Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why is Bombay a target of bomb blasts?

There were another set of bomb blasts in Bombay. My heart is with the families of the affected people.

Security in India is pretty bad. There is a culture of lax security.

In my experience, the police have been unhelpful and unable to enforce laws. The airport police are slightly more diligent than the regular force inside the city, but both are relatively incompetent. At the International airport, I have seen passengers walk away without their bags being scanned through the machines. On one occasion my bag was run through the scanner but there was nobody looking at the scanner to see what I was bringing in. It is easy to see how dangerous, explosive material could have been brought in.

Inside the city, the police are equally lax. I do not remember approaching the police when there was any problem. The police were a nuisance rather than a service and a convenience. The police were happy to assert their authority and harass students and poor people, while avoiding their responsibility to enforce laws. The porous border with other countries combined with the lax enforcement of laws make it easy for criminals to cause mischief with little consequence.

A symptom of this is the high number of accidents and traffic fatalities in India. Traffic police are probably the least competent, but the indifference and incompetence of the traffic police points to a systemic problem in law enforcement everywhere: tax evasion, violations of human rights, and a lack of security. Citizens that pay taxes are paying the state to keep them safe, and to guarantee some basic dignity. The police are unable to provide this in Bombay.

This incident is truly unfortunate, and I share the sense of vulnerability such incidents cause. Unless we can address the core problem: the failure of enforcement of laws, we can never achieve the security that Bombay deserves.

Image courtesy: blog on Indian police