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Why does Indian intelligence fail?
August 17, 2006
Earlier column: Pakistan: Geopolitical epicentre of Islamist jihadEach time there is a terrorist and jihadi strike in India, we blame the intelligence agencies of failing to anticipate and prevent the attack.
Why do we fail?
We fail because the central Intelligence Bureau, the government's cutting edge internal security tool, is ill-prepared to combat aggressive operations of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency, Bangladesh's Directorate General of Forces Intelligence and Islamist tanzeems.
The Bureau has well-trained, motivated and dedicated operators to gather intelligence and operate along areas of national fault lines. The IB operates through its Central Operations Units and Subsidiary Units in states. From the Northeast to Gujarat, Kashmir to Kanyakumari, it has a vast geographical area and extremely complex problems to grapple with. And with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan factors thrown in, the Bureau finds it nose drowned under the flood of events that threaten the nation. The IB is simply not equipped to handle the enormous canvas, which is getting murkier by the day.
Among other things, it suffers from:
We fail because the IB is not allowed by the government to expose its wares to the larger audience of any parliamentary watchdog body. The country is not entitled to know why they fail and why they cannot be made failproof. The agency is out of bounds for the RTI Act of 2005. It should at least be made accountable to Parliament, so that people can know how their money is being spent and how the political masters manipulate the agencies.
The people have a right to know. Failures cannot be covered up behind the veil of departmental security rules.
We fail because our coastal policing and intelligence gathering mechanism is appallingly poor. Besides the Coast Guard, which normally patrol the deeper shallow waters and the Border Security Force, which covers certain eastern riverine borders with Bangladesh, the state governments do not take coastal policing seriously. The existing police forces are not adequate, trained and equipped to police the vast western coastal area from Kot Lakhpat to Wapi in Gujarat and Daman near Maharashtra to Bhatkal in Karnataka and beyond in Kerala.
Besides over a dozen major ports, the western coast has nearly 150 minor ports, over 200 landing sites and over 500 shallow landing creeks. The police and Customs presence in the major ports aside, there is skeletal or no Customs or police presence in minor ports and nothing at all in the landing sites and shallow creeks. The police departments have a few slow moving dhows and negligible fast boats without GPS technology. Pakistan and other jihadist forces can land any amount of arms and explosives through the vast unmanned western coastal area. India has no blueprint to tackle this menace.
A nation under attack still thinks 'people's resilience' is the only weapon to fight the jihadist forces. When shall we wake up to the needs for a special coastal policing and intelligence system?
We fail because our disaster management mechanism is appallingly neglected. There exists a high sounding body in Delhi, fat at the top minus vital limbs. The state governments are not concerned about managing disasters beyond paying ex-gratia grants to the dead and injured. The Central Disaster Management outfit should be integrated with the state outfits and a unified command structure is required to be in position with adequate resources. Response time should be minimised to 10 minutes at proximate locations and not more than 20 minutes at difficult locations.
We fail because Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Islamist forces are rapidly salvaging the 'communal debris' left by the scars of Partition. Politicians are aiding these forces by mimicking the British 'divide and rule' policy. They are fuelling the ruffled sentiments that arise out of poverty, lack of education and opportunities. Our system has failed to address these crying needs.
The political class has failed to bridge the gaps left by Partition. They have widened the gaps through vote catching slogans and are doing precious little for them. The poor among the Muslims are as poor as the poor in any other community. They live, because they happen to be born. Nothing beyond!
We fail because we suspect each other. We fail because even the Hindus are fragmented. We fail because we do not behave as a united people. Our unity, our ability to rebuff dubious politicians and our resolve to rise above the ghost of history can act as sure deterrence against the war imposed on us.
This is not a war by Muslims against Hindus. It is a war against India by the foreign-based jihadist forces headed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and International Islamist Inc. Every Indian is required to unitedly fight these enemies.
The foreign forces should not succeed in subverting our own people by taking advantage of lapses committed by the political caricatures. We must remember that Indian Muslims did not fight in Afghan jihad and Pakistan's Kashmir jihad. They are one of us and we shall triumph together.
M K Dhar is the author of Open Secrets and Fulcrum of Evil-ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus and other books. Available at email@example.com