NO CONFUSION NEEDED
In the wake of the Pathankot attack, it may have become absolutely necessary to revisit the role and functions of the National Security Advisor. In the absence of an unambiguous delineation of the nature of his work and powers, it will be natural for confusion to prevail. In sensitive situations such as a terrorist atrocity, when time is of the utmost essence and coordination between various arms of the State a prerequisite for an efficient operation to eliminate the jihadis, a lack of clarity about the NSA’s role can cause avoidable delays and even loss of life.
The foremost lesson of the Pathankot operation is that a clear chain of command must be in place in such crises. And though the NSA must necessarily be very much in the loop, it is not God-ordained that he and he alone must have the final say in directing the anti-terror operations at the site of the attack in every attack. For instance, numerous security experts have pointed out that the Pathankot operation from the word go ought to have been led by the commander of the AIRBASE and that, initially, the Punjab police ought to have played a greater role.
Whether or not they are correct is for the political leadership to figure out, but we do believe that to ensure that the jihadis do not get even one extra moment to perpetrate the evil on our soil, we must have in place a standard operating procedure just for situations of the kind that we witnessed a few days ago in Pathankot. It stands to reason that local commanders will have a better handle on the topography, on men and machines at hand, and would be better placed to devise on-the-spot counter-measures in a fast changing situation. Ideally, they ought to be free to make their own assessments and responses. The minute-to-minute to-and-fro between the local commanders and the NSA, so that the latter can have the final word, does not make for a quick and efficient operation.
Admittedly, the institution of the NSA in India is of recent origins. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee’s Principal Secretary, Brajesh Mishra had doubled as NSA as well. Barring an odd flaw or two, Mishra had the necessary nous for the two jobs. And he acquitted himself well in both. It helped that in Vajpayee, Mishra had a most clued-up boss, whose understanding of men and matters has since remained unsurpassed by all his successors. Manmohan Singh had three NSAs, namely, J.N. Dikshit, M.K. Narayanan and Shivshankar Menon.
With a weak and passive PM, Dikshit and Narayanan spent all their time fighting over turf. Following the untimely death of Dikshit in early 2005, when Narayanan took over as NSA, most of the time he and Home Minister P. Chidambaram remained at odds, with Narayanan wrongly believing that he ought to be his own boss, especially when Singh had left him well alone. Eventually, Narayanan was eased out to a Raj Bhawan and ex-Foreign Secretary Menon appointed NSA in 2010. Menon, at core a clever diplomat, had no problem getting along with Chidambaram or others in the government, though he was hardly tested as an NSA.
The case of the present NSA is somewhat on a different footing. After retiring as the head of the Intelligence Bureau, Ajit Doval had come close to the RSS-BJP top brass. That seemed natural, especially when in security matters he is known to be a hard-liner. His derring-do during the Khalistani movement and in undertaking covert operations against a hostile neighbour is well-known in the security circles. However, in his present assignment, Doval has not been able to resist the temptation of empire-building. Even though Narendra Modi, unlike Vajpayee, is a details man, Doval’s effort to be Mishra-II suffers also from the fact that he only wears a single hat. The only no-go are for Mishra was L.K. Advani’s Home Ministry. Doval does not have to contend with any such barriers. However, delivering as an NSA does not merely depend on the extent of influence he may wield within the government. Each challenge to the nation’s security poses newer questions.
Therefore, in the light of the shortcomings in the Pathankot attack, Doval will do lasting good if he were to help put in place firm guidelines for the NSA’s role and functions in all such future anti-terror operations. Vagueness in this regard creates unnecessary complications, especially when from the top military brass and the civilian authorities to everyone else in government feels obliged to second guess the NSA even in such dire emergencies, given the play-safe tendency of officialdom and his presumed proximity to the PM. There were so many false moves, big and small, in Pathankot that a dispassionate post-mortem from the moment the jihadis surfaced on Indian soil to the time they were eliminated is absolutely necessary. Ideally, the review should be undertaken with the NSA at an arm’s length. Also, it should be kept away from the prying eyes of the media.
A DAUGHTER STANDS UP FOR HER RIGHTS, AND WINS
In our obsession with politics, we somehow fail to observe changes taking place in the society. Who could have thought that a modern girl, educated in the best of Indian and foreign institutions, and married well in an equally well-educated family, would take her own family head on when the latter insisted on enforcing the ancient and obscurantist practice of cutting out daughters from family inheritance? Well, Ratna Vira did. And her story is all the more absorbing because she is the daughter of a well-known media personality, and, more importantly, the niece of a much celebrated editor-turned-politician. Vira insisted on her due share in the family property and when both her mother and maternal uncle said no, she went to court. And won.
Indeed, her autobiographical story told in a fictionalised account in a bestseller, Daughter by Court Order, has now been published in Hindi as well. And, significantly, it carries a message from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has stressed the key role women can play in the progress of the country. What is most surprising is that no one from Bollywood has shown interest in Ratna Vira’s book, though it has all the ingredients that make a potboiler: famous protagonists, feudalism versus modernism, political clout, courtroom drama, intrigue, even a hint of illicit liaison, big money et al. Initially, the well-known filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar had shown interest in buying the rights of Daughter by Court Order, but he too seems to have developed cold feet. Hope it is not due to any kind of pressure.
ALL ABOUT MARKETING
Internet can be a source of a lot of good or evil, depending on your inclinations. Now, it was highly unlikely that we in our line of our work would have come across such a clever definition of marketing in any other place. Enjoy.
A professor teaching marketing to the MBA class made the task much easier. How? Read on:
“You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say, ‘I am very rich, marry me.’ That is direct marketing.”
“You are at a party with a bunch of friends and see a gorgeous girl. One of your friends goes up to her and, pointing at you, says, ‘He is very rich. Marry him.’ That is advertising.”
“You are at a party and see a gorgeous girl. She walks up to you and says, ‘You are very rich. Can I marry you?’ That is brand recognition.”
“You see a gorgeous girl at a party and go up to her and say, ‘I am very rich, marry me.’ She gives you a tight slap. That is customer feedback.”
“You see a gorgeous girl at a party and you go and tell her, ‘I am very rich. Marry me.’ And she introduces you to her husband. That is demand and supply gap.”“And, finally, you see a gorgeous girl at a party and you tell her, ‘I am rich. Marry me.’ Your wife arrives. That is restriction on entering new markets.”