Prime Minister echoed the sentiments of the nation while
paying wholesome tributes to the citizens of Mumbai and
Srinagar and asserting that India would defeat the merchants
of death and destruction by our resolve and defiance. Leader
of Opposition rose above politics and focused on unity and
murderous bombings once again show that sleeper cells in
Indian cities can be activated at will to unleash horror
and destruction. While these cells may be ultimately controlled
from Pakistan, the links are increasingly complex, involving
several tiers within India, and Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE ,
Gulf region and Europe. The telecommunications revolution
and globalization have given enormous advantages to the
terrorist outfits, just as they have accelerated growth
and promoted prosperity.
recent spurt in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and
the Mumbai blasts show that our national security capabilities
need strengthening. In particular, we need to focus on three
areas. First, the intelligence and security infrastructure
to fight terrorism needs to be strengthened. In a highly
globalized, technologically sophisticated world, this would
need greater access to technology, and highly trained, adequate
manpower. Investment in these may be expensive in the short
term, but could prevent far greater losses later. Our total
security related expenditure is about 4% of GDP now. More
expenditure would mean diversion of precious resources;
but being penny-wise could greatly enhance the risks to
our national security and economy. It would be sensible
to invest in smart technologies and excellent training instead
of massive expansion and visible presence of security forces.
Equally important is effective integration and coordination
among the many security agencies - R & AW, Military
Intelligence, State intelligence wings, and all police forces.
the intelligence agencies need to be given the freedom and
flexibility to operate effectively. Democratic accountability
should not mean tying up intelligence and security forces
in procedural bottle necks. Recruitment of personnel on
short-term basis in India or abroad would be necessary from
time to time. The heads of intelligence agencies need the
freedom to act swiftly and secretly. Similarly, procurement
procedures need to be relaxed to suit intelligence requirements.
Obviously the IB cannot procure high quality surveillance
equipment or other sophisticated gadgets through advertising,
open tendering or display of specifications on the web!
The authority to discretely purchase state-of-the art equipment
to suit our special requirements is vital in order not to
alert terrorist outfits and hostile powers. Many such procedures
need to be streamlined, with suitably amended processes
of accountability, to enhance the capacity of security agencies
to cope with growing challenges.
we need to revisit the legal framework which exists to combat
terrorism and other threats to national security. Many jurists
and security experts argue that the normal criminal laws
are not adequate to bring terrorists to book. Witnesses
are silenced by fear of reprisals; judges and their families
are threatened with violence and retribution; and rules
of evidence and standard of proof required to establish
guilt have become tools in the hands of terrorists to escape
the clutches of law. Foreign nationals determined to undermine
our unity and security cannot be allowed to use our constitutional
freedoms against us. The imperatives of national security
have to be acknowledged and recognized while making laws
to combat terrorism. It is better to have strong laws enforced
justly and humanely, than to have weak laws forcing the
security agencies to act extra-legally. The money laundering
law is widely regarded as toothless, and needs to be strengthened
so that the international supply chains of terrorists can
be cut off.
domestic political rivalries should not be allowed to come
in the way of national security. The union government must
be seen to be firmly in command, and its authority needs
to be respected whichever be the party in power. A perception
of weakness or lack of cohesion will only embolden terrorists.
Our democratic system has been our greatest asset to national
security, and unrestrained squabbles should not be allowed
to weaken the country. Similarly the Union and States should
work, and be seen to be working, in concert. For instance,
SIMI network is suspected to be involved along with LeT
in the Mumbai blasts. And yet UP government is said to be
reluctant to extend the ban on SIMI. Such discord can only
harm the country.
the ultimate analysis, our security is guaranteed only when
all segments of society share in prosperity, and have common
stakes in the future. Alienation breeds resentment and violence.
Harmony in society and opportunities for all are the best
safeguards for the future. Meanwhile, the threats of foreign-sponsored
terrorism cannot be underestimated. We need to do whatever
it takes to eliminate such threats. Only then freedom, peace
and growth can be assured.