Life, liberty and freedom are as much the modern day prerequisite of a humans as is the universally accepted Indian idiom of ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’. Successive governments have in the past spelt out and legislated new fundamental rights for Indian citizens. These include the Right to Information, Right to education, Right to food and many similar enforceable rights. All these are good additions and should in due course and with better governance contribute to an overall better quality of life and increase the score in the human development index.
But what about an ordinary citizens right to a secure life? And by extension the ‘Right to Security ‘, I feel the time has come for India to address this issue pragmatically and legislate and implement the right to security. This is important, as in our current federal structure it is difficult to convince all states and various stakeholders to defer to a national regulatory and executive body which can holistically deal with this complex issue.
As terrorism escalates and terrorists get access to higher and more lethal technologies the risks to life and liberty of ordinary citizens and of soft targets will get even more compounded. The continued rise and malaise of Left Wing Extremism (Naxals/Maoists) is dealing a body blow to the authority of the state and undermines our nationhood. It is therefore time to formally launch an indigenized version of a Homeland Security Doctrine and stitch together a cogent federal structure with all states under it’s willing ambit to deal with all issues so as to provide the desired Right to Security to all citizens. In the USA post 9/11 the Homeland security structure which has now matured includes in its mandate the National Disaster emergency response,(in our case NDMA) the coast guard, the customs and border control , bedsides a slew of intelligence, financial and cyber related agencies.
In India also we could create an overarching national Homeland Security architecture, combing the NIA,BSF/CRPF, Coast guard, NDMA and other intelligence agencies to comprehensively deal with all aspects of internal security. The new government which takes the reins at the centre should consider revving in an appropriate and acceptable manner the still born NCTC. We would also need competent and well trained police personnel to help run this along with other domain experts. It should have enough financial and functional autonomy to give it the teeth that it may need to tackle the hydra headed monster of terrorism and radicalism. The creation of this entity would need political sagacity and intellectual honesty of a very high order. Unless we get near unanimity for its legitimate need, it would be difficult to put it together. A diluted structure born out of too much compromise and appeasement would not serve the purpose, and is better avoided. The best course would perhaps be to open this subject to public debate across the nation and build the requisite groundswell of opinion and acceptance before going to parliament or the states with the plan. If we do this well in the next decade we shall be capable of meeting both external and internal threats while safeguarding national interests. Thus the time may have come to demand the ‘Right to Security’.
Lt Gen Sudhir Sharma,PVSM, AVSM,
YSM, VSM,(Retd) is the Chairman of
MitKat Advisory Services, India’s
leading premium risk consultancy. He
hails from the Brigade of Guards.