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Indo-Africa Narcotics Ties

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  • January 29, 2010
    Fellows' Seminar
    Only by Invitation
    1030 to 1300 hrs

    During the Cold War, there was a complete focus on the military competition because these two things projected as power and increase security of the states. Given the evolving nature of conflict however, this no longer holds true. New “soft” threats pose bigger hazards to human beings today. There has been a need to redefine classical security paradigms along the lines of new threats such as internal conflicts, money laundering, human rights, trafficking, illicit drugs trade, etc.

    One of the non-traditional security threats is the menace of Narcotics Trafficking (NT) and organized transnational crime (OTC). NT today is a problem that exists at the national and at the international level. The narcotics trafficking business is the second largest industry in the world valued at approximately $500 billion in 1994 and approximately $322 billion in 2007, following the arms sales business only. Production and refining of drugs and the consumption of these drugs almost inevitably happens in two different areas, so narcotics trade is inherently suited to be a transnational crime. In some instances, narco-trafficking tends to harm the state because money laundered indirectly or directly makes its way into fuelling separatist groups, insurgents, and terrorists, thus permitting non-state actors to take on the state. Despite this, many states tend to view narcotics as a domestic or internal security matter.

    India is uniquely placed in the global illicit drugs trade, sandwiched between the “Golden Triangle” of the North-East and the “Golden Crescent” of the North-West. India is also used as a transit point for drugs from South and South-East Asia onwards to Europe. The profitability of the drugs trade has been made possible by the fact that India is surrounded by weak states with endemic corruption. India’s own security has become intrinsically tied to the strength of states not only within its immediate neighborhood but also at a distance.

    Presently, India is not only an exporter of locally grown and/or manufactured drugs, it is also on the receiving end and serves as a major transit hub in the global narcotics network. India’s connections with Africa, as well as Africans operating in the rest of the South Asian region, have single-handedly emerged as one of the gravest and most complex “invisible” security dilemmas. In India alone, hundreds of Africans are languishing in prisons around the country on drug related offenses. An average of one ton of heroine alone is seized every year all over India. Pockets of African communities in Goa, Rajasthan and the South often use tourists for “quick trades” or as carriers for transporting drugs to foreign destinations.

    There are three types of players involved in NT– “drug barons”, “strikers” and “couriers”. A drug baron is usually someone who has risen to significance over time and due to the extent of their involvement. The narcotics trafficking menace, and its associated destabilizing effects, impacts all levels of society – locally, nationally and internationally. India today has the highest rate of opiate users in the South Asian region of approximately 3.2 million. In a national survey conducted in 2001-2002 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment it was estimated that about 73.2 million people were users of alcohol and drugs. Narcotics addiction among the Indian populace has increased hand in hand with the spread of diseases. Use of synthetic drugs and intravenous drug use, especially in the North-East states, has led to the spread of HIV/AIDS among drug users, introducing a newer grave element to the crisis. Narco-Trafficking has resulted in human security and economic security impacts in India. While legislation under the NDPS Act remains strict, it does not include the socio-cultural uses of drugs in the Indian context.

    Points in the Discussion:

    • Need to study the involvement of African countries in NT because not all African countries are involved in it.
    • African governments do not intervene to control the traffickers particularly in the case of Somalia, and the percentage of drugs smugglers has increased today.
    • The Role of International Agencies such as the IMF to control the narcotics trade should be discussed in detail.
    • Need to analyze the agencies that provide support to drug traffickers.
    • Need to focus on why Nigeria became the hub of NT, other countries like Ghana also became the hub but Nigeria is the most populous country in the region, so its involvement is greater than others.
    • How has globalization created new forms of socialization to control the consumption of drugs?
    • Why Nigeria become the hub for the narcotics trade?

    Prepared by M. Mahtab Alam Rizvi, Research Assistant at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.