Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bomb Blasts in Jaipur - what can the Indian leadership do?

Yesterday evening Jaipur was rocked with 8 bomb blasts, the blasts occurred within 12 min.

Unfortunately such terror incidents have become frequent in India, within the last few months we have seen bombs going off in Hyderabad, Ajmer and now Jaipur!

Apart from the tragedy of the blasts themselves, a more disturbing fact is that new, smaller cities are being targeted.

I was thinking about what our government can do to avoid these tragedies, I am no expert on the subject but still the following points comes to my mind.

1. Strengthening of criminal justice system - The criminal justice system in our country has largely collapsed, the police is not as efficient as it should be, Public prosecutors are not the best people in their profession and the court cases drag for years.

There is an urgent need to modernize and built an efficient police force for our cities, Also needed is reform of our judicial process so that courts can dispense justice faster and the country needs to attract the best legal talent to fight cases on behalf of the state.

Apart from internal security, There is a civilian angle to it as well - a large number of Indians are victims of delayed justice.

Strengthening of courts will help us reduce corruption, promote rule of law in general and improve our overall investment climate.

Right now, in disputes "Might" wins most of the times, people dont even bother to seek a judicial recourse, as they know it doesn't work.

People indulge in corruption (and break the law all the time in general) as they know even if they are caught, either they will bribe their way out - thats more corruption, or the courts will take years (if not decades) to come to a conclusion and by that time, proving their culpability will be almost impossible for the prosecutors.

Having said all this - Execution of these reforms is tough part. Law enforcement reforms and judicial reforms will take a long time, will not be easy and will require an indomitable political will.

2. The above is a long term measure, What do we do in the short term - to avoid the next blast?
There are no easy answers, Our central, state governments have to work with intelligence agencies and local law enforcement to avoid these kind of tragedies. Quality of governance has to improve, our intelligence abilities have to be improved, and our public's security-consciousness has to be improved.

The department of homeland in the US for example has put into place a vast system of procedures and processes to assess security risk at any given point of time. There are ratings assigned for the threat level at any given point, and security precautions are taken accordingly.

The system was created after 9/11 and even though has its share of critics, it has definitely helped raise awareness among the general public. Any threat level changes are widely reported in the media and also displayed in a lot of public places. Any high threat level will make the general public much more conscious to identify any suspected activity.

3. Geo-political issues such as Kashmir if resolved will put India and Pakistan on the road of peaceful co-existence. However this is a complex, long pending issue and resolution to it is not entirely in control of Indian political leadership.

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