India Outlines Intelligence and Security Overhaul After the Mumbai Attacks

By Matthew Harwood

The Indian government outlined on Thursday a broad strengthening and reorganization of its security and intelligence agencies after more than 170 people were killed during a terrorist assault on the city in late November.

Addressing Parliament, India's new Home Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, announced the steps the government would take to revamp the country's intelligence and security agencies.

"Given the nature of the threat, we can't go back to business as usual," he said, adding that the government "take certain hard decisions to prepare the country and people to face the challenge of terrorism."

Previously, Chidambaram apologized for the government's "lapses."

The outline included long-overdue overhauls of the government's intelligence and security capabilities. According to the BBC's South Asia correspondent Chris Morris, India's security system has been in need of reform for decades

On the intelligence front, Chidambaram said vacant positions in India's security agencies would be filled, and its employees would be given the necessary advanced technology to do their job better. He also said a national investigative agency would be created.

To bolster the country's security, Chidambaram outlined three enhancements: a coastal command would be set up to patrol India's 4,660-mile coastline; twenty counterterrorism schools would also be established throughout India to train police and security personnel in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tactics; and commando units would be stationed in Indian states.

He also pledged to harden India's anti-terrorism and money laundering laws.

Morris, however, reports that "There will be political disagreements between the government and the opposition about how tough they should be and how they should be targeted."

In related news, The New York Times this Sunday will feature an article on traveling intelligently after the Mumbai attacks. The terrorists explicitly chose their targets to maximize the amount of Western casualties.

While experts agree there isn't much a person can do to prevent the mathematical improbability they'll get caught up in a terrorist attack, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives recommends international travelers carry four things—"a flashlight with an LED bulb for illumination or to signal for help; a hand-held water purifier in case the water isn’t potable; a portable radio; and a cellphone or a Blackberry with international service."


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