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FEATURE ARTICLE: Policing the national capital: Commonwealth Games, community engagement and the threat of terrorism in Delhi August 5, 2010

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Kamala Kanta Dash


The Delhi Police are prepared more than ever before to face any terrorist attack. However, to succeed in their initiative to police terrorism they need a sustained community engagement policy. Counter-terrorism at present is facing a twofold challenge; one is the structural challenge that includes appointments, salary, procurement of weapons and high technology based surveillance systems and the second is the ideological challenge that has trapped the police in a repressive colonial model of policing which, in turn, has not allowed the police to develop belongingness with the people. The new amendment in the Delhi Police Act 2010 must target both these institutional and ideological aspects of reform.

“The Delhi Police is making whole-hearted efforts to improve the quality of policing in the city so as to be a model police force for the entire country.” Y. S. Dadwal, Police Commissioner of Delhi

It is both a privilege and a challenge to police a diverse and multicultural community of 18 million people belonging to many faiths, languages and ethnic identities. Policing the national capital has become the toughest job in the recent years given the increasing number of terrorist attacks. Delhi has faced three major terrorist attacks in the last decade and as per the intelligence sources it remains a site of impending attacks. Each attack has challenged the reputation and efficiency of the police, though every time the police have emerged more equipped to handle such a crisis. However, the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) to be held from 3rd to 14th October 2010 will be a real test of the preparation that the Delhi Police have done since last serial blasts on 13 September 2008 and more specifically the cautionary preparation in the post-26/11 Mumbai attacks.

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Census and caste: debating caste enumeration in Census 2011 June 11, 2010

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Kamala Kanta Dash

The Indian census is a decennial exercise started by the British colonial power in 1872.  It has been religiously followed ever since. The 2011 census, the 15th since the first and the 7th after independence, is touted to be the biggest ever in the history of mankind. This mammoth exercise will cover all 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils, 7,742 towns and more than six hundred thousand villages of the country. More than 2 million primary teachers have been trained to act as enumerators for this census. It  would count more than 1.2 billion people on their socio-economic characteristics including gender, religion, occupation and education. The debate about whether to include ‘caste’ in the 2011 census or not has divided the political and academic spectrum alike.

Collection of caste-based data was stopped after 1931 and independent India has been reluctant to collect such data, except in the case of  people in ‘Scheduled Caste’ (popularly known as Dalits) and ‘Scheduled Tribe’ (popularly known as Adiwasis) categories. However, the debate over the caste census has not ended. The search for a model is on. The incumbent government is a divided house, as also is the opposition party, the BJP. In the cabinet, P Chidambaram and Anand Sharma have shown their disagreements and reservations on the possibility of carrying out the caste enumeration, while other cabinet ministers like Jaipal Reddy, Veerappa Moily, Farooq Abdullah and A. Raja, have talked about the need to do so.  Those who oppose the caste census claim that the census is not an “ideal instrument” for a caste survey and favour the idea that another appropriate body, such as the Backward Commission, being entrusted with this responsibility. This argument can be seen in the pattern of political responses of the incumbent government, when they cite one reason or the other for not conducting the caste enumeration. (more…)

Shashi Tharoor’s ‘new India': Foreign policy, citizen engagement and new media April 30, 2010

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Kamala Kanta Dash

Thanks for all the support & good wishes. U folks are the New India. We will “be the change” we wish to see in our country. But not without pain! (Posted on Twitter, 16 April 2010)

This message is from Dr Shashi’s Tharoor’s twitter after he got embroiled in a controversy over allegedly using his public office for private gain by possibly using his ‘good friend’ Ms. Sunanda Pushkar as a shadow bidder/shareholder for the Kochi (Kerala) team in the cash rich Twenty-20 cricket tournament of Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dr Tharoor is a former Junior Minister in the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India a former UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and a PhD from Fletcher School Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA. In this (twitter) post he introduced his idea of New India, referring to his followers with whom he has built a strong relationship of sharing information on his official activities and personal opinion on many issues. Tharoor has, in the meantime, resigned from his post as a junior minister in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) after requesting the Prime Minster to conduct a thorough enquiry to find out details of his involvement and other financial irregularities. Tharoor has defended his decision to support the Kochi (Kerala) team and has made it clear that he mentored the team and did not support for any personal monetary benefit. He defended his position in the parliament by saying ‘my conscience is clear and I have done nothing improper or unethical, less alone illegal.’ Many analysts in India and overseas feel that Tharoor has been made a sacrificial lamb in the IPL controversy. (more…)

The 2010 Commonwealth Games and crisis management in Delhi April 22, 2010

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Kamala Kanta Dash, Monash Asia Institute, Monash University

With a mission to deliver the ‘Best Ever Commonwealth Games’, the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) from 3rd to 14th October 2010 is set to transform many facets of public life in Delhi. The Indian government has prepared a budget outlay of more than Rs.10,000 crore (about US$2 billion) with the aim of turning Delhi into truly a ‘global city’. This makeover includes a massive overhaul of infrastructure, public transport and security services in Delhi. In addition, the Chief Minister Ms. Sheila Dixit has put strong emphasis on changing the public culture of Delhi and has urged Delhiites to behave and be exemplary hosts to all the dignitaries, visitors and guests.

The Union government and the city-state government are readying to cash in on the possible success of the CWG. What has become clear is that the Indian government wants to display its soft power through this international event. However, managing more than 8000 athletes from 71 countries and at least 100,000 foreign visitors will be a daunting task for the organisers as well as the government. Apart from the issue of delays in preparing the venue and related facilities, there is serious anxiety concerning security and crisis management, both of which require urgent attention and effective coordination.

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