What is terrorism?
In the most comprehensive sense, terrorism is an intentional use of indiscriminate violence as a mechanism to create terror or fear in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological objective. Terrorism is a form of asymmetric warfare. It is the use of violence against innocent civilians or non-combatants. The word terrorism has gained popularity following the attacks on the World Trade Centers New York in September 2001 also referred to as the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
History of terrorism
The nuisance of terrorism is as old as the Roman Empire. The roots and practice of terrorism can be traced back at least to the first century AD. The word terrorism itself was used for the first time to describe the acts of the Jacobin Club during the reign of terror in the French Revolution.
Types of terrorism
It is pursued in order to achieve such clearly stated foreign policy objectives. Massive-scale state-sponsored terrorism reemerged in international politics in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, along with religious terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism has greatly altered the design of terrorist attacks around the world. Since its independence, India has been having the same problems from Pakistan.
Ideology-oriented terrorism is typically categorized into two: left-wing and right-wing terrorism.
It is violence against the ruling class, mostly by the lower classes, motivated by leftist ideology. These include the Red Army faction or the Baader Meinhof Gang in former West Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Maoist groups in India and Nepal.
Right-wing groups tend to seek to protect the status quo or to return to some past situation that they feel should have been preserved. Examples of this include: fascism in Italy, nazism in Germany, white supremacist movements in the USA known as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
Terrorist groups are notably motivated by religion. Religious terrorism is more destructive in nature. These groups are motivated either in whole or in part by a religious imperative that considers violence as a sacred duty. The theology of ISIS is in accordance with the Wahabi theological ideology.
Terrorist activities are used to aid in crime and criminal profit. For instance, in narco-terrorism, narcotics traffickers attempt to influence the policies of the Government by systematic threat or use by violence.
It is deliberate violence by a subnational ethnic group to advance its cause. Such violence usually focuses either on the creation of a separate state or on the elevation of the status of one ethnic group over others. Tamil Nationalist groups in Sri Lanka, insurgent groups in North East India, and the Khalistan movement are examples of ethnonationalism terrorist activities.
Reasons behind the terrorism
There are many reasons which make people or a group terrorist. Those reasons are political, religious, poverty, and lack of education.
The main cause of terrorism is perceived socio-political or historical injustice and a belief that violence will lead to change. People who choose this path when they have been stripped off their land or rights are denied the same. Examples- Hamas group of Palestine, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ( LTTE), Maoists and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)
Terrorist groups use a specific religious ideology to inspire people to join terrorist groups. For example, ISIS and Al-Qaeda use Islamic ideology making people follow them.
Many people who join terrorist groups are illiterate and poor. Terrorism can spread like a virus in vulnerable and marginalized communities. These people can easily be pursued by terrorism groups.
A lack of employment and unequal growth encourages unemployed youth to indulge in criminal acts and narcotics.
However, the above arguments are partially true. Of the 9/11 conspirators, eight were engineers by education. Osama bin Laden’s father owned the largest construction company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. So, terrorism is not always a result of illiteracy and poverty.
Because of the increasing population and decreasing resources, intolerance is growing in society. Increasing globalization of the society come to transcend national boundaries spreading terrorism.
The ineffective anti-terrorism legislation and misplaced judicial activism are somehow also responsible for growing terrorism.
There are structural inadequacies in the state apparatus namely weaknesses in the intelligence structure -human as well as technical, inadequate modernization of police paramilitary forces and the Armed Forces, unimaginative media management and coverage, reactive response, and slow government decision-making lack of clear strategy and policy on internal security.
In the Indian context, the reasons over the past few years have been numerous. Our consolidation as a secular, federal, and democratic state is still evolving and the fundamentalist forces often exploit a diversity of our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2019
This report is annually released by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace. As per this report, India as the seventh-worst terrorism affected the country. Jammu & Kashmir is India’s most affected region by terrorism in 2018. Most of these attacks were perpetrated by the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). 8,437 Indians have lost their lives since 2001 at the hands of terrorists.
