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
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