The Union Home Minister, Shri P.Chidambaram has suggested some dynamic and progressive measures that would go a long way in strengthening the National Security of India. Presently, they are at the “Proposal Stage” but these suggestions have lot of potential for the overall and holistic security of India. It would be a good strategy if there are time bound obligations that are implemented and monitored in a fair, transparent and accountable manner. Similarly, there is also an emergent need to look at the “Techno-Legal Aspects” of the National and Internal Security of India. The present ICT Trends of India 2009 have not showed a positive development in this regard and we hope the Home Minister would not fail India this time. Perry4Law and PTLB would be providing their insights and suggestions in this regard from time to time. The Government of India must also keep in mind the Human Rights aspect of the netizens in Cyberspace while implementing various security related and crime fighting initiatives.
The Union Home Minister, Shri P.Chidambaram has proposed radical restructuring of the security architecture at the national level. As part of the plan India must be able to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) by the end of 2010. Once set up, NCTC must have the broad mandate to deal with all kinds of terrorist violence, directed against the country and its people.
Realising the gross deficiency in connectivity, the Central Government is implementing an ambitious scheme called “Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS).” The goals of the system are to facilitate collection, storage, retrieval, analysis, transfer and sharing of data and information at the police station and between the police station and the State Headquarters and the Central Police Organisations.
Another major idea is the proposal to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). As the name suggests, the goal is to counter terrorism. Obviously, this will include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place, and responding to a terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators. Such an organisation does not exist today. It has to be created from scratch. India must decide now to go forward and India must succeed in setting up the NCTC by the end of 2010.
Once NCTC is set up, it must have the broad mandate to deal with all kinds of terrorist violence directed against the country and the people. NCTC would therefore have to perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations. All intelligence agencies would therefore have to be represented in the NCTC. As far as investigation is concerned, Government has set up the National Investigation Agency, and that agency would have to be brought under the overall control of NCTC. The last function – operations – would of course be the most sensitive and difficult part to create and bring under the NCTC. But without ‘operations’, NCTC and the security architecture that is needed will be incomplete. It is the proposed ‘operations’ wing of the NCTC that will give an edge – now absent – to our plans to counter terrorism.
The establishment of the NCTC will indeed result in transferring some oversight responsibilities over existing agencies or bodies to the NCTC. This should not result in turf wars. Some agencies would naturally have to be brought under NCTC and what come to my mind readily are NIA, NTRO, JIC, NCRB and the NSG. The positioning of R&AW, ARC and CBI would have to be re-examined and a way would have to be found to place them under the oversight of NCTC to the extent that they deal with terrorism. The intelligence agencies of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance would, of course, continue to remain under the respective Ministry, but their representatives would have to be deputed mandatorily to the NCTC. NATGRID would obviously come under NCTC. So also, CCTNS would have to be supervised by the NCTC.
Given the overarching responsibility of NCTC and its mandate, it will be obvious that it must be headed by a highly qualified professional with vast experience in security related matters. Considering the structure of our services, it is natural to expect that the head of one of our organisations will be appointed to the post, by whatever name it may be called. He/she could be a police officer or a military officer. He/she must be one who has impeccable professional credentials and the capacity to oversee intelligence, investigation and operations. He/she will be the single person accountable to the country on all matters relating to internal security. At the Government level, and in order to be accountable to Parliament, it would be logical and natural to place the NCTC under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
That leaves the question of the structure of the Ministry of Home Affairs itself. MHA now handles a wide portfolio of subjects ranging from ‘freedom fighters’ to ‘forensic science’. Is this a functional arrangement to deal with the grave challenges to internal security that we face and that we will face from many more years? I am afraid not. It is true that the words ‘Ministry of Home Affairs’ have an authoritative ring, but the MHA now performs a number of functions that have no direct relation to internal security. For example, it has a division dealing with freedom fighters but it does not have even a desk for dealing exclusively with forensic science. There are other divisions or desks that deal with Centre-State Relations, State Legislation, Human Rights, Union Territories, Disaster Management, Census etc. These are undoubtedly important functions and deserve close attention. However, internal security is an equally, if not more, important function that deserves the highest attention. In my view, given the imperatives and the challenges of the times, a division of the current functions of the Ministry of Home Affairs is unavoidable. Subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate Ministry or should be brought under a separate Department in the MHA and dealt with by a Minister, more or less independently, without referring every issue to the Home Minister. The Home Minister should devote the whole of his/her time and energy to matters relating to security.
It is after one year in office that I have ventured to outline the new architecture for India’s security. There are two enemies of change. The first is ‘routine’. Routine is the enemy of innovation. Because we are immersed in routine tasks, we neglect the need for change and innovation. The second enemy is ‘complacency’. In a few days from today, 2009 will come to a close, and I sincerely hope that we may be able to claim that the year was free from terror attacks. However, there is the danger of a terror-free year inducing complacency, signs of which can be seen everywhere. A strange passivity seems to have descended upon the people: they are content to leave matters relating to security to a few people in the Government and not ask questions or make demands. I wish to raise my voice of caution and appeal to all of you assembled here, and to the people at large, that there is no time to be lost in making a thorough and radical departure from the present structure. If, as a nation, we must defend ourselves in the present day and prepare for the future, it is imperative that we put in place a new architecture for India’s security.