November 30, 2008

“Mumbai’s leading hotels, prominent centres of business negotiations, coming under the siege of terrorists, is symbolic of the fact that progress in counter-terrorism/law and order efforts and India’s economic progress are intertwined. India is now increasingly being perceived as a high risk country by both foreign entrepreneurs and international tourists. This is the time to not only give a major financial and technological boost to anti-terrorism/law and order efforts but ring in some major constitutional changes” said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, a leading economic policy research and advocacy group, in a press release issued here today

“The Mumbai terrorist attack is probably the biggest attack to hit the world after 9/11” said Mehta, “while the apathy of the government in the wake of so many terrorist attacks in the recent past has been both startling and unnerving, we should realise our own responsibility as citizens of this country”

The civil society, intelligentsia and media need to launch a sustained campaign to ring in major changes into the system instead of just raising the alarm after major terrorist attacks.

Mehta elaborated on the systemic changes mentioned above:

The need to make law and order and, therefore, counter-terrorism a Central subject through a constitutional amendment

A massive recruitment drive to enhance the strength of our police forces (our country is characterised by one of the lowest police-to- population ratios in the world) and the formation of a central anti-terrorism bureau

Preparation of a list of important monuments and public places for provision of special security so as to make the common man more secure

A corresponding decline in the emphasis on VIP security by trimming the list of VIPs so that the available police force can provide better security to the common man

Mehta concluded with an appeal:

“If we do not act now both the economic prosperity of India and the physical and mental security of its populace are at stake. The civil society, the media, the intelligentsia and ordinary citizens need to rise as one and not rest till we have made sure that the necessary safeguards have been put in place”.