Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

  • India has been facing challenges on the front of internal security since independence from various state and non-state actors.
  • External State actors refer to those entities which have formal backing of a sovereign state for carrying out any intended action.
  • Non state actors on the other hand, have a considerable power of influencing international events but they do not have formal state backing.
  • Examples of state actors are the army, bureaucracy, intelligence agencies etc. whereas non state

actors would be NGOs, civil society organizations, extremist outfits, multinational companies etc.

External State actors are responsible for posing a challenge to internal security in multiple ways:

  • Countries surrounding India have been active in exploiting the volatile situation presented by the turmoil in the northeast. Not only countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, but also smaller powers such as Bhutan and Nepal have been involved in the region.
  • Through political backing, economic assistance, logistic support, military training or arms supplies these countries have varyingly contributed to the ongoing violence in this region. The state may carry out a limited war against Indian state and this might have ramifications for our internal security too.
  • They might support the various insurgent groups, Naxalites, or separatist groups through funding, training or logistics.
  • There have been instances where state actors have been responsible for carrying out cyber warfare through hacking and other espionage.

Non state actors however have played their nefarious role too in creating problems for India:

  • Insurgency:
    • North-East suffers from violent movements based upon ethnic identities leading to clashes. China is alleged to support such acts for instance. United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) members of Assam were given shelter by China.
  • Terrorism:
    • Pakistan has been a major exporter of terrorism to India. Non-state actors like terrorist groups for instance Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad are a continuous threat.
    • Non state actor -sponsored terrorism, often motivated by fundamentalist ideologies, backed by secretive but efficient financial networks, use of IT, clandestine access to chemical-biological and nuclear materials, and illicit drug trafficking, has emerged as a major threat to international stability.
    • These groups aim to not only create instability in states like J&K, they also have a larger aim of destabilising the country. This is done through sporadic terrorist strikes, which spreads terror and panic. This could also adversely affect the ability of the Indian state to pursue economic modernisation.
  • Naxalism:
    • Left wing extremism affects states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Drug trafficking:
    • Inter and Intra state trafficking takes place, through golden crescent and golden triangle routes.
    • Drugs from Golden Crescent (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) have affected Punjab and Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) has affected North Eastern states.
  • Human-trafficking:
    • Children and women trafficking takes place via Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • Counterfeit currency:
    • It corrodes economy from inside, by facilitating black money and money laundering activities as well as funding terrorism, which itself creates a demand for fake currency, thereby creating a positive feedback loop. This is the issue arising especially from Pakistan.
  • Communalism:
    • Propagandas are run and funded by enemy country and other non-state actors (NGOs and CSOs) to destabilize India by damaging the socio-religious fabric and ensure riots.
  • Cyber Security:
    • Recent cyber-attacks by Legion, ATM skimming are examples. Pakistani hackers often hack government websites.
    • They can also incite people for regionalism thus demanding their separate state which further increases secessionist tendency.


Both state and non-state factors from outside have created problems in our internal security framework. Hence while it is imperative to guard our borders and strengthen our diplomacy, on the other hand, we need to check the various non state actors who come in hidden forms. There is a need for a national internal security doctrine to deal with various challenges.