; and in early 1960s, in the form of training of personnel of Naga Army and giving them weapons.
      • Later, China also provided weapons and support to insurgents and Maoists.

    Way forward

    • The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should be gradually lifted from areas showing improved situation.
    • Continued Efforts by Civil Society: Notwithstanding the progress in peace talks, efforts by the civil society for rapprochement with the insurgent organisations must continue. This enables a respectable way out for the insurgent leaders and leads to a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.
    • Clear demarcation of borders between states should be there to avoid conflicts between different ethnic groups of these states.
      • For example. Assam-Meghalaya and Assam- Arunachal Pradesh boundary agreement.
    • Strengthening Security on Borders to avoid infiltration, money laundering, arms trafficking.
    • A holistic approach is required to address these issues, including political dialogue, economic development, and environmental sustainability. Three pronged strategy of Defense, Dialogue and Development is key for peace and security of North East region.

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