Me in Pragati

I have an article up in the October 2008 issue of Pragati. There I argue against Karthik’s post on statistics and terrorism. I argue that if we give a “free hand” to our police to fight terrorism without insisting that they obtain convictions from courts, we will not only end up with too many innocent victims, but also too few genuine terrorists. This was supposed to run in a debate format, with an article from Karthik and a response from me, but Karthik asked for a bailout at the last minute, which left only my article standing.

10 thoughts on “Me in Pragati

  1. “Sohrabuddin Sheikh—who was allegedly shot
    in a fake encounter with police near Ahmedabad
    in November 2005—was almost certainly a murderer,
    an extortionist, and a burden on society.
    But it ought to be quite clear by now that he was
    not a terrorist.”

    I think we first need to define what is terrorism. I believe a murderer is a terrorist and in most cases vice versa too. Need not necessarly be that he has to take up an AK47 or place a bomb in some dustbin. When intellectually strong Yahoo software programmer decides to use his programming skills to hack and spread terror – doesn’t he count as a terrorist? Or does he just remain a hacker?

    It would have been nice to see what Karthik’s arguments would have been. I some lean away from the position that you have taken. I believe when gangrene starts at the toes, it is better to cut the ankle off. I am sure the society is smart enough to bear that. I agree some of our laws are draconian enough to suggest chopping the head off – but such laws need revision not a complete dilution.

  2. Once again, my apologies for bailing out. Life was in transition last month, as I had moved to a new city, and was yet to find a house – and consequently internet at home.

    Also i think one look at the quality and quantity of my september blog posts would’ve given you an idea about this..

  3. Oops the comment got cut off in the middle. Specifically you assert that having excessively strict laws/policies may actually hinder “war on terrorism”* rather than aid it but never give any evidence. Though you do explain that strict laws may make police pick up the easy target (innocent people), I am not convinced.

  4. I think that was one of your worst articles ever. You start by correctly stating the trade-off involved, using the door-knob analogy. But after that, like a leftie academic you focus entirely on the disadvantages with the side of the trade-off that you don’t like.

    And it is also surprising that you, whose arguments often revolve around how we can’t expect our bureaucracy to work properly, call for more efficient law enforcement – just like lefties demand that the bureaucracy function smoothly. Without a word about how such a thing can ever be ensured in practice.

  5. FiTW,

    I think that is a bit harsh. Even if there were stricter laws in place there should be enforcement for them to have any effect. On the other hand you are correct when you point out that reform of ordinary enforcement is a long term project and the present structure can not be relied upon to fight against terrorism. This means that even more necessary than legislating new laws is to set up an integrated force with a simple chain of command and appropriate powers for investigation and preemption with all necessary legal mandate.

  6. Gaurav,

    “Strict” is not quite the word. Terrorism laws are not extra regulations, but relaxation of certain existing regulations for the police. Somewhat analogous to laws that allow soldiers to kill during war.

    In a developed country those laws aren’t required because the police are efficient enough to overcome the “static friction” offered by regulations – just as bureaucracy in US isn’t as stifling as the one in India. But given that our police aren’t smart enough, laws may be required to ease the regulatory structure.

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