Daily Current Affairs – 9th January, 2016Devendra Vishwakarma
Save security from the establishment
The recent Pathankot incident has again highlighted the security lapses that is prevalent in the country.
Practical mistakes India committed while tackling Pathankot incident:
- No coordination between the foreign office, the defence forces and the internal security establishment. There is no regular interaction and exchange of messages between the above said three main pillars of any defence establishment.
- There was no sign of a “single command and control” :
- The Defence Security Corps re-employs retired jawans who are not much better than armed gatekeepers.
- The Guard Force is a defensive arm of the air force to protect air force assets.
- The NSG is a target-specific counter-terrorist force, not a battlefield unit.
- Yet, these were the units that were called in as the first responders.
- The one trained battle-ready counter-terrorist force, the army’s Special Forces, was nearby but not deployed to secure the sprawling base or the perimeter.
In short it can be said most terror attacks in India are characterised by three critical missteps: ignored intelligence inputs, inconsistent security response, and heavy casualties.
Reshaping India’s security posture:
- Though India’s wars with neighbouring countries have played the most important role in impacting its security posture, terrorism has, in fact, been the biggest threat faced by the country on almost all major counts — the number of soldiers killed, duration of engagement with armed movements or the spread of the menace.
- However, terrorism hasn’t had a commensurate impact on reshaping India’s security posture and tactics, as well as political strategies.
Support for National Counter Terrorism Centre(NCTC)
- TheNational Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is a proposed federal anti-terror agency to be created in India, modelled on the National Counter Terrorism Centre of the USA.
- The proposal arose after the2008 Mumbai attacks aka 26/11 attacks where several intelligence and operational failures revealed the need for a federal agency with real time intelligence inputs of actionable value specifically to counter terrorist acts against India.
- The proposal has however met with much criticism from the Chief Ministers of various states who see this as a means of weakening India’s federalism.
- However with the recent pathankot incident the arguments favouring the establishment of NCTC has been strengthened.
Why states are opposing NCTC?
- Unlike the American NCTC which deals only with strategic planning and integration of intelligence without any operational involvement or the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which too plays a purely coordinating role, the Indian agency will have not only intelligence functions but also powers to conduct operations.
- It is this concentration of powers that has had the states objecting to the NCTC, arguing that such sweeping powers vested in a Central agency will violate the autonomy of state governments, given that law and order is a state subject according to the Constitution.
- It has also been argued that given the establishment of the National Investigating Agency in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks, the establishment of an NCTC would only add to the bureaucratic tangle in intelligence sharing and counter terrorist action.
A case of strengthening NATGRID:
- TheNational Intelligence Grid or NATGRID is the integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies.
- It was first proposed in the aftermath of theterrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008.
What NATGRID can do?
- NATGRID will serve as a valuable platform to trace suspicious cross-border movements of individuals like David Headley, who had made several trips to India before the Mumbai attacks.
- It will become a centralized database with sensitive information on individuals collected from 21 sources, which include data on immigration, banks and the telecom sector, in addition to data from intelligence agencies.
- NATGRID will help to collate scattered information into a transparent, accessible, integrated grid and do away with the inefficiencies associated with information asymmetries that hitherto delayed counter-terror operations.
Need revamping of NATGRID:
- In its present form, NATGRID suffers from many inadequacies, some due to bureaucratic red tape and others due to fundamental flaws in the system like consolidating data from a huge population, lack of compatibility with data sets in regional languages, risk of spies ratting out vital information to outside sourcesetc.
- If government takes enough measures to ensure that information does not fall through the firewalls that guard it, NATGRID has the potential to become India’s go-to grid for a 360-degree perspective to prevent and contain crises.