To begin with, I admit that the word “security” is used too vaguely in our conversations, without understanding the situation or feeling to which it truly refers. For most of us living in metropolitans, security can be described as the ability of having a Mc Donald burger anytime of the day, but for our counterparts in say Kashmir it would mean being frisked on your way to the local fruit vendor. It would be awfully offending to be subjected to such checks in Delhi, our sense of security lies in the belief that the perpetrators either live in distant corners of the country or are locked up. Thus, from the force which guarantees this to the actions involved in achieving it, our experiences and judgments are to a large extent city\state specific, evolving subtly as we move along the country.
The ability to feel secure arises out of the various societal formations- family, city, state, nation, political system, government, army, police, religion and so on. If one fails, the other stands up to protect, a virtuous overlapping, but flip the page and a new picture emerges. The contradictions amongst these institutions are far stronger than the support they provide, often ugly and thus ignored. In a country as diverse as India, these contradictions have played havoc beyond belief, where religion has acquired a power akin to that of the political system. In the time of internal crisis, this very guarantee of security is dependant upon the side chosen by those who promise to provide it, biased towards one group, violating the rights of the rest.
The bias, which has in our country has been accepted as a way of life, finds its roots in the insecurities deep embedded in human nature. The rationing of security is simply done on profit basis- the profit being an assurance of money, fame, power etc in the future. Wronging the minority in such situations is far easier, as the promises they hold are weak and risky. The risk averse nature chooses the easier path, help those who can help you. To be equal the country would be required to undergo a transition of Mammothian proportions, finally ending the contradictions.
On a personal account, I do feel safe to a large extent, but here again I feel safe being a part of this nation, believing that we are capable to protect ourselves from the outsiders, and closer home I dare not step out of my home after 8 pm, the insiders are far more vile. The chances of preventing a war with the neighboring country are higher than that of preventing another Gujrat riot or the Mumbai blasts. Just like the sensex depends upon investor confidence, internal security depends upon citizens’ confidence. Sadly this confidence has found different levels among different groups, ranging from blind faith to utter mistrust. The distorted politics of our country have been the single largest reason behind this lack of confidence, thus the absence of the feeling of security.
With six riots wreathing havoc this year, there has arisen considerable doubt whether we will be able to witness the government fulfilling its promise. But this was not always the case, for decades India used the strongest of methods to squash internal threats. Air power, tanks and artillery are no stranger to this country, terrorism being met with great resolve. The army being the biggest threat to the malign motives of groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed or Lashkar-e-Toiba, has proved its mettle in various situations. The populace has shown immense faith in the army, supporting it at every step.
The problem lies in the choice that the power brokers make. With the BJP blaming Islam and muslims for every act of terrorism, they choose to appease the hindu vote bank which leaves the muslims feeling humiliated at every step. The UPA on the other hand chose the other extreme, denial of any muslim involvement, in fact exposing the hindu face of terrorism. This is just one example of how security has become synonymous to religion. When we demand for a more secure nation, we demand for a nation where security is not provided based on your religion but is equally distributed.
We demand a nation where failure of security is not just another issue. The task forces have to be well trained and not learning on the job. At some point we have to stop blaming them for everything as they are also resource constrained because we as citizens never asked for it. This investment taken to be non-developmental has left the forces under resourced and under equipped. The states have to be supported in law and order management by the centre and the blame game needs to end somewhere. Security is our right and ensuring it also depends on us.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/russmorris/20048973/]