Territorial border security of India is facing novel challenges. While some of them pertains to traditional border threats and challenges yet other pertain to exclusive use and abuse of information and communication technology (ICT) at the borders. Telecom infrastructure cyber vulnerabilities have further added to Indian woes. For instance, recently Huawei was accused of breaching national security of India by hacking base station controller in Andhra Pradesh.
As ICT is developing, it is also challenging the border security and management of India as well. The latest to add to this challenge is the problem faced by India due to broadcasts from Chinese territories.
The Hindustan Times has reported that along an extensive and ill-defined Indo-China border, from Ladakh in the north to Bihar in the east, Chinese radio and television fare streams freely into Indian homes, aiming to enhance China’s sphere of influence.
The crucial point here is that if something like this can happen for the simple reason of inadequate border telecom infrastructure what can be done to further the objects cyber terrorism, cyber espionage and cyber warfare.
In these circumstances, critical infrastructure protection in India needs a special focus. For instance, Huawei and ZTE are already in telecom security tangle and India is considering norms for import and testing of telecom equipments in India. ZTE was recently accused of assisting conducting of e-surveillance in Iran. The security agencies of India have even suggested use of indigenously made cyber security softwares.
For six hours every day, the Chinese broadcast a rich mix of multi-lingual news, political commentary, interviews, cultural programmes and even Mandarin language classes from across stations based in Nepal. In pockets with weak Indian signals, Indian listeners are warmly greeted by the Chinese radio, with its growing Nepali network. What is more worrisome is the proposal of Nepal to turn the country into a free wifi zone.
Amid China’s growing engagement with Nepal, the state-run China Radio International (CRI) three years ago acquired the “downlink” permission to rebroadcast its programmes across Nepal, with Nepali, Chinese and English content.
The CRI now has a Kathmandu bureau staffed by locals and its programmes are further relayed by more than 200 smaller Nepali FM stations into India with a “domino effect”. The programmes have alarmed India’s security establishment, prompting the information and broadcasting ministry to mount a technological upgrade of border broadcast infrastructure through Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcaster.
After several rounds of interministerial consultations, involving the home ministry and the National Security Adviser, among others, the information and broadcasting ministry has planned a Rs. 3,500-crore “Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development” fund for Prasar Bharati to ramp up border transmission facilities by state-owned Doordarshan and All India Radio.
The proposal, which has been cleared by the finance ministry and is being moved before the Cabinet, also aims to “counter terrorist activities” across the border. India aims to retain its clout with Nepal after the 2006 ouster of monarchy, a steadfast Indian ally, with free trade totalling nearly $2 billion (about Rs. 11,000 crore). China, jockeying for more influence, has more than doubled its annual aid from $22 million (about Rs. 121 crore) in 2009, mostly for infrastructure projects.