Significance of Inter-State Council for Internal Security
The nation can only progress if the State and the Centre work shoulder to shoulder. With reference to internal security it is not possible to strengthen it if intelligence exchange is not improved. Chairing the 11th meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) on July 13, 2016 Prime Minister emphasized the significance of Inter-State Council for Internal Security.
Over the last few decades, the dividing line between internal and external security has blurred considerably, with the respective facets of the two aspects of security often enmeshed. ‘Law and Order’, which is a subject in the State list, can no longer be exclusively left to the States. Evolving and deepening nexus between crime and terrorism/insurgency bears testimony to the fact that ‘law and order’ issues have wider pan-Indian ramifications with obvious connections to external security, given India’s inimical neighbourhood. Also, insurgents often do not recognise state boundaries and have exploited to their advantage the lack of synergy amongst the States and between the States and the Centre. A case in point is the current version of Left Wing Extremism, which thrives in the central eastern tribal belt by exploiting the gaps along inter-state boundaries.
In this regard, the ISC is the best constitutional forum at the disposal of the Union Government. The ISC, a forum that facilitates cooperative federalism, is an ideal setting to deliberate on the interests of the people, address their problems and take collective and concrete decisions.
Considering the all-pervasive and grave threats to national security, it is important that the Centre takes the most urgent steps for finalising the National Security Policy (NSP) and the machinery for its administration, in consultation with the States, in a non-partisan way.
Terrorism and other federal offences cannot be dealt with by the existing security management apparatus. It is necessary that the Prime Minister undertakes urgent discussions with the Chief Ministers to resolve all doubts and issues raised by the States. The ISC, with the Prime Minister at its helm, could prove to be a game changer in this regard. In the same stead, it would be useful for the Central Government to consider inducting representatives of the States in the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) and in the National Security Council (NSC). Similarly, a NCTC should also be established by going beyond party lines.
In the current circumstances, a seemingly ‘law and order’ issue has the potential to cascade into a serious national security threat. As a general practice, instead of progressively improving the capability of their police and security maintenance apparatus for effectively dealing with disturbances, the States have been perennially seeking assistance from the Centre. The Centre too has been adopting a mathematical ‘battalion approach’ by pumping in troops without associating itself with the root cause of the challenge. Countering such threats by the governments at all levels cannot be done in silos. Ownership shall have to be taken up by the Centre and States and regular ISC meetings could provide the necessary impetus for the executive to act, as warranted.