Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time for security for politicians to go!

Much has been said about the horrific attack on Mumbai. My purpose today is not to talk about that as I am still very angry and will only end up bashing politicians and bureaucrats. More politician bashing is only going to be more and won't really serve a purpose.

One of the recurring themes through the course of this week has been to withdraw state provided security from politicians and bureaucrats. This suggestion makes a lot of sense to me. It is not because I think that would 'serve them right' as a lot of people believe. I think a larger more important policy shift can be achieved from this move.

In India neta’s (small, big or pint sized), bureaucrats, public servants and even the neighborhood paanwalla get a PSO for their personal security. This decision is based on an analysis of threat perception done by the police. In plain speak it says that our law and order situation is so bad that the police cannot hope to protect it’s citizens without assigning a posse of personal security guards to them. And only a lucky few who are in positions of power get it.

My rational is simply this; if you remove this security cover from everyone, except for a handful ministers in government, there will be added incentive for these people to invest their time and energies in providing a law and order apparatus that provides basic safety to all citizens. Their stakes in our safety will suddenly be different as it will also affect their safety. Police will have to account for lapses if any in a way that they don’t have to right now. I believe courts will be set up at double speed for speedy disposal of cases. Basically it will create an environment where being associated with crime will become a bad business decision.

In most developed countries politicians don’t need personal security. Average legislators go about their business like regular people. They have enough faith in the law and order machinery to provide them with protection. Why can’t we build our systems to provide for such security for the average citizens?

On a different note: For the life of me I cannot imagine why an Indian politician who has scores of murder cases against him needs the police to protect him.