Beyond the normal understanding of Homeland security

By Srilaxmi Sriram

Beyond the normal understanding of Homeland security

Have Indian cities become uninhabitable in the recent past?

While the men and women in uniform have been tirelessly protecting us against terrorism and extremism, the homeland security of India has been going for a toss in the past decade. While the conventional definition of homeland security is to maintain peace within the sovereign borders of a state, it is critical for us to look beyond and understand safety and security. While safety is about being protected and security is about being free from danger, it is important for people to ask some questions to understand why Indian cities have become uninhabitable due to issues related to homeland safety and security. How safe are we on roads? How safe are we on trains and train stations? How safe are we during a disaster? How safe are we in our own homes? How safe are we in public transports and streets?  How safe are we at workplaces? And how safe are we on Indian soil?

Recently, Indian cities have faced stampede, building collapses, excessive flooding, fire at workplaces, fire at schools, violent protests, curfews, terror threats at airports and even mass epidemic spreading. The stampede that killed 23 people in Mumbai's Elphinstone Road railway station was an accident waiting to happen for years. Mumbai has a population of roughly 22 million, is the fourth most populated city in the world, and the population has been its nemesis. The result of this is an enormous pressure on public transports, roads, and living spaces. Just a few weeks ago, Mumbai came to a standstill while heavy rains caused severe flooding in several areas and killing a few people. A few days after, a residential building collapsed killing about 30 people following which a film production studio went up in flames injuring a few.

Bangalore is following Mumbai on its path to becoming extremely flooded during rains and extremely unsafe during disasters. The city saw rapid development due to IT boom and has not been able to cope-up with the sudden influx of population. Chennai, Kolkata and Delhi have become seats of protests and epidemic diseases in the country with 1500 people being affected by dengue in Chennai and 1066 swine flu cases in Delhi last month. There have also been several cases of train derailments and infrastructure defaults across the nation. In addition to this, India has not had a respite from cases of crime against women and children.

The question at this point is about inhabitability and safety of people in the cities of India, and so it must be understood that homeland security is ‘protection of people’ within the sovereign boundaries of the nation. There have been several wake-up calls for the authorities, city planners, law enforcement agencies and even the people, but the ‘value for life’ in India has been a matter of major concern. There is a callous system that has been in place in this country for decades that makes every disaster look trivial and forgotten. It is easy to blame individuals for anything that happens, but what is more important is to broaden the definition of homeland security in the nation and take it above border management, internal security, state affairs, J&K affairs, and population census. There is thus a need to expand the blanket of the conventional understanding of what the Ministry of Home Affairs defines by homeland security. 

About the Author

Srilaxmi Sriram is an Analyst in the Information Services team at MitKat Advisory. She is an IR graduate with a Master of Arts degree in Diplomacy, Law and Business from Jindal School of International Affairs, Sonipat, with an interest in Geopolitics, Development and Homeland Security. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from Ethiraj College for Women, Chennai.

Disclaimer: Any views or opinions represented in this blog are of the author and do not represent those of MitKat. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

Published On - Oct 3,2017


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