What is Golden Crescent And Golden Triangle, How it Has Been A Threat To India's Internal Security
Cross border drug trafficking is one of the greatest threats to India's internal security. According to the reports of the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), India is a major hub of illicit drug trade.
India's land border extends around 15,106 km sharing its border with Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Varied terrain, climatic conditions, hostile labors make the borders complex that further make the border management a major part of the border security. India faces many internal security threats such as naxalism, armed insurgency, money laundering, terrorism, illicit cross border drug trafficking being the major threat. Most of India's land border is porous which means that in many places the physical border is missing. Moreover, India's geographical location is such that it is squeezed between the fulcrum of opium- the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. Because of these two factors, India becomes the most vulnerable to various illegal activities. This is not only an issue of national threat but also a threat to India's fragile society and political stability.
Here, we have discuss to where the region of Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle has extended, how these regions have become a big threat for India and how India has nullified this threat by taking major steps.
The Golden Crescent is the illicit opium production area located in the intersection of Central, South and West Asia. This region overlaps three countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. According to UNODC, Afghanistan is the producer of nearly 90% of the non-pharmaceutical grade opium. Apart from producing opium, the country is also the world's largest producer of hashes. Not only in India and Russia, this region also supplies opium to Iran, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria through the Balkan route.
When we talk about Golden Triangle, it is also an opium producing area that is located in the intersection of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar in the South-east Asia. This region is next to Afghanistan in opium production. Myanmar is the second largest opium producer in the world. According to UNODC, in 2006, the region-Golden Triangle was the largest opium producer but recently it has become famous for producing artificial drugs. This region, illegally export tablets to East and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and India.
UNODC reports that there are several reasons for this illegal trade such as corruption, poverty, and lack of effective government control.
What are the Challenges of Golden Crescent/Golden Triangle to India National Security?
India has traditionally been the land of natural drugs such as opium. But since 2006, the consumption of synthetic drugs has increased as compared to natural drugs. Along with this, India has also become the hub for precursor chemicals-used for preparing synthetic drugs. Chemical such as Ketamine, codeine, Acetic anhydride etc. are use to prepare heroin.
Other than factors such as difficult terrain, easy availability, and ineffective border management, the widespread poverty has also pushed people in to illicit drugs trade. In India, poverty is one of the main reasons that have pushed people into illegal drug trafficking for earning easy money.
How these regions has become a major threat to India's national security?
According to reports narcotics and drug trafficking is done through two-way movement. This means that the drug traffickers use the same routes to smuggle drugs, which are used by terrorists to smuggle weapons. This was evident from the probe in Mumbai serial bomb blast in 1993. Dawood Ibrahim’s group used the international drug route to import arms and explosives in India and accomplished the 1993 blast. Again, the investigation for the 31 December 2015, Pathankot attack also revealed that the ISI terrorists came through the same route.
The nexus among the drugs traffickers, criminal networks and terrorists facilitates the drug trafficking in India and also threatens her national security.
It has been seen that terrorists with the help of criminal network have regularly imported arms and ammunition in India. Using the same syndicate, Dawood Company has helped to infiltrate the Islamic terrorist group in India.
Money generated from the illicit trade of narcotics is often used to finance the terrorist activities and armed insurgency. In the northeast, small insurgent organizations raise funds by selling drugs instantly whereas the big insurgent groups demand money from the drug peddlers for safe passage.
The easy availability of narcotics is also associated with the deteriorated law and order conditions and social disharmony.
The narcotics trade drains off state's precious financial resources which otherwise could have been used for the developmental purposes.
Government's focus changes from the enhancement of the social capital tio the care and rehabilitation towards the drug addicts.
Drug trafficking also threaten the country's political stability.
Drug trafficking also leads to corruption
Northeastern states of India have now become the hub of HIB Aids due to easy availability of narcotics and consumption of drugs.
Measures taken to tackle these challenges
1. Stringent domestic legislations: India has enacted stringent Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, that prohibits production, possession, sale, purchase, transport, storage and consumption of drugs.
Major steps taken under this Act-
Formation of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) under the NDPS Act, 1985. It acts as a nodal agency, which coordinate with states to enforce drug laws.
There is a provision of imprisonment from 1 year up to 20 years for the various scheduled offences under the NDPS Act.
2. Border Management: India has taken measures to manage borders more efficiently. Electronic Border Surveillance Project has been launched at India-Bangladesh border. Microwave communication, optical fiber cable, surveillance cameras, digital mobile fiber has been utilized under this project. These modern gadgets will capture the illegal border movements and inform the border security forces which with the help of the immediate response team will manage to halt the illegal movement.
The system of virtual fence or smart fence using infrared and laser-based alarm system has also been installed at India- Pakistan border
3. India has signed many bilateral agreements with the neighboring countries to prevent the drug trafficking and to coordinate on these security threats.
India has also signed all the three major international UN Conventions on prevention of drug trade- Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1962, 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic substances, and 1988- UN Convention against illicit trafficking of Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic substances.
4. Voluntary organizations: India Government is working with various NGO for providing care and rehabilitation to the drug addicts.
However, the illegal drug trafficking remains as a major threat till date due to various reasons. The lack of inter-agency coordination, corruption, intelligence failure, lack of adequate manpower and infrastructure, procedural delay etc has reduced the efficacy of the government measures. It is high time now that Indian Government should take strict measures to reduce cross border drug trafficking.