Quell LWE with a firm hand
The regularity with which left-wing extremists (LWE) are targeting politicians, officials, police and security personnel has disturbed the internal security fabric of the nation. The recent attack in Chhattisgarh, which claimed several lives including that of former Union Minister V.C. Shukla, has shaken up the government. While all major political parties have condemned the attacks and termed the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful organisation, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has called for coordinated efforts between the Centre and the States to deal with the Naxal menace. At a recent meeting on internal security of Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister reiterated the two-prong strategy of the government to quell Naxalism.
The strategy is to continuously conduct proactive and sustained operations against Maoist extremists while addressing development and governance issues in Naxal-affected areas. There is no gainsaying the fact that these efforts have to be intensified, accelerated and quick, before the LWE lure lot more vulnerable sections of the society into their fold. In hinterland India, issues of governance stare people in their faces, frustrating them and LWE have been promising utopia by overthrowing established governments. This is not going to happen, but what is disturbing is that the internal security situation becomes fragile.
It is sincerely hoped that the governments, irrespective of political affiliations, will strengthen the security and intelligence apparatus in these areas and at the same time invest in development programmes.
In his frank and forthright analysis, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has called for total control by the Home Ministry with a 24x7 operations centre to counter Maoist operations, besides a cohesive strategy encompassing politico-economic-socio aspects of the problem. The Central Armed Police Forces are not geared to take on the Maoists and he suggests that these units should be reorganised, officered, manned, equipped and trained like the Rashtriya Rifles or the Assam Rifles.
Away from LWE, we have good news with the Indian Air Force going to take delivery of C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift transport jet. The aircraft is versatile and it will equip the IAF with strategic and humanitarian capabilities. Compared with the IL-76, the C-17 is said to be easier to handle and its ability to operate from short and rough airstrips gives it added edge. The aircraft can be used to fight terrorism and in low-intensity warfare.
The other good news is that the new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013 has been promulgated. It is hoped that it will promote indigenisation and create a level playing for the Indian defence industry which has started looking up only now. There are makings of a strong defence industrial base, but the path is fraught with challenges.
India’s defence spending has grown manifold since the country announced its first defence budget in 1950. India currently imports approximately 70 per cent of it equipment needs, but the Government’s aim is to reverse this balance. Indeed, Indian defence industry has a long way to go. Happy reading!