And there is one more bomb blast. This time, outside the Delhi High Court. Many are dead, many more are injured. The excuses and accusations have begun. As have the high pitched, almost frenzied, coverage of news channels. Everyone has a view as to whether the bombs were type x or type y. Whether group ‘A’ or group ‘B’ was involved. The old excuses are dusted out of the cupboard – where they have been sitting since the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai and used 5 times since then. Intelligence Failure is a standard excuse – and that is apparent. Security apparatus like CCTV’s and scanners not working, is another excuse – and that is also apparent. One just has to go to a mall to understand how lax either security or checking mechanisms are. The accusations group says that the Government is soft on terror. That India needs better anti terror laws. While both sides may have a point – more attacks take place, more families are bereaved and the intrinsic sense of safety and security lies in tatters.
The key department in the war against terror is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). However, if you look at their portfolio that is not all that they do. The MHA is divided into various departments and divisions that handle different aspects of the ministry’s portfolio. The departments include :
- The department of Border Management – dealing with management of borders, including coastal borders.
- Department of Internal Security dealing with police, law and order and rehabilitation
- Department of J & K Affairs – dealing with the constitutional provisions in respect of the State of Jammu & Kashmir and all other matters relating to the State
- Department of Home dealing with the notification of assumption of office by the President and Vice President, notification of appointment of the Prime Minister and other Ministers.
- Department of Official Language – dealing with the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution relating to official languages and the provisions of the Official Languages Act, 1963.
- Department of States – Dealing with Centre-State relations, Inter-State relations, Union Territories and Freedom Fighters’ pension
If you thought that wasn’t enough – there is more. The MHA is split up into 17 divisions – each with its own area of expertise. These are the Administrative, Border Management, Centre State, Co-ordination Division, Disaster Management, Finance, Foreigners, Freedom Fighters & Rehabilitation, Human Rights, Internal Security, Jammu & Kashmir, Judicial, Naxal Management, North Eastern, Police, Police Modernisation, Policy Planning and finally Union Territories Divisions. Also, divisions like Internal Security & Police are further sub divided into discrete divisions with very different scope of work. For example, Internal Security 1 deals with internal security and law & order, while Internal Security 2 deals with Arms & Ammunition, Narcotics, and the National Security Act. Similarly, Police 1 is the cadre controlling authority vis-à-vis the IPS while Police 2 deals with Central Police Forces.
Essentially, if you were looking at this through the point of view of management – then what you have on your hands is Ministry that is creaking under the weight of all that it manages. Its span of control is too high, there are too few people at the top managing it – and it is muddled in terms of all the things that it does. In all likelihood a department that is supposed to co-ordinate between states is possibly keeping secrets from the division that is in charge of intra ministry co-ordination work & vice versa . Similarly, the Human Rights division may be in direct conflict with the Internal Security division. From a management perspective such diverse roles are possibly going to end up in paralysis – and it actually shows from the way the ministry has been functioning. Centre State relationship is possibly at an all time low. Internal Security is in shambles. Police reforms are in cold storage. The judicial division seems to be suffering acute paralysis – be it in terms of the IPC or the CrPC. The Police Modernisation Division seems to be a figment of bureaucracy’s imagination.
To be effective the Ministry has to be restructured and re constituted. There needs to be coherence in the role of each ministry that is created.
- The Minister for Home & Internal Security – Ideally speaking it will have 3 ministers of state reporting into the HM – the minister for law & order, the minister for Int. Security, and the minister for ‘borders’ including coastal boarders. it is responsible and accountable for law, order & security within the borders of the country. It could include both the Internal Security Divisions, work relating to Crime & Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), The Policy Planning Department, the Naxal Management Division and those aspects of J&K and the North East that deal with security. Ideally speaking it should spin off VIP security – also under its remit – as a separate department – with its own hierarchy – and let the police focus on Law and Order. Also this ministry would have the judicial division that deals with the IPC and the CrPC. It may also want to contemplate the setting up of a Central Prosecution Service. The ministry will also continue to look at passport, visa, immigration, citizenship, overseas citizenship of India and related issues.
- The Ministry for Federal Affairs – Possibly one of the most important ministries in the coming years. The role of this ministry is to ensure that there is adequate co-ordination between the states in terms of legislation, taxation, economic policies. This ministry should also look at the non-security related issues of J&K, the North Eastern States and the Union Territories. This Ministry will also look at the implementation of the Constitutional and legal provisions relating to Official Languages.
Divisions such as the Human Rights Division could possibly move under the ambit of the NHRC – a statutory autonomous body, and the Disaster Management cell could move under the ambit of the NDMA – which in any case reports to the Prime Minister.
India is not Great Britain. The Ministry of Home Affairs based on the British Home Office may have worked in kinder gentler times. But, in an era of complexities you need specialized ministries. Better to split the function and deliver on each count rather than keep it all together and fall flat on all counts.
for those who are interested, the organisational chart for the MHA is here