Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's apprehensions that the far-reaching powers assigned to the planned “National Counter-Terrorism Centre” can be misused is not ill-founded (“9 CMs flay move on counter-terror hub,” Feb. 18). The contention of several Chief Ministers that the Centre is out to violate the federal structure of the State is also well understood. Yet, it cannot be denied that unless such drastic measures are instituted to curb acts of terror, we will be rendered helpless in the long run. Those opposing the move should keep the national interest above petty party politics and support the Centre.
K. Nehru Patnaik,
That tackling terror is being considered seriously by the Centre is welcome. But the remarks of nine Chief Ministers and a former Chief Minister countering it as if it is an act of encroaching on the turf of the States needs to be refined. When terrorism has vastly endangered the entire country, attempts to halt its moves are needed. Poverty, natural calamities, a lust for power, dishonesty and politics and misuse of modern instruments are the reasons why terror acts spread. The State governments must identify vulnerable core areas of terrorism and monitor them with their limited powers. Cordial Centre-State relations are a must. Swami Vivekananda's words are the need of the hour: “Help and not fight, assimilation and not destruction, harmony and peace and not dissension.”
The UPA government seems to blessed with an ‘anti-Midas touch' so much so that whatever initiative it undertakes always ends up stirring up a hornets' nest. While there can be no two opinions on the urgent need to form a centralised agency on the lines of the Homeland Security' service in the U.S., the high-handed approach of not taking into confidence the State governments on such a vital measure smacks of arrogance. There is no guarantee that such an agency with Draconian powers will not be abused by the ruling party to target its political opponents. The misuse of the CBI is a pointer.
Setting up such a unit is welcome, as terrorism is a petrifying and blood-curdling monster. However, since the issue is akin to “law and order” as well, consultation and consensus are a sine qua non to make the enactment meaningful, effective, and bias/misuse-free. The U.S. model of enactment may not fit the bill as India is a country of several States with marked diversities. While the U.S. is advanced, ours is a fast developing economy. Let arbitrariness and unilateralism give way to a consensus-based-conscious legislation by taking the States into confidence where their interests are safeguarded, before a Central law is enacted.
The NCTC, in the hands of the UPA, will turn into another hatchet like the CBI and NIA with which the ruling alliance can cut any State to size.
Col C.V. Venugopalan (retd.),
A third of Chief Ministers of the Indian Union have in one voice summarily opposed the formation of the centre. Union Home Affairs Minister P. Chidambaram, instead of adding more strength and power to the existing security laws and which have to be enforced with a sense of discipline and impartiality by security personnel, appears to be busy floating a new outfit. Is it a camouflage for his Ministry's poor show in checking terrorism?
While the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines on the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie is unfortunate (“Diplomatic row brewing over killing of fishermen off Kerala,” Feb.17 and “Italian vessel erred in judgment,” Feb.18), a clear picture of what happened must be established. It must not be forgotten that the jurisdiction of India is supreme and that justice must be ensured.
In this age of advanced electronic communication and technology, the Italian mariners could have contacted the Naval and Coast Guard officials before snuffing out the lives of the fishermen. Our fishermen should also be vigilant and use bright paint or fly a white flag on their boats.
M. Somasekhar Prasad,
Expecting poor fishermen to be aware of maritime rules and regulations is to expect too much. The government should ensure that fishermen are provided with affordable GPS devices. The Navy should also dispatch its aircraft once in a while to fly over our waters and keep an eye on things. In this case, the guilty should not be spared.
Rajesh K. Pandey,
Personnel on a commercial ship are not anti-terrorist experts. Some shipping companies deploy military personnel. All pirate attacks are done by a dhow or a fishing vessel under the guise of laying nets or ropes across shipping lanes. When a ship touches the rope, boats come closer and pirates climb aboard. If our fishermen came to within shooting distance, it means that the boat was too close for comfort. For a large vessel, a boat 50-100 metres away is considered to be too close. To avoid this situation, a good sea patrol should be maintained up to 24 nautical miles on the west coast of India as it is a main shipping lane to West Asia. For a large ship to take evasive manoeuvres with many fishing vessels all along the coast is impossible. By doing so, a tanker, in some instances, may rip open her hull and cause severe oil pollution. A captain may be jailed and fined heavily. Life at sea as a mariner is no longer a joy.
Surveillance by frontline health functionaries, viz, Accredited Social Health Activists and Multipurpose Health assistants, is vital (editorial, Feb. 18). In the Multi Purpose Health Worker programme of the 1980s, a health functionary used to visit every house once a fortnight and the report was pasted and signed on the wall using a stencil. A revival of this system improves surveillance of all events and indicates to the community the physical availability of health functionaries. Currently, private medical care, though very strong in its presence, hardly follows the protocol in malaria treatment and rarely reports vital events. Stringent regulations as far as private medical care is concerned and encouraging frontline health workers will help in the fight against malaria.
Dr. Araveeti Ramayogaiah,