India needs to step up security

The low-intensity blasts in Bodh Gaya’s Mahabodhi Temple Complex, one of Buddhism’s holiest places, are to be condemned in the strongest words. The Union home ministry has confirmed that they were a terror attack, and while the investigating agencies will take some time to unearth the plot, find the motive and bring the perpetrators to justice, it will be in the fitness of things to review the law and order situation in Bihar, and indeed in other states.

The lack of manpower is often given as an excuse for lax security, but in the case of Bihar, it is sadly true. The national average police-to-population ratio is 138 to a lakh, according to the National Crime Records Bureau records of 2012. Bihar’s ratio is an abysmal 67. The United Nations’ recommended ratio is a median of 300 per one lakh population. In western Europe, this ratio exceeds 400, and in the United States, it is between 250 and 300.

In this specific case, there have been reports that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had supplied inputs to the state police about a terror attack in Bodh Gaya, but it is also true that there was a review conducted by the state government on July 3 and the security was beefed up. However, even that was not enough.

The reality is Indian states just do not spend enough on equipping police personnel; it is less than 0.5 per cent of the GDP. The annual national expenditure is Rs 55, 747 crore, giving an average of Rs 3 lakh per policeman with 23 per cent of vacancies yet to be filled.

Clearly, India needs to beef up its on-ground policing. Beat policing, for instance, has been an ignored aspect of law and order for a long time. The result is that human intelligence has suffered a slow death, and incidents such as this are a manifestation of that maladministration. 

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