A performing home minister who has made a difference

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by RAM, May 22, 2010.

  1. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

    Jul 15, 2009
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    When P Chidambaram moved from the finance ministry to the home ministry in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, his reputation preceded him — someone who knew the system and read his own files.He was retained as the home minister in the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for his no-nonsense attitude. One year on, he is in command of India’s internal security and the face of its war on terror.
    Soon after he took office, Chidambaram — an old hand in the internal security ministry under the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi — decided the threats to India could be countered only by putting more boots on the ground. Chidambaram was forthright in his criticism of state governments like West Bengal — reeling under serious Naxalite threat but neither having the will nor the power to counter the assault — with a politicised and neglected police force.He wasted no time and went on pushed recruitment prodding state governments to beef up policing and increase the strength of the force. The effects of this massive injection of manpower, however, will be visible only five to six years down the line.

    In March this year, Rs 1,230 crore was released under the Police Modernisation Scheme for 2009-10. The Uttar Pradesh government was the first to act, responding with an upgraded and a more transparent system for recruiting personnel.The home minister did not harp on the favourite litany of his predecessor, Shivraj Patil, that law and order is a state subject. He took it on himself to upgrade training and living conditions of the security forces, including the Central Para Military Forces, and got allocations to set up 13,026 dwelling units at an estimated cost of Rs 2,488.59 crore over a period of two years.

    As part of modernising coastal security, Chidambaram sanctioned 73 police stations in nine states, including Goa and Tamil Nadu. Four battalions of Special Action Force were raised and trained and 801 SIG assault rifles purchased at a cost of Rs 20.68 crore for the National Security Guard.Chidambaram made it clear the buck stopped at his table on India’s security concerns and fast-tracked projects on border management, including fencing of the Indo-Bangladesh border, development of road along the Sino-Indian border and development of the border area.

    However, analysts say the home ministry’s main gains in internal security — something never attempted before — was in the polemical challenge to civil society on where it stood on Naxalism.

    Chidambaram invited intellectuals, students and sympathisers of the Naxalite movement for a dialogue and challenged the insurgents on their intellectual premises. This was an effort to destroy the underpinnings of ideology and declare them as “murderers” instead of “misguided ideologues”.

    Chidambaram was so persuasive that he got Arun Jaitley of the Bharatiya Janata Party to agree with him, leaving no room for Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh to pass the buck on the Centre. Singh had to later accept that there were no differences between him and the UPA on fighting Left extremism. No other home minister has been as provocative.

    In the first UPA tenure, the home minister was defensive — he did, after all, take over the reins after the Mumbai attacks, when most believed the state machinery had collapsed.

    In UPA-II, he has been aggressive. There are civil society groups that believe the home ministry is becoming too intrusive and trampling on civil rights — the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was not diluted.But, India has begun to believe that a performing home minister can make a difference. This is UPA-II’s biggest gain.


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