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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Chandra panel for radical reforms,govt in a spot

V K Singh and the MoD was a symptom of the communication break between MoD and military

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi |
July 9, 2012 1:45:20 am

With the Naresh Chandra panel making some radical suggestions on internal security and integration of various intelligence agencies,including military establishment units,the government is now grappling with the implementation of the voluminous report.

The report of the high-powered committee was submitted to the Prime Minister in May and the thinking in the government is to share,maybe,an abridged version with “stake-holders”,including ministries concerned,intelligence agencies and even state governments.

It is understood that among the key recommendations are creation of a secretary-level post of an Intelligence Adviser; setting up of councils to oversee functioning of the energy and high-technology sector and positioning of personnel from the three armed forces in the echelons of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The panel is said to have taken the view that the recent friction between retired Army Chief General V K Singh and the defence ministry was a symptom of the communication break between bureaucrats of the MoD and the military establishment,which could be bridged with better representation from the men in uniform in the ministry.

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The committee has already made a presentation of its recommendations before the Prime Minister,National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and members of the National Security Council (NSC). More such exercises are underway.

However,some members of the panel told The Indian Express that the scheme of eliciting feedback on specific suggestions from agencies and state governments may muddle sensitive decisions,which can be implemented straightaway by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Some of the major recommendations,which are currently under scrutiny,include:

* Need for a clear mandate to minimise overlaps and turf issues among intelligence agencies,including those in the military establishment. One suggestion is for the creation of a new post of Intelligence Adviser,probably functioning from the Cabinet Secretariat,who will coordinate major joint intelligence operations and take “highest-level” decisions on intelligence affairs.

* Setting up of councils on the lines of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) for crucial sectors like energy and high-technology. The panel noted that functioning of sectors such as these are overseen by not one,but several ministries and an umbrella organisation,like a council,was needed for an integrated approach.

* It is understood that recommendation for representatives from the three services for important desks in the MoD initially found resistance among some members in view of the absence of domain knowledge. But it was finally approved in the final draft. There is a suggestion for several posts (from joint secretary level to director level) to be given to the Services in a phased manner.

* Issue of need for an integrated approach to tackle cyber security has been dealt with at length with a clear indication that this should be done with help from experts in the private sector. Again,an integrated approach has been suggested and this comes at a time when the NSA has announced that a new “architecture” to tackle cyber attacks in critical areas is under construction.

Other issues include the need to refurbish the defence procurement set-up and greater private participation in the defence sector; need for restraint while blacklisting defence firms (which can be done in a sectoral manner) and for legislative measures to protect civil servants,who have acted in good faith,from prosecution and persecution.

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