Home Contact Us
Search :

Terrorism - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2808, 13 February 2009
Role of Private Sector in Preventing Terror Attacks
M Shamsur Rabb Khan
e-mail: samsur.khan@gmail.com

The looming dangers of terror attacks in India after the Mumbai carnage last November has generated a greater need for involving the private sector in preventing terrorism, since government programs and strategies are unable to prevent and deal effectively with terror attacks. The lessons of 26/11 must include an understanding of ’terror tactics’, including the use of technology despite failures to gain information inputs, information sharing, lack of coordination between security agencies and late reaction to disaster, proving that government’s efforts are inadequate and indifferent. 

Unlike the US, India has been slow and sluggish in formulating a comprehensive plan of action vis-à-vis terrorism that would include private business and NGOs. Keeping the counterterrorism strategy exclusively in the government’s domain, India has denied the private sector any role. Questions like information sharing, awareness campaign and vigilance in public places are for academic study, not for the public participation to ensure national security. As against what the RAND study, “How Terrorist Groups End: Lesson for Countering Al Qaida” says “kitchen-sink approach”, the India needs to “include a wide range of tools” in combating the menace of terror. 

In a panel discussion on 28 January 2009 on “Lessons from the Mumbai Terror Attacks” the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, US Senator, Susan M Collins, highlighted the role of “non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private businesses”. The argument made in the statement rightly pointed out that “with approximately 85 per cent (in the US) critical infrastructure in private hands, a strong (PPP) is essential to preventing attacks.” This statement refers to the US context where no terror attacks have occurred since 9/11, but the casualties in the 26/11 attacks have exposed our vulnerability; hence similar efforts are urgently needed in India. 

The Mumbai terror attacks have heightened the need for the private sector to play a bigger role in prevention of terrorism as the challenge before India is to protect soft targets, which places the onus on the government to engage private players. The Panel's Chairman Joe Lieberman observed: "The Mumbai terrorists attacked hotels, an outdoor café, a Jewish community centre and a movie theatre - places that are not traditionally subject to a high level of security. The protection of these kinds of soft targets is a challenge in an open society… we cannot leave soft targets unguarded.” Government agencies were the sole protectors and handlers of the attacks in Mumbai, compounding a massive intelligence failure, “woefully unprepared police forces to handle the threat” and complete confusion of “who was in charge that night”, which illustrates the case for expanding the spectrum of counterterrorism mechanisms. 

According to a report by global consultants Frost and Sullivan, the increased threat of terror attacks in India is likely to see its security sector grow 12-fold within the next decade, pushing annual spending as high as US$9.7 billion by 2016 as against a mere US$800 million spent in 2007. How will this money be spent? India must engage NGOs in research, advocacy and a awareness campaign on a massive scale. In addition, the government should garner the resources and professionalism in the private sector to supplement its anti-terror operations, which means a combined effort by public and private institutions to join hands and develop the 'last line of defence' against soft targets. The relations between the government and private sector companies and NGOs through public-private partnership (PPP) is critical, since the government does not have the resources to protect the country’s infrastructure; hence, the cooperation of private businesses, concerned NGOs and a vigilant general public needs to be given priority to secure India from terror attacks. 

Much to the chagrin of political leadership in India, Ratan Tata said he was exploring the possibility of engaging an external agency to provide security to the Taj hotel. Mukesh Ambani, too, showed his willingness to send his teenage son to the Army for compulsory arms training. However, the challenge before the government is to initiate programs for encouraging the private sector and NGOs to provide a suitable security environment in the country, and involve NGOs to generate an awareness campaign to sensitize the general public on the issues related to security.

India’s counterterrorism strategy must take a leaf out of what Alan Orlob, Vice President Corporate Security and Loss Prevention, Marriot International Lodging, said in Part II of the Panel report on “Lessons from the Mumbai Terror Attacks”: “Terrorist tactics continue to evolve. Our security must evolve as well.” With Tata and Ambani willing to meet the challenge, the time has come for India government to involve the private sector and NGOs in a big way to improve its security set-up.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Siddharth Ramana,
"The Role of Human Intelligence in Counter-Terrorism," 16 November 2010
Shamsur Rabb Khan,
"RISAT-2 : A New Era in Defence Surveillance Capability," 27 April 2009
Rekha Chakravarthi,
"From Mumbai to Lahore: Where Do We Go From Here?," 26 March 2009
Ali Ahmed,
"Questioning ‘Compellence’ as Answer to India’s Pakistan Dilemma," 2 March 2009
PR Chari,
"The Mumbai Outrage and India’s Options," 26 February 2009
Jabin T Jacob,
"Sino-Indian Anti-Terror Cooperation: Contradictions Aplenty," 13 February 2009

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
The Killing of Shahzad: Links between the al Qaeda and the Pakistan Navy in the Open?

India's Contentious 50 Most Wanted Terrorists List

WikiWrecks: 26/11 and US Intent

Sino-Pak N-deal: a Setback to India-China Ties?

Two Summits; Conflicting Messages

David Headley’s Plea Bargain and India-US Relations

Tackling Maoist Terror

The Strategic Significance of Arihant

Enhancing the Credibility of CRPF

Change Has Come to J&K

Aerial Security Against Terror Attacks

Hindu Terror: A More Serious Threat

Tackling Terror: Reforms, Not Stringent Laws, Necessary

NSG Waiver: What does it mean for India?

Will the Nuclear Deal Hurt India's Foreign Policy?

Elections in the Himalayan Kingdom: New Dawn of India-Bhutan Relations

Sagarika: A Feather in India's Defense Hat

Securing India's Coastline

Time to Revive India-Iran Relations

Indo-Israel Defence Cooperation: A Step in the Right Direction

Poor Policing and Weak Intelligence Gathering

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com