Friday, November 28, 2008

Brutal carnage in Mumbai: Whom to assign Blame?

I was surprised not to see any blame going to state and local level politics in India, who control the law and order machinery. Federal government could do only so much, and it is the state governments with all the police power that must ensure blocking low level crimes that feed into the high level terrorists. Mumbai has long been under the control of Mafias, and with their low level networks and access to money, it would be hard to stop the terrorists unless we stop these mafias. But, many of them have connections with all level of local politicians. So, we need a powerful police force that can stand independent of the corrupted local politicians. As KPS Gill showed in Punjab, an effective police force can neutralize even the most brutal of terrorist forces.

Unlike in the case of September 11th New York and July 7th London, Mumbai or for that matter any major Indian city, is not new to massive attacks. New York and London and Madrid were genuinely surprised by the scale and nature of attacks and made a massive ramp up in Law & Order to thwart any further attacks. India doesn't seem to have done too much as continued instances show. Taj is the center place for all powerful people visiting India, including Presidents and CEOs and how come dozens of terrorists entered there with weapons and with intimate awareness of the hotel? What were the intelligence and security forces doing, leaving such a high profile place loosely guarded?

What is the nature of the past investigations with the prior Indian terror attacks? There are no verdicts on any of the cases in the recent terror attacks. What are the courts, CBI and rest of the machinery doing?

We have been witnessing disaster situations of every kind. From nature created Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods to man-made terrorism, stampedes, fires and carnage of all flavors. Why is there no national policy on an effective answer to disaster, like the one Israel has. We need a national level preparatory education that would teach the common public on ways to deal with a crisis situation - and we need to integrate NCC and other grassroot level forces to make a combined national preparation against emergencies. We might have to make a mandatory short military training programs at the college level, so that we can better supplement the government forces. With its relatively smaller army (compared to population) and an ineffective police force, India is right now uncontrollable and unprepared.

The terrorism answer must focus on starting from preventing the lowest level crimes and flouting of the rules. As the book "The Tipping Point" and the "Broken window theroy" show, once the bad sections of the society realizes that they can go scot-free on most of the smaller crimes, they will tend to increase in scale and things will start to snow ball.

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