In today’s world, when security threats have almost an existentialist dimension, affecting in turn the life in urban and rural societies alike, the rich, the middle classes and the poor in varying degrees of impact, responses can at best be partial and temporary, rarely complete or permanent. The heightened character of threats to India and its citizens has given a new sense of urgency to the long due police reforms and modernisation. While the need for it has been underlined by all security experts, the end goal of securing the lives of the poorest of the poor cannot meaningfully be achieved without a realistic Centre-state concord. Equally significant would be a pro-active involvement of Parliament and state legislatures by holding special sessions for focused passage of bills linked to restructuring of policing and internal security mechanisms for better delivery.
Such endeavours to elicit the abiding confidence of the poorest of the poor by conveying that the Indian State would not dither to ensure dignity and security of human lives could only make our democracy more meaningful.
Restructuring police modernisation methodologies at the national level for greater impact than attained hitherto right from the constabulary level to the IPS zone would prepare our police trainees to cope with varying levels of threats and in formulating responses. Concomitant structural change in the management and mandating of our intelligence agencies and security services and facilitating as well as decreeing for them the right of arrest and direct executive action to nip in the bud national security threats at incipient stages could widen their direct influence in the national security space.
The challenge spectrum must be integrally tackled rather than being interpreted as challenges in isolation. For this, it’s imperative to confront threats and challenges through institutional synergy and sagacious Centre-state concord. The level of challenge is humungous, and in terms of delivery deadlines even open-ended as recently evidenced in the case of the deadline earlier set by the home ministry for creating the National Counter Terrorism Centre and Natgrid, which despite repeated pronouncements could not actually be met.
Another arena of challenge stems from the fact that although state governments and Central police organisations are routinely involved in major procurement drives, we are still faced with a major quality deficit in critical zones, including bullet-proof vests, anti-mine gear, surveillance and interoperable communication systems. It is proposed that rather than depending timelessly on Israeli options or expensive Western options, India should configure an effective Technology Research Group with a mid-term perspective to ensure import substitution. In this context, the government can also start thinking in terms of setting up a separate department or ministry of internal security production, on the lines of the department of defence production, to help state governments cope with their demand for equipment for police forces. India needs to internalise in much greater degree its capacity to meet internal security demands in the larger interest of confidentiality and national security interests. In the meantime, for maximising returns to every US dollar that is spent, cogent and cheat-proof procurement strategies in respect of absorption of technology and equipment from foreign sources must be put in place, now not later!
While our policemen need to be better armed, they equally need to be better trained. It is imperative to change behavioural dynamics of the police through more effective and relevant training modules for policemen on the ground and human resource development methods in the hierarchical order of battle. The gap between the officers and the men under their command ought to be minimised, whatever the zone of combat action. Further, a greater modicum of systemic judicial assistance to police in general must be factored to effectively reduce trial time and pendency of charge-sheeted criminal cases at the trial court, appellate and the apex levels.