The citizens of this country have valid reasons to be concerned over indications of poor morale and a deteriorating esprit de corps in the Mumbai Police and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), our external intelligence agency.
2. One may have the best of technical capabilities and unlimited resources, but if the human element responsible for using them effectively is disgruntled and pulling in different directions, our counter-terrorism machinery runs the danger of failing once again as shockingly as it did on 26/11 of last year.
3. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P.Chidambaram, National Security Adviser M.K.Narayanan and Congress (I) leader Sonia Gandhi show no signs of being the least concerned over the poor state of morale in the Mumbai Police and the R&AW.
4. One does not need to have access to inside information to realise that the staff morale is far from satisfactory in two segments of our counter-terrorism machinery that will have to play an important role in preventing another 26/11.We have had three acts of mass casualty terrorism committed in Mumbai by Pakistan-based terrorists.
5. To prevent another----either in Mumbai or elsewhere--- we need a revamped and rejuvenated police machinery in Mumbai which will act as a team in detecting and neutralising any new conspiracy. The role of the R&AW, which has the task of monitoring the plans and activities of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its terrorist creations, will be equally important. If the officers of the Mumbai Police and the R&AW are in a disspirited state of mind, the terrorists from Pakistan and their ISI creators will find the road open for a repeat of 26/11.
6. One has to only read carefully the reports appearing with disturbing frequency in the media to realise that the morale of the human element is in a poor shape. When morale and esprit de corps are poor, the human elements in the counter-terrorism machinery spend their time more in countering each other through the medium of an obliging media than in countering the terrorists.
7. The stories that some senior officers of the Mumbai Police are disseminating about each other and the serious allegations that they are making against each other do not speak of a happy, contented and energetic officer cadre on the go against the terrorists. They speak of the worrisome state of inter-personal relations among sections of the senior officers.
8.If inter-personal tensions are the cause of the poor morale in the Mumbai police, inter-service tensions are the cause of the malaise in the R&AW. When Indira Gandhi created the R&AW in September 1968, she had desired that it should not be a carbon copy of the Intelligence Bureau dominated by police officers. It was her wish that the new organisation should recruit its officers from a much wider reservoir in the open market.
9. After a little more than 30 years, those who entered the officer cadre of the organisation from the open market have reached senior levels and rightly aspire to become the head of the organisation. It is a legitimate aspiration. Some of the reported decisions regarding promotions at senior levels have rightly or wrongly created an impression that an attempt is being made to deny them a chance to occupy the chair of the head of the organisation.
10. The Special Task Force For the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus headed by G.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW, had in 2000 recommended that we should study and adopt the good prctices of the concept of the intelligence community as it has evolved over the years in the US. This concept looks upon all the intelligence agencies as constituting a single community and all decisions--- whether in resect of human or material resources---- are required to be taken in the over-all interest of the community and the nation as a whole instead of in the interest of any individual agency of the community.
11. This recommendation was accepted by the Government, but there appears to have been foot-dragging in its implementation. Had the intelligence community concept been followed in decision-making, the kind of inter-service tensions that one finds in the R&AW now might not have been there.
12. The Prime Minister has an important role in the maintenance of morale and efficiency in the intelligence community similar to the role played by the US President. He should personally look into the reasons for the poor morale not only in the R&AW, but also in the Mumbai Police and address them in order to promote team work in our counter-terrorism machinery. ( 26-11-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinetr Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )