‘One Nation One Uniform’

States are at worst big municipalities. The systematic erosion of federal structure has literally paved the way for authoritarianism and concentration of exclusive authority at the centre. The biggest ‘showcase of democracy’ is in reality an elected autocracy. Opposition parties, left parties in particular, no longer raise the issue of centre-state relations despite continuous centralisation of powers and abolition of autonomous institutions. At one stage the left talked a lot about internal colonialism. Today that perception is more relevant than ever before. The relationship between the Centre and states is simply colonial. The multi-party democracy is no guarantee to arrest the trend of increasing colonisation and destruction of whatever remains of federalism as guaranteed under the constitution. And authoritarianism in the Indian context is fascism. Law and order is the state subject. So are the police forces. With so many central intelligence and security agencies interfering in internal affairs of states through governor or otherwise whatever autonomy the states used to enjoy even a decade ago no longer exists under the Modi dispensation. Now state police is going to be under partial control of the Centre if Modi’s plan of ‘one nation one uniform’ gets implemented. While addressing the ‘Chinton Shibir’ (brainstorming session) of home ministers of states on October 28 at Surjakund in Haryana Prime Minister Modi mooted the idea of ‘one nation one uniform’ for all state police personnel, albeit he didn’t forget to add a rider that ‘one nation one uniform’ prescription must not extend to bringing operations of police forces under one umbrella. Nobody believes it. In truth the move is not that innocuous as he says. The Centre will finally police the police to cripple state’s authority in certain areas. He added ‘maintaining law and order is a 24x7 job demanding work towards advancements and improvements in the processes involved’. In other words he was actually suggesting modernisation of police forces with latest technological gadgets. But any modernisation needs money. Most states, particularly non-BJP ruled states are in the red, failing to carry out even their modest social welfare schemes due to paucity of funds. So states will again depend on the central government’s benevolence to make their police forces ‘modern and effective’. And the Centre is unlikely to disburse money without its control over the police.

At the same venue Modi came down heavily on the Naxalites, hopefully to encourage state home ministers to crush what they technically call ‘left-wing extremism’ with brutality. He said ‘every form of Naxalism, be it the one with guns or the one with pens, has to be uprooted to prevent them from misleading the youth of the country’. He was visibly worried over the increase of Naxalite intellectual atmosphere. They have been talking about urban Naxalism for quite some time only to silence any voice of dissent. It is their time tested practice to destroy any mass movement by giving it a Naxalite or Maoist or terrorist tag. They tried it during the historic farmers’ movement but failed miserably. A large number of academics, journalists, social activists and human rights crusaders are behind bars because they are ‘Naxalite suspects’ as per the assessment of the persons in power. They are indiscriminately arrested, tortured and kept in jails without trial for years. India is already a police raj. Laws like UAPA have given unlimited power to the state police and central intelligence agencies to terrorise people, ironically in the name of combating terrorism. The Prime Minister spoke about the Police Technology Mission of the Central Government and stressed the need for a common platform as differing technologies of different states do not talk to each other. Here lies the crux of the matter. He has a pan-Indian plan for the state police forces and it cannot be achieved without a central supervising authority over the state police.

No opposition party is opposing Modi’s anti-democratic measures to allow the security agencies to do whatever they like to do in the name of curbing Naxalism and maintaining law and order.

For one thing Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh originally described the Naxalites as the greatest threat to internal security. And Modi is now reiterating the same Congress rhetoric to curb protests and yet he thinks he is promoting cooperative federalism to honour the Constitution. True, he is honouring the constitution by continually dismantling it. Modi or Manmohan, they always need an internal enemy to suppress democratic aspirations of people and the bogey of rising Naxalism foots their bill.

Back to Home Page

Vol 55, No. 20, Nov 13 - 19, 2022