Yes, Prime Minister? | Opinion | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Those Twin Peaks
    July 13, 2013
    Recent debates miss the point that ecology doesn't necessarily have to be pitted against development.
  • I wanted to create the age of innocence that was…
    July 6, 2013
    Vikramaditya Motwane is reworking O Henry's short story 'The Last Leaf' for his second film, 'Lootera'.
  • Your say
    July 6, 2013
    From football to the love of books, your comments say it all.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Internal threats

Yes, Prime Minister?

|



The current row between the Centre and several state governments over the formation and functioning of a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) illustrates the continuing prevalence of the 'island mentality' in dealing with pan-Indian internal security threats.

While individual states can control regional terrorism or insurgencies with a limited spread - as seen in some notable success stories, like the case of Al Ummah in Tamil Nadu - terrorism or insurgencies of a pan-Indian spread are a whole different ballgame.
Cases like that of the Indian Mujahideen or the Maoist insurgency are far more difficult to deal with. The whole of India is their theatre. No individual state police force, however professional and competent, can deal with such threats on its own.

When our constitution was framed over 60 years ago, our internal security tasks were, in hindsight, relatively and remarkably simple - we mostly needed to deal with dacoits, crime and insurgencies of the Telangana kind. Our founding fathers had the confidence that the states could deal with such internal security threats on their own. In their keenness to preserve and protect the chosen federal nature of our Union, they made law and order (and most policing functions) a state subject.

But global terror is vastly different, to put it mildly. It also mutates rapidly. Maritime terror is now a significant threat, while major terrorist organisations have been actively looking out for WMD materials that they could use. From being global, such virulent threats are likely to progressively become national.

Only the Union government can deal with these mutations and look to prevent such organisations from operating in our territory. Our internal security problems are inextricably entwined with our external environment. The non-State actors of today - whether dubbed terrorists or insurgents - actually copy nation states in their ability to use modern technologies and aim to develop new means of causing death and destruction.

Clearly, with terror constantly changing like this, often beyond our worst imagination, no single government or agency or police force can cope with them by operating from an island of its own imagination. Such an 'island mentality' and, indeed, the 'island techniques' used in the management of internal security, must necessarily give way to a co-operative and coordinated way of managing internal security.

Federalism is no longer the ability to act alone. It is the willingness and the ability to act together, which terrorists, however, understand. Many are increasingly acting together at the regional, national and global level. But authorities in India are not, sadly. Ironically, we find it easier to cooperate with other nations, but not with each other.

The NCTC concept was borrowed by home minister P Chidambaram from the US, where its NCTC has played a useful role in preventing terrorism. Normally, there should have been no controversy, but Chidambaram's action in seeking to make the NCTC a part of the Intelligence Bureau - with executive powers of arrest and search - has rightly alarmed many states, several of which have opposition party governments. In the US and elsewhere, such instruments function independently and not as a wing of the intelligence agency. They have no powers of search and arrest. The IB is a clandestine instrument. Fears of likely misuse of such powers by it are legitimate. They have to be addressed.

We used to have good habits of cooperation in the past, when the same political party was in power at the Centre and in the states. These habits are withering away due to the emerging multi-polarity of our political landscape in which almost everything gets politicised.

Yesterday's instruments are out of date. To oppose the new instruments under the pretext of threats to federalism is short-sighted and will prove suicidal in the long run.

And we do have to come up with new ways of interpreting and protecting federalism that would strengthen our ability to maintain internal security without jeopardising our federal structure. But dogged, unthinking opposition to new, much-needed structures such as the NCTC will prove counterproductive.

The Centre cannot escape blame for the current controversy though. It should have realised that it cannot deal with internal security without the cooperation of state police forces. Instead of consulting the states on an equal basis and encouraging them to get onto the same boat, it has added to their suspicions by playing games that politicians play unmindful of national interests. Its actions in avoiding political consultations on the NCTC before issuing the notification on its creation have returned to haunt it now. Instead of making the states more flexible and responsive to ideas of pan-Indian counterterrorism management, it has made them more distrustful of the Centre.

It is time for the prime minister to come to the forefront, take over the leadership role in this matter and remove the suspicions and apprehensions of the states. How can India have internal peace if the institutions of individual states decay and how can individual states have internal peace if the central institutions are thwarted from functioning as they should?

There is one way forward now. The prime minister should announce the withdrawal of the notification already issued and set up a small group of experts, from both the Centre and the states, to come out with a fresh draft of how the NCTC will function without adding to frictions between the Union and state governments.

The writer is a former head of R&AW's counterterrorism division

Reader's opinion (1)

Anil SharmaMay 3rd, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Terrorist enjoyed almost a free run and the state's response has been insufficient.It clearly requires federal effort. Federalism is not one way street. A coordinated effort is needed. What the polity really has to decide is whether they want to curb it or not. If yes, go for it & forget differences

 
Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service