The Naresh Chandra report is the result of the first-ever focused exercise since the Kargil Review Committee, headed by the late K Subrahmanyam, of 10 years ago after which no such holistic review of all aspects of national security was taken up, reports Sheela Bhatt
The Task Force on National Security, headed by former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra, will submit its final report today to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said a source in the Prime Minister's Office.
The report is the result of the first-ever focused exercise since the Kargil Review Committee, headed by the late K Subrahmanyam, of 10 years ago. After that no such holistic review of all aspects of national security was taken up.
Naresh Chandra's report is a significant intellectual work undertaken by the United Progressive Alliance government, and will leave behind how it views national security in the post-National Democratic Alliance era.
The Naresh Chandra committee had intelligence experts like PC Haldar, former chief of Intelligence Bureau, KC Verma, former chief of Research and Analysis Wing, and former National Investigation Agency chief Radha Vinod Raju.
It also had former defence officers like Admiral Arun Prakash, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy, and former Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen VR Raghavan, apart from bureaucrats like Brajeshwar Singh and Vinod K Duggal.
Suman K Berry, director, National Council of Applied Economic Research, senior journalist Manoj Joshi, former Mumbai police commissioner D Sivanandan, former diplomat G Parthasarathy, former chief of Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar were also part of the Task Force.
B Raman, strategic expert and former intelligence officer with R&AW, was advisor to Naresh Chandra.
The Task Force report will be judged on the basis of its recommendations in the area of better management of defence forces and security set-up. It must bring in new ideas to improve the intelligence set-up and show ways to improve the national security apparatus dealing with internal issues.
Naresh Chandra's Task Force had a few sub-committees that dealt with internal security, defence-related and intelligence-related issues.
Rahul bedi, India's well-known expert on defence-related issues, told rediff.com: "Drastic changes need to be made to resolve the many fault-lines plaguing the military. But the Task Force recommendations need to be implemented swiftly and sincerely for these problems to be resolved."
Bedi added, "What is urgently required is the equivalent of the chief of defence staff or permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee. It is likely to be recommended by the Task Force to the government."
The issue is highly sensitive and the chiefs of Navy and Air Force are against any such move.
Bedi further said, "It is expected that the Task Force will introduce the provision of theatre command for greater efficiency, better financial economy and technical joint-ness of all three forces."
There are also apprehensions about the Task Force's suggestions not being accepted or not being implemented.
Soon after the Kargil conflict of 1999, the then government had set up the Kargil Review Committee whose recommendations were reviewed by the Group of Ministers in 2000-01. With the help of four task forces, this GoM made 350 recommendations, several of which were accepted by the government and implemented, but over the years the speed of implementation of reforms has died down.
The Defence Intelligence Agency and National Technical Research Organisation were created after a comprehensive review of national security then.
The most significant issue will be to see if the government is serious in responding to the suggestions made by the Task Force, like creating the post of a permanent chairman, chiefs of staff committee, or creating an entry point for uniformed officers at higher levels in the ministry of defence, and sending civilian officers to the defence forces headquarters.