Monday, September 25, 2017
WASHINGTON: Former Intelligence Special Secretary Vappala Balachandran was recently in the United States to promote his new book on internal security in India(Keeping India safe:the dilemma of internal security-Harper Collins India) launched in Delhi on August 29 by former Vice President M.A.Ansari.
Balanchandran’s book is a historical analysis of why India's internal security has been neglected by all governments since independence since our Constitution makers did not confer a leading role to the Central Government to concurrently deal with serious disorders like what was witnessed in Panchkula where the State Government had totally abdicated their responsibility in protecting the lives and property.
The Centre remained a passive spectator although it was duty bound to protect the state from external aggression and internal disorders under Article 355 of the Indian Constitution. This responsibility was neglected during the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition,2002 Gujarat riots and the recent Cow Vigilante violence affecting the minorities where the Centre has taken a a stand that it is for the State to prevent and deal with such violence which is tearing our national fabric apart.
Balachandran who was part of the Maharashtra government appointed 2 man high level enquiry committee to enquire into the systemic failures during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks has also said that the same neglect was witnessed during the serious Pakistan sponsored terror attacks on Mumbai where the Centre, which was privy to the imminence of the attack and also on the unpreparedness of the State government did not initiate any move to strengthen sea coast security and protect the lives and property.
Their only role was issuing intelligence alerts which the State government treated very casually. He has said that the National Security Council which was created with great fanfare in 1998 by the NDAgovernment has been dysfunctional since its creation especially during 26/ 11 attacks. Even now it is not very clear what is its role in internal security.
The reason for this abdication was because of Schedule 7 of our constitution which placed police and public order under the state government. In course of time this became the excuse for all central governments to neglect their constitutional responsibility under 355 as Schedule 7 overrode Article 355. Our constitution makers ignored that Schedule 7 was inserted by the Colonial government in the 1935 Govt.of India Act to weaken the Congress party in the 1930s. Still they copied it in our constitution.
Balachandran quoted famous Oxford professor David Steinberg's essay on " The 1935 Govt.of India Act": " By giving Indian politicians a great deal of power at the provincial level, while denying them responsibility at the Centre it was hoped that the Congress Party, the only national party would disintegrate into a series of provincial fiefdoms". Balachandran has called for amending the Constitution to modify Schedule 7 to place concurrent responsibility on the centre. He also said that the present "strong" Modi government should do this as a challenge just as they had implemented the GST idea.
During his visit he was invited by the India Office of the US State Department to give them a presentation on his new book. A leading local organization led by Asif Ismail ( American Bazaar) which promotes closer Indo-US relations organised Balachandran's lecture at the prestigious National Press Club in Washington DC on September 7. This was supported by the India Initiative of the Georgetown University. The moderator was Prof. Stephen Tankhel of the American University, author of a well known book on Lashkar e Tayaba. Senior community leaders, Journalists, retired US federal officials and think tank representatives were present.