Lessons from Shin Bet
Delhi, accustomed to dealing with oppressive security measures thanks to its resident and visiting VIPs, could take a few lessons from the Israelis. Despite the heavy deployment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal security as well as commandoes and an elite anti-terrorism squad flown in from Israel, what stood out was how unobtrusive they were. Apart from the security guards at the lifts and approaches to the fifth floor of the Taj Diplomatic Enclave which had been taken over by them, guests at the hotel hardly noticed. The Israelis were everywhere, in the lobby, gardens, the road outside the hotel and even in the kitchen and room service section, yet they stayed inconspicuous but alert and ensured that hotel services were unaffected, quite unlike the heavy-handed NSG and policemen deployed in Netanyahu’s outer security rings.
There is some light relief from the depressing events involving the Supreme Court and its seniormost judges. The joke is to do with the fact that four of the key players in the controversy all have the same last name. There is Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India, who is at the centre of the storm. Then there is Justice Arun Mishra, who was handed the case involving the suspicious death of Justice Loya by the CJI. It was a controversial decision since accusations were made that he has a history of giving favourable judgments for the state of Gujarat where the BJP has been in power for two decades. The third is Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to the prime minister, who drove to the CJI’s house the day after the mutiny by four judges and made the lame excuse that he was there to deliver a New Year card—13 days late! Finally, there is Manan Mishra (below), chairman of the Bar Council, who is playing peacemaker. In reality, the joke goes, it is the Gang of Four against the Brahmin Lobby, or, alternatively, Misra calling Mishra.
No-Show for Armed Forces
Despite the chest-thumping and public show of nationalism connected with the Indian armed forces, this government does not practise what it preaches. The prime minister has chosen to give a miss to all three important days for the armed forces in recent weeks—Air Force Day (October 8), Navy Day (December 4) and, last week, Army Day as well. It is an established norm for the PM and defence minister to be present along with senior cabinet colleagues at the annual functions held at the residences of the respective chiefs in Delhi. The Army Day on January 15 saw not a single union minister, not even the defence minister, at the function which also has defence attaches from embassies, retired and senior armed forces personnel and journalists who cover defence. The defence minister felt it more important to interact with a delegation from ASSOCHAM while PM Modi was attending an India-Israeli Business Summit in Delhi! The Hypocritic Oath?
Unlike Brajesh Mishra who was careful to ring-fence his security role from any political activity during his tenure as National Security Adviser to then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee (he even resigned from the party), the current incumbent, Ajit Doval, seems to have no such compunctions. His proximity to Narendra Modi is well known and neither he nor the Modi government have bothered to respond to charges that he was present at a BJP-RSS meeting held at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s house to discuss the strategy for the upcoming elections in the North-east. The Left parties are planning to question the government in parliament on how a senior government functionary was present at a BJP poll campaign meeting. Sources say that Doval had gone to discuss security issues with Singh but since the poll strategy meeting was still going on, he was invited inside.