The NDA government has completed 100 days. Assessments are being made of its performance during the period. It has to be recognised that the period of policy paralysis is over and government departments are showing a new work culture based on achieving targets within a specified time-frame. Parliament session was business-like. Economy appears to be on the road to recovery. Foreign policy has been strident and India is getting due attention and respect at the international level.
Internal security has, however, unfortunately not received adequate attention of the government. Maybe its hands were full with other more pressing matters and this area would also get, in the not-too-distant future, the attention it deserves. In any case, it would be worthwhile placing on record the issues of concern.
It is strange that even after more than six decades of Independence, we have not evolved or cared to codify our internal security doctrine. As a result, our responses to various problems have been ad hoc depending on the perception of the party in power. We have a National Security Advisory Board which could be entrusted with formulating this doctrine within a period of three months and submitting the same to the government. The doctrine would necessarily have inter alia political, socio-economic, intelligence and border management angles.
In any case, to start with, the least we could do is to define our anti-terror policy and our strategy to deal with the Maoist challenge—two vital components of the internal security doctrine.
Terrorism, indigenous and trans-national, is going to be our biggest internal security challenge in the coming years. The sooner we recognise it and the sooner we prepare for it, the better. The UPA government did not have the political courage to deal with the indigenous sources of terror. Vote bank considerations always hamstrung their functioning. No wonder, the indigenous terror work has spread across the country. The transnational terrorist threat is from proximate and distant sources. The proximate threat comes from the terrorist outfits being nurtured by Pakistan—Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, etc. The distant threat was from Al-Qaeda, which is now over-shadowed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Caliphate, as described by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, is “beyond anything we have seen”. It is highly sophisticated and “they marry ideology and strategic and tactical military prowess”. British Prime Minister David Cameron is perhaps the first world leader to recognise the threat posed by the Caliphate in its true dimensions. He has warned that Europe could soon see “a terrorist threat on the shores of the Mediterranean” if a firm security response was not delivered to counter the ISIS. Our leadership also needs to take cognisance of this threat which could be knocking at our frontiers. What is going to be our policy to deal with the threat of terror needs to be formulated and implemented on the ground.
Left Wing Extremism requires a comprehensive treatment. There should be a whole of government approach to tackle it. It is high time that the Prime Minister calls a meeting of the chief ministers and spells out the NDA government’s policy of dealing with this formidable threat.
What is our main instrument for dealing with the internal security threats? It is the police. We inherited a colonial structure of policing at the time of Independence and, tragically, the same continues. It is most unfortunate and a sad reflection on our leadership. The Supreme Court gave some orders in 2006, but the majority of states are still dragging their feet in implementing those. The force must be reorganised, restructured and rejuvenated. The “rulers’ police” that we have must transform into “people’s police”—upholding the rule of law and sensitive to the grievances of the people.
The US National Security Strategy clearly states that “what takes place within our borders will determine our strength and influence beyond them”. US President Barack Obama is also on record as having said that “our strength and influence abroad begins with the steps we take at home”. The Modi government must, without any further delay, initiate the necessary measures to overhaul the security apparatus and define its policy of dealing with internal security challenges.