The bomb blasts at Bodhgaya in Bihar have once again focused attrention on the security of vulnerable installations in the country. All of us are acutely aware of the fact that a vast majority of Indians are not at all security conscious. Also we very reluctantly cooperate with security personnel while they are carrying out their duties. Cooperation is usually under pressure. Yet when blasts take place we are very critical of the government and after a few days revert back to our careless attitudes.

In fact it is surprising, given our very indifferent attitude towards security, that relatively very few incidents are taking place. One does not know whom to thank for this. We seem to have a fatalistic attitude towards ugly incidents. We believe that what is to happen will happen, howsoever care one may take. Therefore why bother with cumbersome drills and procedures to avoid such incidents. The higher up one is in the societal or official hierarchy, instead of setting examples, they seek exemptions from security checks and other procedures. Somehow a vast majority of us like to be allowed to break procedures. Instead of merging with fellow Indians we encourage seggregation which gives many of us an exalted sense of false prestige.

In almost all crowded places like railway and bus stations, shopping malls, religious places, cinema theaters or multiplexes and so on, we find a customary wooden enclosure with a detector attached to it. One is supposed to pass through it and it keeps beeping. The interesting part is that there is no security person around it for miles and it is simply a crude joke played in the name of security checkup. The public immediately understands that security is to be taken lightly and if there is space around the enclosure people even don't walk through it.

Another interesting observation is that at many places where security guards are present with metal detectors, they do not check the females, as if it is only men who are dangerous. I once asked a security supervisor of a famous shopping mall as to why this exemption for females. His reply was male security can not check females. Why female security staff is not there, to that query he simply walked away. This type of sham security checks further erode the public from taking security seriously.

One of the most pathetic security lapses one gets to see very frequently is when three to four seurity persons are gossiping near the entry and people are entering without being frisked or checked. They are all going to get their full salary of the day for not doing their duty. Then why work? Once in a very popular shopping complex in Delhi I asked the security persons as to why they are not doing their duty and checking the people at the entry, So very grandly one of them stepped forward and said OK we will check you if it makes you happy. Every one around me laughed. That such negligence of duty is taking place is surely known to their superiors but who cares. The railway police take a customary picnic-style stroll when the train starts from the starting station and that is the last one sees of them howsoever long the journey maybe. I have seen them pushing unreserved passengers into reserved compartments and collecting consideration from them. When I protested once, they simply ran away and the ones who had yet to pay up, thanked me. But the law was broken by its protectors.

However I have seen the CISF personnel do a good job of enforcing security checks at the airports in a very professional manner and wish they were everywhere. No doubt the Bihar government has asked the Center to deploy CISF at Bodhgaya temple complex. Whereever army is deployed they also do a thorough job. This goes on to prove that training and good emoluments are necessary for enforcing security. It is a function which requires a disciplined force.

Most of the time safety, fire and security are seen as functions which are to be tolerated due to statutory reasons. Therefore minimal expenditure is incurred and quality of service is not at all emphasised upon. The famous'chalta hai' attitude is adopted. In almost all locations whether in industry, private or public offices, high rise buildings etc the red-coloured fire extinguisher cylinders are conspicuously placed. But they are supposed to be replaced  periodically with fresh ones. In practice it is hardly ever done. Also almost 100% of people do not know how to operate it in case of fire. But who cares.

Breach of security by others makes us also do so. In the process we tolerate such breaches and become insensitive to the aftermaths of the resultant blasts, fires etc. In order to cover our selves we conveniently blame the government. Security can be effective when every one is not only aware but also willingly cooperates in its enforcement and loudly protest when procedures are not being followed. Today it may be someone else, tomorrow it could be us.

One fails to understand why the Buddhist temple complex at Bodhgaya, frequented by international tourists from Buddhist countries, did not have the type of security it deserved. The country in general and the state of Bihar in particular is the guardian of the founder of one of the widely practiced religions in the world. Again it boils down to attitude. Go to any temple complex or famous mosques or churches or gurudwara. You will repeatedly see how unprotected they are. There is no awareness of security concept. Security, most of the time only means opening and closing of a shrine or complex and vanishing in between.

One should not blame the foot soldier in these public places for not doing their duty properly. It is the arm chair superiors who are sitting in air conditioned offices who are most of the time out of tune with reality and the ground situation. They do all their palnning on paper and do not bother about its implementation. I have seen government officials appointed as MD in PSU's who visit the complex for the first and last time, usually within a week of taking charge. After that they only sit and sit in their offices. I have read that during British rule the government officers were compulsorily required to tour the areas under their control periodically and submit their reports. They would come face to face wiith reality. Naturally this practice has been done away with in free India. One of the area which has suffered from this direct observation is the area of security and efficacy of security systems.

It is therefore essential that security systems be modernised and effectively implemented.The public should not condone security lapses but act as a watchdog. It should not only protest lapses but also demand security provisions at all vulnerable places. Lower cadre security personnel should be properly trained and motivated to perform their duties. Must we awake only when human lives are lost and not plan in advance?

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