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Know Then Thyself!

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By SANJEEV CHOPRA

The last week saw so many cultural programmes at the LBSNAA: on Tuesday we had ‘Sapatapadi: a musical rendition of seven different dance forms‘, followed by two days of ‘India Day’ celebrations over the weekend, which involved so much rigour, vigour, passion, hard work and attention to detail that this is material for more than one column; and because I should not miss out on acknowledging the work put in by so many officers – I will devote an additional column sometime in the middle of the week, if the editor agrees! In terms of academia, we had a very successful module on negotiation with Himanshu Rai, the director of IIM Indore, and we have also signed an MoU with the institution for active engagement and collaboration on issues of mutual interest: case studies on public, infrastructure and regulatory regimes and development interventions. Both the institutions will also work together to support the LBSNAA alumni in their quest for higher learning, including doctoral work in public management issues. Likewise, we are working with the National Law School University of India, New Delhi, on an LLM programme for the officers who have cleared their law examinations in Phase-1 and Phase- 2 of their training. This is additional work, and optional, with the Academy just playing the role of a facilitator. The moot point however is that officers joining Administration these days are all very keen to continue their engagement with the academia, and they wish to pursue their interests in a well- defined pattern so that, over a period of time, they will also be known as domain experts in their own right. This also fits well into the government thinking on the subject that mid- career training and foreign study should all be geared towards the broad thematic area in which the officer is interested. We also had sessions on Adaptive Leadership in which it became clear that we were often trying adaptive leadership to address issues that were best left to technical /institutional arrangements. The key message was that, for a group as diverse as ours, it is best to understand the situation before planning our course of action. Today we need management gurus and pedagogic kits to explain what was in our days explained through readings in literature: Know Then Thyself, Presume not God to scan… The proper study of mankind is Man! Officers have also sent in their contributions to the Essay Competition on National Security, and the prize winning authors will be announced later this week. This year we are also conducting a Special Seminar to discuss issues of Safety, Security and Defence, and also understand the specific nuances and interconnectedness of these. To understand how these three terms are distinct, we take the example of a car. The seat belt is a safety device. It protects you in the event of an accident. The car lock prevents your car from being stolen, but to defend your person, you will need to have a bodyguard or an armed escort. Although, in general terms, “Every Man’s War” by Raghu Raman does set the context on why every citizen should have at least basic understanding and inkling of what steps should be taken to ensure the collective safety and security at the level of the individual and community! When a community agitates that public buildings should have functional and safe fire exit routes and the public spaces have adequate lighting, they are seeking ‘safety’. However, the beat policeman gives a sense of security. Thus, while the fire brigade ensures safety, the police is there to protect you (provide security) and the army is there to defend you against external aggression. However, these classical distinctions do not work in today’s security scenario, where external aggression is not through conventional armed forces – on the contrary the preferred mode of destabilising a regime is low intensity conflict, terrorism and guerrilla tactics, fomenting trouble and exploiting the fault lines which exist in a dormant state in almost every society . These elements can be countered, not by armies, but by the active engagement of citizens in general – but the security prism has to be explained to them. As such, it is important for citizens to be in the forefront of defence: in fact an active and alert public will ensure that rumours are scotched, fake news is reported and incidents in public space are captured on the smart phone to facilitate investigation and follow up. It also bears repetition that national security is a national concern- and it is not just the Army which goes to war, but the nation itself which goes to war, and therefore every facility and utility in the country must also have a clear understanding of its role in situation of crisis. For, whether it is using all logistics for the transport of troops and munitions, or the use of public buildings and institutions as emergency response centres, or the mobilisation of civilians to protect critical infrastructure – a proper assessment of what can be done and how is an important exposure to all members of the senior civil services irrespective of the cadre or the job profile. Also, for most issues that affect our internal security today – a three pronged approach – political dialogue, area dominance by security and development interventions, and efficient delivery of public services by administration is a ‘’necessary imperative’’.