November 30, 2008

Lessons from the Mumbai Terror tragedy - Too Many Heroes (Part 2/4)

What went wrong - Too Many Heroes:
There were too many people involved - the general police, the ATS, the MARCOS/Navy, the NSG, the regular Army, and the intelligence agencies not to mention the medical and fire services. Their presence was to be expected perhaps, but the manner in which they conducted themselves amongst the whole, made it seem as if each was functioning in parallel or at best, with only loose interaction. Often times there was no secure perimeter, and there were police-personnel and soldiers literally strewn about all over, without much instruction. Manpower was poured in, that is for sure, but all of it did not seem properly utilized.

Ideally: A planned heirarchy of different Agencies should swing into action (If required, a makeshift arrangement until the duties can be rotated to the correct authority, once the situation permits). The core-competency of each should decide the way in which the heirarchy is structured. Asking one agency to perform the functions better performed by another, and then expecting equal results is bad management. Similarly, involving more than the necessary institutions and expecting efficient functioning is asking for trouble- too many cooks spoil the broth.

'Ind'eally: Look, i can't imagine that Indian Agencies will ever learn to work together. At least, not as long as 'Responsibility' is feared as a potential chance to getting one's fingers burnt, and as long as the heads of institutions cozy up to varied Political Godfathers - which will be forever.

But, since we're a Democracy, why not look at shared responsibility - Divide the Risk! - the fear of which makes our organizations impotent - with a "Knights-of-the-round-table" arrangement, where a collective decision is then the official decision to be executed. And is then promptly executed, with the collective knowledge of all involved.

This is post 2 of a 4part article. Read Part 1: Introduction Part 3: Too Many Voices Part 4: Too Little Practice
Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Lessons from the Mumbai Terror tragedy - Introduction (Part 1/4)

The recent terror attacks in Mumbai got me thinking on how better things could have been managed. I am proud of the way we came together as a nation, and of the people who worked on the frontlines against terror, but i think the whole episode made visible a lot of things to improve.

I put down a few points on paper during the attacks itself, which i later expanded on - under 3 headings:
  1. What Went Wrong - Things that caught my eye, which went wrong/could be better.
  2. Ideally - What i think we should ideally aspire for, but which i realize is utopian to expect.
  3. 'Ind'eally - What best can happen- keeping in mind the functioning of a country like ours.
I crystallized things down to 3 points that i feel strongly about, that i now plan to blog about in a 3part-series.

This is post 1 of a 4part article. Read Part 2: Too Many Heroes Part 3: Too Many Voices Part 4: Too Little Practice
Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

November 21, 2008

Arr Matie!

from earcos
Blistering Barnacles!....Piracy on the high-seas is big news these days!
I've known for some time now that the Straits of Malacca and the Phillipine and Indonesian-archipelago's have been rich-hunting grounds for modern-day buccaneers...but i previously had no idea that the Somali-coast was such a major centre for piracy.

So, after reading what was being said about Piracy in the news, and especially when i heard in a news-report that the Somali pirates alone CURRENTLY HAVE 180 VESSELS of different sizes within their control, and about 300 odd seamen as hostage, for variable lengths of time... i decided to go online and look stuff up. I came across this awesome Google Maps-overlay created by the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Cell.

Live Piracy Map

It shows UP TO DATE information, on a global scale, of maritime incidents of Piracy, with the location, time, vessel-involved and also a brief description of what happened. Muy bueno!

As expected the pointers are clustered around S.E. Asia and the Horn of Africa....(yes India finds mention too- Kandla Port, infact is listed as an area of known risk. Though Indian piracy is nowhere near as organized- just an odd case of theft and looting ship-stores. No Hijacking. The desi-pirates probably just want some foreign dirty magazines and some tinned ham. Hehe....)

Piracy around the Horn and the Gulf of Aden

Note the international naval presence in the area around the Gulf of Aden! And now, with the INS Tabar patrolling there and a Delhi-class ship underway, theres a little nugget of pride in my heart see the Indian Navy flexing it's blue-water strength. Perhaps it maybe the cro-magnon in me, but i've always thought that there nothing like a little action to keep an army, or a navy for that matter, 'fighting fit', and though i don't presume too much INS knowledge it's really heartening to see something besides lame reports of 'fleet reviews' and 'excerises'.

The INS Tabar escorting a merchant vessel

Anyhoo, in a lighter vein...what did the INS Tabar tell the pirate-captain?? FRIG-ATE!! :D

(Link: Live Piracy Map)

Creative Commons License
This work by Dinesh Swamy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.