Conscious of the terrorist threat stalking India, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is confident of meeting his year-end deadline for setting up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre.
The proposed NCTC will be the pivot of the “new architecture” of security he mooted in a recent policy speech.
Chidambaram has kick-started efforts in that direction with a discussion paper sought by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for inter-ministerial consultations on the proposal to place counter-terrorism expertise scattered across various intelligence and investigative agencies, below one umbrella.
“I’ve explained to the Prime Minister the broad contours of the new architecture and why it’s necessary; why it cannot wait,” he told Hindustan Times in an interview on Tuesday.
The NCTC will be up and running by December 31, a deadline he fixed for himself, he said.
The paper that’s being given the final touches will form the basis of the note the Minister intends placing before the Union Cabinet in the first week of March. In his scheme of things, other agencies will exist but to avoid multiplicity, cede to the NCTC “the right to coordinate, lay down policy and give direction” on matters relating to countering terrorism.
“Counter terrorism efforts cannot revolve around individuals. They have to be located in an institution,” reasoned Chidambaram.
He refused to comment on the National Security Advisor’s role in the new architecture: “The NSA advises the PM. It’s for the PM to decide where he’d want him placed and with what responsibilities.”
Chidambaram also desisted from commenting on the outgoing NSA, M.K. Narayanan’s successor — whether he should be a diplomat or with a policing background — but recalled fondly their family ties dating back to 1975.
“The Press sometimes is hopelessly off the mark. We’ve known each other for 35 years and had a very good meeting even today.”