Thursday, February 28, 2013

Intelligence Failure

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Our intelligence apparatus has become highly politicized and used by the ruling parties for their own benefits but today the power hungry bureaucrats and big corporation fed media are creating the security scare in the country to further impose the ‘intelligence’ network our us much to the danger of even intruding in our private domain which would be detrimental for democracy in the country.

It is not surprising that whenever a bomb  blasts or something happen the daily barking channels start giving us names of people engaged in such blasts as if this information was known to them in advance. We have ‘reporters’ who bring these ‘break news’ to submit it to people and then discussion revolve around the ‘expose’, which actually is nothing but the intelligence game plan. For the journalists who rarely venture out of their newsrooms, such ‘leaks’ give them an aura of ‘investigative’ journalists.

Indian media has become notorious in ‘faking news’ and is closely working with the intelligence people. This close relation between media and intelligence is a matter of grave concern and in fact threat to our freedom of expression and people’s right to have their privacy. It may be possible that many of media reporting and funding emerge from the unaccountable source of these agencies. This dangerous trend has grave implications for India as media has shifted its responsibility from being the ‘fourth estate’ to the Public Relation body of various governments and its intelligence agencies.

It is also a fact that more we crib about the ‘security’ and intelligence ‘failure’, the bigger the opportunity for big business houses and their investments in these sector. After the arms industry, it look that ‘spying’ apparatus are becoming the biggest show of the market. Now the governments are forced to spend huge amount of money and human resource on the so-called security apparatus in the name of ‘public good’ and public ‘safety. The cost of spy cams, CCTV, scanners will be unbearable to put in each place. Right from railway stations, to bus terminuses, chaurahas, schools, shops, colleges, the demand for CCTV is growing and it will become one of the biggest industries in the coming days. The problem is that security scare does not convert into high jobs for jobless youth as government is not keen on jobs in these times of austerity. It will procure more weapons, more security apparatus to help the big industries gain ground in India. It is the way how the international organizations work. They ensure that their product is demanded as that would result in high cost as well as bigger quantity. Given the size of our metropolitan cities, these spy products are going to alter our budgetary provisions. At a time when the country need to focus on health care, poverty reduction and its educational system, these security scare will take away our budget. This is the price of terrorism and war mongering but that is what our right wing fundamentalists always want so that the voices of assertion and share in power structures are always pushed to further marginalization and their brand of nationalism is placed top on the agenda of the nation.

The intelligence network gets legitimacy through media and creates a situation when people are compelled to speak in support of ‘strengthening’ it. Now, the government is talking of National Counter Terrorism Centre ( NCTC) which is being opposed by the states as it would violate the principles of federalism. And this is a Chidambaram idea of making the political leadership virtually redundant and hand over the running of the state in the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats. With power to arrest anyone anywhere in India, such agencies will create more security scare and will remain unaccountable in arresting individuals and will super impose their structures on the state. There is nothing wrong in making a center which does the data analysis and provide inputs to the state but why should policing be allowed to be given to the NCTC without any accountability to states in the name of fight against terrorism.

In 1975 the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi was actually more depended on bureaucracy and her ‘intelligence’.  Prime Minister’s son was actually the boss of Congress Party and had developed larger than life image. He converted the Congress party into a completely spineless class who would be happy to crawl when asked to bend. The result was the total dependency of the government on the ‘intelligence’ and not on their political leaders who were facing flaks for the policies of the government. The ‘intelligent’ people were reporting to the prime minister that the country was very happy with the ‘disciplinary’ measures and hence it would be good if the country goes for the polls. Mrs Gandhi had no other source of information as most of the newspapers were writing what her chums wanted them to write and the intelligence was only looking for ‘political opponents’. The government ordered for polls and the outcome was that Congress party was completely routed in the elections paving the way for the first non-congress government at the Centre.

After the 1977 debacle, there were hundreds of failures. The problem is not that there are no ‘intelligence’ among us but the fact is that governance structure need an over hauling. Today’s intelligence is not about harassing people and reporting to your bosses about our activities but more about doing it yourself and trying to read in between. How is a person who is supposed to pick up his gun and fire, one day become an intelligence operative?  What does an intelligence person ask about a programe being organized anywhere. ‘Who are the sponsors or leaders of the programme ? What is the matter? The fact is they are not doing any analysis but only spying for the government to hound the opponents. And they do not really know what the ideological positions of persons are and how democracy respect difference of opinion.

Each one of us has a story to tell about our encounters with these ‘intelligent’ brains. Our system need to change and intelligence operations are not meant to make political capital out of something. In this multi polar world, all those who joins our agencies first need to understand the secular character of state and the rights of minorities, marginalized to voice their protest. If our agencies go out in public with an idea of ‘we verses them’, I am sure, they cannot really help anyone except helping the right wing forces and their favorites in the media who are ready for those sound-bites  which gladden the heart of right wing fundamentalists. They should more focus on their work and stop these ‘leakages’ as most of their work would not be able to sustain in any court of law but their sustained campaign against minorities and marginalized will only create social unrest in the country.
I have many such encounters when the intelligence people came along with local journalists and introduced each one of them as journalists. And ridiculously they ask questions about ‘what book you read’, ‘who is your favorite author’, who do you like ‘Gandhi or Mao’ and such nonsensical questions. Can any intelligence operative really get answer from these stupid questions? Is it important for us to like what our governments want to like? Do our intelligence people know that there are millions of people who may neither like Gandhi nor Mao. Is it necessary for anyone to hate Gandhi to love Mao? And what is so dangerous about reading Mao when everything is available on the web world. And most importantly, Mao was not anyone but leader of a revolutionary movement in world’s biggest country. It is disturbing to see that media become party in spreading the ‘intelligence version’ as ‘break news’. This trend is a great threat to political freedom of the country. The more the thin line between media and intelligence disappear, the bigger would be the threat for the independence of media and free thinking traditions of the country which are the heart of any democratic dissent and deliberations. The diversity of ideas strengthen democracy and attempt to paint them anti national and against ‘rule of law’ shows the antipathy of the power elite towards world of ideas and freedom.

For a country like India, it is more important that we do not become a party to instigate false alarms and baseless information which spread rumors and chaos in our society. For that our intelligence agencies must understand the enormity of the situation and diversity of our society. Just creating media frenzy they would only help in strengthening the TRPs of the news channels but not to the cause of justice in society. It is time, our policing is strengthened and communities are taken into confidence and security scare is not created all around in the name of ‘national security’. The day our marginalized and minorities consider them part of system and their participation is ensured in our power structure, the meaning of ‘intelligence’ will change. An intelligence service cannot be just to harass and defame the minorities and the marginalized who are fighting for their genuine democratic rights democratically. May be our political class is much more intelligent than our intelligence organizations and give them good lesson about India’s multi-cultural societies and great pluralistic heritage so that they do not hound the Muslims and the marginalized in the name of ‘national security’.

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