Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbai terror attack: What we can contribute

It is now one full week since terrorists attacked the landmarks of Mumbai. Amidst the 24 hour media coverage, for me, the haunting image of the attack has been our ill equipped policemen fighting the armed to the teeth cowards from hell. Think of the lone RPF constable at CST throwing a chair to distract attention of a terrorist so that he can fire from his obsolete .303 rifle. Think of ATS Chief Karkare trying to fit a useless bullet proof vest. Think of armed with lathi Mumbai police personnel trying to stop the Skoda of the terrorist at Girgaum Chowpatty. Think of the army man getting down from the army truck with a 5 kg battery and equally heavy communication equipment. Think of the NSG commandos reaching Taj in the morning of 27th in BEST buses. What would have happened if another terrorist had laid siege on the tin bus of BEST and deflated its tyre?

Most of our policemen bravely fought the cowards, but did they have a chance to succeed? We are a brave country but we have let ourselves down by failing to look after those who are responsible for our security. We have seen any number of talk shows on our TVs about how spectacularly the government has failed. We have lampooned our politicians. But after all this, what?

I propose that the Government of India immediately set up a Civil Defence fund of India where all of us can contribute according to our capacity. Let this fund be created under an act of Parliament with water tight regulations to ensure that the Achutanandans of this country cannot fiddle with this fund for their own agenda. Further, utilization of this fund can be linked to the police reforms which have been resisted by our ruling classes for the last several decades making policing a hand maiden of their nefarious designs.

The contribution to the fund can be made exempt from income tax. Its management can be done by a highly empowered and autonomous board consisting of eminent men and women who will oversee its utilization. The utilization should be restricted to policing infrastructure of the country: central para military forces such as NSG, CRPF, CISF, RPF, BSF and so on and the state police. A broad outline is given below:

Expensewise Percentage
Equipment for below: 60%
Firearms – Small and Large
Transportation: Armored vehicles, Boats, Helicopters, aircrafts
Surveillance-Radars, Sonars, unmanned aircraft
Safety Equipment -Bullet proof vests
Intelligence gathering Equipments
Training: 20%
For welfare of police martyr families: 5%
Exceptional bravery awards: 3%
Discretion of the board (for other items related to related to policing): 12%
Exclusions: Luxury transportation such as expensive cars for senior officers, luxury aircraft.

Supervisory Board
Leaders and Percentage
Eminent industrialists, business leaders from the private industry: 30%
Security Specialists viz. Retired IPS, Retired Armed Force Officers, Retired Intelligence Officers: 30%
Specialist in strategic affairs: 20%
Politicians: Union Home Minister and A person appointed by Leader of opposition in the Parliament (Shadow home minister): 2 in number
Other eminent persons like scientists, academics and the like: Remaining percentage
Exclusions: All serving officers of the government, Retired civil officers like IAS, revenue service etc (Police Service and Intelligence service being the only exception)

This has been done in the past. Our IITs and IIMs are a result of such farsighted legislation which the Arjun Singhs of this world have not been able to destroy in spite of their best efforts. Hence I am confident this can be done. Let us put pressure on the central government to enact such legislation in the coming session of the parliament itself. Once this is passed, let us contribute whole heartedly to this fund to make it a grand success.
When the terrorist strikes again, let this be a battle by well armed men. Let not another constable be seen firing from a first world war vintage .303 to combat the next cowardly terrorist. A few of us will recall the fearlessness in the eyes of the young CRPF constables who defeated the nefarious designs of the terrorists during the parliament attack. Well armed and well trained, our brave men can show how the terrorists can be tamed.