Why is India a victim of terror?
India is suffering from ethno-nationalist, religious, left-wing, and narco-terrorism. Some well-known examples of terrorist activities in India are Mumbai attacks of 26/11, 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, attack on Akshardham temple in 2002, Mumbai train blasts 2006, Parliament attacks of 2001 attacks on Armed Forces camps in Pathankot and Uri.
India is geographically located between Asia’s two principal areas of illicit opium production -the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle. This leads to a heavy influx of drugs and arms.
Pakistan and China
India has a hostile neighbor in the form of Pakistan with a land border of 3,400 kilometers. Pakistan sponsors state terrorism and fundamentalist forces, particularly through its inter-services intelligence, also known as ISI.
Also, India has unresolved border issues with China. And China has active military and nuclear cooperation with Pakistan.
India shares a contiguous and porous border with smaller SAARC nations such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. Accompanying problems such as illegal migration and smuggling in the border belt and resulting social tensions create a conducive environment for terrorism.
India has a long sea border of more than seven thousand kilometers prone to pirating and smuggling. During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, terrorists had used sea routes to enter the country.
Impact of terrorism
According to ourworldindata.org, over the past decade, terrorists killed an average of 21,000 people worldwide each year. Terrorism accounted for 0.05% of global deaths in 2017.
Schools have been bombed and burned in Gaza, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, and elsewhere across the world in the last decade. Teachers were killed, and students were recruited as child soldiers.
Terrorism affects FDI in many ways. Terrorism leads to insecurity and uncertainty in the country. This causes a lack of trust in foreign investors, forcing them to divert their resources from the host country to other, peaceful countries. Costly security measures decrease the returns on FDI. Terrorism also harms local infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, and communications. It prohibits foreign investment by raising the costs of doing business.
Terrorism also reduces domestic investment as it becomes difficult for domestic investors to invest in a panic-ridden environment. In addition, public investment is also severely damaged as government projects such as roads, highways, canals, dams, bridges, highways, hospitals, and school construction also brought to an end in the presence of terrorist activities.
Tourists usually avoid visiting the city that has been attacked. For tourism-dependent economies, terrorist attacks can hit even harder.
A recent example is Sri Lanka (Easter bombing). Sri Lanka has made significant progress thanks to a tourism boom post 25-year civil war ended. However, the Easter bombing changed the picture. Among those killed in bombings were 45 foreigners. Tourists fled: the number of arrivals dropped. For several days following the attack, many businesses remained closed. A huge share of jobs was lost in the tourism sector.
Similarly, in Kashmir, tourism is the biggest source of livelihood in the state. But, terrorism ruined the tourism industry. The owners of hotels, guest houses, and houseboats, whose business is entirely dependent on the influx of tourists, suffer huge economic losses. By threatening visitors from visiting Kashmir, the terrorists are strangling a major source of jobs and making those who have become unemployed potential recruits to Pakistan-inspired separatism by violence.
Terrorist attacks also increase defense and security spending and this reduces economic growth. If the cost of terror decreases, more money could be allocated to spending on infrastructure and that would lead to higher growth.
Steps already taken to combat and end terrorism
India has already achieved progress on various institutional and legislative mechanisms aimed at combating terrorism.
After the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, a national investigation agency also known as the NIA was formed to counter terrorist acts in the future.
The National Intelligence Grid also known as NATGRID is an integrated intelligence grid. It will link the databases of several departments and ministries of the government of India. NATGRID aims to gather detailed intelligence patterns that intelligence agencies can readily access. It collects and collates a variety of data from government databases such as tax and bank account information, credit card activity, visa and immigration records, and itineraries of train and air travel.
India has a multi-agency center also known as MAC for counterterrorism with a mandate of sharing terrorism-related intelligence inputs on a day-to-day basis.
