A retired foreign secretary, an over-ambitious Home Minister
Foreign Security and internal security
Are things clear in New Delhi?

There seems to be some disarray in the Central government functioning. Already Sharad Pawar, the agri minister has been adding fuel to the rising food prices. After sugar prices, the food minister has indicated that milk prices would go up!

Is this the way the country’s agriculture minister who  has earned a dubious distinction of being an agriculture minister as well as the food minister. In neither of them he has any credible record  to date. There is a clear indication that food production, if not declining, is stagnant and also faced with multiple issues.

Drought and erratic rains is only one side of the truth. The other side is the complete confusion in farm credit and the structure of the farm credit reforms. Farming is one economic activity that is very unlike other industrial activities. There are no big industrialists and all farmers are middle level or poor farmers.

Thus, farm loans need some severe restructuring. Apart from banks, it is the co-operatives, co-operative credit structure that are critical.  Also most of the farming activities like marketing also requires co-operative marketing institutions.

Since Pawar was originally a Maratha leader and he was also seen as the king of the co-operative sugar industry, everyone, including the unsuspected Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi combine thought; Pawar is the right man for the right job.

Alas! How times have changed! Today, everyone is blaming the agri minister who in turn now has started to sing a different tune. Pawar says, unjustifiably, that prices rises are not easy to understand and easy to control and that he alone is not responsible for the price rise and it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister as the boss of the Cabinet and the Cabinet must take collective responsibility for the price rise and also for the price control.

This has landed the Prime Minister whose reputation as an economic czar is at stake.
Now, all this comes at a time when the Prime Minister himself seems to be in some sort of a bind. What is it?

First, he started to lose his magic touch. He seemed to give the impression to the outside world at any rate that he is the boss and he enjoyed complete confidence of the party president.  Now, there are certain ruptures in the internal structure of the Central government.

What the Prime Minister could not do now is to have his way in many areas. First, he could not protect M.K.Narayanan. He is now shifted as the Governor of West Bengal. A government can always spin any story to suit its convenience. Narayanan won’t be of much use for the Congress in West Bengal as the Trinamul Congress only would dictate the terms there. The Leftists are helpless now, as with the exit of Jyoti Basu, the Leftists now feel like orphans. No cause, no legitimacy and now resources, both ideological or coalitional support. The Congress in these circumstances is no better placed.

So, Narayanan lost out to the over-ambitious PC who wants to emerge as the final arbiter of things. Now, as for the security, first, the foreign security issues. In India, we Indians make a great deal of fuss over external security. There doesn’t require so much awe and a distant sort of respect for anyone who comes as a national security expert or adviser.

What is the fuss about these men and women?

See, the USA, the biggest and the most powerful country had as secretary of state a 46 year old academic, a professor, Condoleez Rice under George Bush. So, what is so great about a Narayanan or a Shivasankar  Menon, a retired career diplomat as the new NSA. One must have some quality of competence, of course, any training or some experience is a help. But only in India, we are obsessed with these retired fellow, who after a lifetime of bowing and strapping to one and all, often not at all competent political heads, what energy they would be left with when you press them again into your routine desk work?
So, the New Delhi culture of promoting every one of the retired hands available there, unfortunately, Delhi is over-crowded job seekers, and you make so much fuss.
You haven’t solved on date or hope to solve in the near future, these security issues, these security threat perceptions.

So, let us drop this mentality, this search for retired hands only syndrome and search for a new set of criteria to find real talents for the job.

Now, what have we in New Delhi, honestly?

The PM is conducting himself more as a super foreign minister. He is more busy with his foreign trips and foreign visitors. Sheik Haseena, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, saw that the PM was everywhere while she was here.

Now, the PM, is rumored in New Delhi, is more suspect about Pranab Mukerjee and using PC as a counterweight. One doesn’t know. Who knows?

The point is that as far as foreign security issues are concerned there is some overcrowding in PMO and EAM.A  weak foreign minister is now overseen by a retired foreign secretary as another  super  foreign minister? It looks like that. There is no more any clearer picture than what was the position when Mr.Narayanan was NSA.

As for internal security, here too the ever-present threat is no more or no less any better than what was before what PC tried to do as a revamp.

There are more than one approach to internal security. There must be a more energetic  action at the socio-economic level to ease the tensions that lead to buildup in the Maoist and Naxaliste ranks.

Better ask Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee as to how to bring back the Maoists into mainstream politics. Unless we bring back the Maoists and Naxalites into the broad based mainstream politics the internal security threats won’t die down.

The issues are complex and we need many expert studies and opinions. The tribal areas where the big mining licenses are given to the MNCs need special focus.

Then there is the question of violent politics even from within the chauvinistic political formations. The separatist politics is another area of security issue. This also need some in-depth study. As a large  and diverse society, with age-old and also new types of separatist and divisive  society, we need to engage and also start new academic courses in sociology and  social development how and why tensions build up, violence  erupts in democratic change.

So, the point is that internal security is not one of revamping intelligence gathering, though it is an important component. Internal security is also ideological and the middle class intelligentsia needs to be engaged with the understanding and coming to terms with the multiple sources of violence, tension and even resort to separatism and divisions.  May be more smaller states may be one solution. There could be other solutions too. The basic approach should be clear.

It is not just strengthening the police and paramilitary forces and their deployment. This much must be made clear and one hope the UPA-II would have a fresh approach.

Image Source : thehindu.com

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