Indian Homeland Security - Can It Ever Be Achieved?

For well over a decade now, the contemporary landmark event being the serial blasts in Mumbai in the early nineties, Indians, in major metros at least, have not felt safe.

Minor instances since the serial Mumbai blasts have been aplenty. Major ones keep occurring all over with disturbing regularity, two blood-chilling instances being the happenings of 2611 in Mumbai and some years earlier, the attack on the Indian Parliament in Delhi.

Very few believe the Government's assurances that they are doing all they can to prevent recurrences. Major politicians & ministers who were blamed for the lapses in security arrangements & forced to resign have reappeared in positions of power after short intervals, political parties banking on the fact that public memory is short.

The knee-jerk efforts by the administration are ham-handed. Chidambaram, who has weaved his way in & out of major & minor political parties for quite some time now and is a lawyer by training who has shuttled between a number of portfolios in the Central Govt., was shifted to the Home Ministry after the 2611 fiasco. His credentials for implementing an effective deterrent policy are questionable. Other than some short-term visible measures taken to appease angry and concerned citizens, a couple of months after every major incident it is back to business as usual.

If the state is indeed responsible for the security and the life of its citizens, it has done precious little to fulfill that responsibility. An alarming situation which cries out for being tackled quickly and effciently, the whole process possibly being helmed by a proven police or army official with sweeping powers to take decisions and enforce them without fail, is left in the hands of individuals, who often have very little clue about what needs to be done differently to stop the violence and the killings.

Meanwhile the list of V.I.P.s keeps growing by the month and security escorts, gun-toting commandos, cordoned off streets and flashing red lights atop official vehicles have become the status symbols of power and influence. All such elaborate security arrangements are financed by the exchequer and consequently by the ordinary citizen and taxpayer of India.

Incidents of terrorism both by external agents as well as by internal influencers & manipulators continue to multiply. Politicians & political parties actively aid and abet many such instances as has been seen in W. Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and several other states.

In a classic case of fiddling while Rome burns, Indian politicians and administrators have not perceptibly tightened Immigration procedures, made major moves to cut down infiltration by land and sea across India's vast borders and uncovered even a good percentage of the local cells which are aiding and abetting external terrorism.

Internal acts of terrorism are often state-sponsored or aided & abetted by political parties through the thugs, hirelings with criminal records and the Indian equivalent of biker gangs that they secretly nurture. The Federal Govt. of the day seems either powerless or downright reluctant to intervene strongly and decisively and stamp such instances out, possibly because their state units are at times complicit in the process.

It is upto the citizens of India to ask some hard questions and demand answers which address the issue squarely instead of being mere platitudes. Some of the questions would be:
  1. What needs to be done to prevent recurrences of internal & external terrorism?
  2. Who is responsible and accountable for ensuring the safety & well-being of ordinary citizens & residents of India?
If no satisfactory answers followed up by effective actions are forthcoming, it is about time that the citizens teach an effective lesson to all those who merely fiddle and cocoon themselves while the ordinary citizen goes about his or her daily life in constant fear of being maimed or killed by yet another incident of terrorism.

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