Various legal frameworks are created such as the Terrorist And Disruptive Activities Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002, along with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the NIA Act of 2008.
How to overcome terrorism?
From the understanding of the nature of international terrorism that we are facing today, it is clear that a long term strategy is required to fight against terrorism. It has to be comprehensive on all fronts.
The strategy needs to be evolved to protect core values. These core values are to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity, to consolidate as a secular, federal, democratic state with freedom of speech, equality, and justice, to promote socio-economic growth and development.
Socially, India must continue to promote liberal and secular polity by media, intelligentsia, and religious institutions.
There is a need to develop all regions more evenly throughout the country with greater development effort in the remote weaker sections of the society. Economic empowerment of the poor especially in areas like J&K and the Naxal belts would automatically drive out the extremist elements and their ideologies would be abandoned.
Education is the antidote against terrorism. Education provides the confidence and analytical skills youngsters need to condemn hatred and violence. We must teach values of peace, non-violence, fraternity. So, no one will be able to brainwash young minds.
Also, there is a tendency to brand students from madrasas as terrorists. This further, alienate Indian madrasas. There is an urgent need to de-stigmatize madrasas as a breeding ground for terrorism and address the outdated education system in the Madrasahs by modernization.
Upgrading communication systems
There is also a need to develop our communication networks so that television and telecommunication can spread to remote and border areas which are currently under the constant reach of Pakistani propaganda.
India should clearly spell out a counterterrorism doctrine. This should address the causes and not the symptoms alone. The aim of military operations is to create a secure and suitable environment so that social, economic, and political issues can be addressed effectively.
Effective border surveillance and management is also required to check infiltration. This should be achieved through technical means of surveillance backed by highly mobile specialized forces the other than the present system which is manpower intensive.
Foreign-based terrorists must be targeted at the bases, training camps, and sanctuaries to end the surrogate terrorism or the proxy wars.
India must leverage its improved ties with the first world countries. Platforms of multinational bodies like the UN, G20, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization should be utilized to further India’s agenda of anti-terrorism.
International terrorism can not be confronted alone successfully as has been our experience so far. All nations must join hands to combat it. Countries have to cooperate by intelligence exchange, joint operations, and investigations.
Pakistan sponsored proxy war
It must be further exposed and international pressure should be applied. We have to convey more vigorously the justness of our cause and Pakistan’s support for terrorism by both state and non-state actors, as well as trying to isolate Pakistan within the international community. A strong message must be conveyed to Pakistan.
Lessons from other nations
We have to learn from the experiences of other nations. However, at the same time, we need to realize clearly that a situation is particular to us and there are no direct lessons to learn except a revaluation of our own experience.
A strategy must be pragmatic and cannot be similar to the US model of global capacity or the Israeli strategy of massive and immediate retaliation, as the respective environment and capabilities are different.
Dr. Salman Farsi was said to have been involved in the Malegaon blasts. He was acquitted eight years later. By this time, he had nothing to fall back upon. He is a qualified Unani doctor. But, he even took to rearing goats to meet his needs. These outcomes can be easily avoided. The media, instead of calling each accused a terrorist, may perhaps restrict itself to calling them only an accused, and avoid displaying their photographs as if they have been convicted.
There is a need to adopt proactive policies to confront the terrorists at the roots of the ideology of fundamentalists social evils and sources of terror funding like narcotics and drug trade.
India also needs to strengthen its anti-terrorism laws. There is a need to modernize and enlarge intelligence networks, State Police and paramilitary forces in training equipment and ethos.
There should be enough preventive measures against nuclear biological and chemical attacks as well as cyber terrorism.
This unconventional war can not be won by conventional methods. It can only be won by showing that our values are stronger, better, fairer, and more humane than the alternative. The values that will rule the future of humanity are those of peace, tolerance, liberty, respect for diversity, and not those of reaction, discord, and hatred.
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