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National Security – Role and Contribution of States by Lt Gen OP Kaushik

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Author: Lt Gen OP Kaushik PVSM, AVSM, VSM, M-in-D (Retd)
The Constitution has distributed legislative powers between the Union and the States under three lists. The States handle very substantial part of law and order, all the administration. Hence, it is not only a role that they should play in national security but also have an obligation to fulfill their Constitutional responsibility in this regard.


Article 1 of the Constitution of India states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” The Constitution provided us a federal political organisation the spirit of which is enshrined in the preamble in the following words:

“We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity; and promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation”.

The Supreme Court has described the Constitution as federal as it satisfies all the essential conditions of a federal form of polity such as central sovereign authority and provincial autonomy in selected subjects, clearly stating distribution of powers between the Centre and the States, supremacy of the Constitution and authority of the court as the final interpreter of the Constitution.

The Constitution has distributed legislative powers between the Union and the States under three lists. The Union list consists of 97 items the most important of which are Defence, Defence Forces of the Union, Foreign Affairs, War and Peace. The State list, on which the State legislatures have exclusive powers of legislation; include 66 items of which the main are Public Order, Police, Local Government and Public Health. The third list, called Concurrent, includes 52 subjects, the main ones are – Education, Criminal Law and Procedure, Welfare of Labour, Economic and Social Planning etc. On subjects listed under the Concurrent List, the Centre as well as the States can enact laws, however, in the case of overlapping of any matter between the three lists, the Central government has been given the paramount power.

It was necessary to state the above mentioned Constitutional provisions to know that in terms of our Constitution, the States have been given enough powers and they have exclusive powers in certain areas. The States handle very substantial part of law and order, all the administration.

The primary objective of national security is to guard the nation’s international borders and sovereignty, unity and integrity of the nation, control secessionist tendencies, turmoil and unrest at home and also ensure optimum utilisation of the nation’s resources for balanced development of the country, ensuring contentment and happiness of the population. It can, therefore, be seen that besides guarding the national frontiers and keeping our sovereignty inviolate, which primarily are the responsibilities of the Central government, substantial part of security encompasses the items which primarily come under the sole jurisdiction of the State governments.

India’s internal security environment today is witnessing a very disturbed and volatile situation. We have insurgent, sub-national, ethnic and terrorist movements not only in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-eastern states, 272 districts of Central and South India, spread among 13 states, have been engulfed by Naxalism and Maoism. In fact, currently, the threat from our neighbouring countries amounts to low intensity proxy war involving sending across our borders well trained terrorists to cause sabotage and destruction to our developmental projects.

Our response to the stated threats has been mainly from the Central government and in that too the armed forces of the Union have become the sole player. The State governments have generally shown an indifferent and complacent attitude. Whereas the State police forces should be playing a primary role in internal security and stability, the State governments have paid very little attention towards deplorable condition of State police organisations which continue to be archaic, untrained and poorly armed. Only contribution of State government has been to increase the number of police forces and, as a result internal security and law and order has come to stay as the Centre’s responsibility. The State police forces, which have burgeoned in numbers and ranks need to play a more positive and active role in security needs of the country and State governments must gear up their administration to meet the objectives of national security. Some aspects in which States can play role are discussed below.

Responsible Governance

The fundamental principle of governance is to provide efficient administration. It also involves accountability and timely responses to citizen’s problems and requests. If  administration  is  efficient  and  honest, it will reduce  corruption and citizens life  will be  safe, secured and  comfortable.

It is also responsible to insure obedience to laws which have been   passed by the legislatures for safe management of the society. The bureaucratic system in the country and specially in the States has declined immensely in carrying out this main obligation. Consequently, there is so much lawlessness and corruption that we as society have been termed ‘lesser breed without law’.

Besides many other grounds, the main reason for this malady is politicisation of services. This disease  is  more prevalent  in the  States  where politicisation, casteisation and  reservations have  destroyed the merit based system and  have  replaced it by indiscipline, corruption and  favouratism. The civil services have become the personal servants of MLAs, MPs, Ministers and the  Chief Ministers. As a result, the system and institutions have been wiped out. The general administration in the States has reached such low levels that it has become a normal practice to accept all inefficiencies on the part of bureaucrates. The entire functioning of States administration is disturbingly feudal.

IAS officers in the States suffer from inadequate tenure and on an average are shifted three times in a year. Only those officers have security and adequacy of tenures who easily yield to politicians’ influence. This has totally jeopardised  governance and  maintenance  of law and order. Consequently, terrorism, insurgency, Naxalite and Maoist militancy, secessionist  movements, daily scuffle among political parties to gain power and  rampant corruption in all departments of government  and  walks of life are common features of  States’ administration. As regards civil services at the State level less said the better. They are absolutely third rate since Public Service Commissions at State level are completely dominated by politicians.

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