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Bad move


It does not come as a surprise that all opposition Chief Ministers, and even those belonging to non-Congress UPA parties, have objected to the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). The primary reason is that, like a number of other initiatives, it too has been pulled out of a hat without any consultation with the stakeholders. As has been the case with proposed laws such as the new anti-communal one, or even that on the Lokpal, it indicates a growing culture of law by diktat. A number of these laws that seek to direct the culture of governance are either formulated by the non-parliamentary entity of the NAC, or are inspired by it. All these laws seem to be aimed at converting the people of India to a certain way of life thought ‘appropriate’ by members of a certain elite, who have decided what is good for the rest of the country. The NAC has been created specifically to keep Sonia Gandhi at the Centre of things, and those coming up with these ideas draw legitimacy purely from their proximity to the Congress President.
It must be noted that all the families in a large swathe of countries in Africa and Asia that took ‘proprietary’ control (and are being unceremoniously evicted in recent times), did so by turning constitutional bodies into rubber stamps. Multi-party politics was sought to be diminished and eliminated by branding all opposition as ‘anti-national’. Powerful secret services, accountable to no one but the ‘leader’, were established to deal effectively with dissent. Their unbridled powers, granted by rubber-stamp parliaments, were used so oppressively and in such blind self-interest that they provoked just that which was sought to be prevented – outright rebellion.
All the Chief Ministers, who are objecting to such unaccountable entities being created by using the need to counter terrorism as an excuse, are doing so because their sound political instincts are ringing the alarm bells. This latest initiative has to be seen in the light of other government initiatives, such as seeking curbs on new forms of media under the garb of communal harmony. In fact, a vast majority of the complaints sent by government to these organisations have had to do with political criticism.
India won its freedom in 1947 not only from foreign rule, but also feudalism and an archaic social system. The people are fully aware of their rights, not so much because of their knowledge of the constitution, but also because the spirit of India is democratic. Nowhere in the world has terrorism been fought successfully through draconian measures. It requires a scientific mix of expertise, which cannot be built up by appropriating unconstitutional powers, but through hard work from the grassroots up. In a society where ‘trained’ firemen of Dehradun, for instance, do not know better than try to put out an electrical fire with water, what level of response can be expected against determined and single-minded terrorists? In the chaotic conditions that prevail on the streets of India, how is the average cop to retain his understanding of right and wrong; normal or abnormal? With the laws being broken more by the powerful than the poor, how is the law-enforcer going to get the moral authority to stand up and be counted?
India has faced several kinds of terrorism from the time of the Partition riots. The people have learned that it all comes from the mind and from an enabling environment. Terrorists can operate only if they receive support from within the local community. Over the years, it has been India’s democracy that has cut away this support base, almost entirely wiping out certain kinds of extremist activity. The people have learned not to get taken in by emotive issues or appeals to fundamentalist ideologies. The major role in combating this has been that of a free media, which has laid bare all the ‘politricks’. In fact, a flourishing press serves as one of the most effective ‘intelligence agencies’. The media does so by functioning within the everyday laws of the land.  There is no reason that any other agency should need to subvert the constitutional rights to achieve its ends. Any institution crafted without consultation with the stake-holders and which does not clearly lay down procedure has no place in a democratic society.