Nitin Gokhale, Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Monday, December 15, 2008 8:53 PM (New Delhi)
After the Mumbai terror attacks, the man who took charge of the country's security affairs is wasting no time in learning the ropes. P Chidambaram, who moved from the Finance to the Home Ministry is said to be putting in extra effort in understanding his new challenges and responsibilities.
For starters, he is focussing on cutting some of that notorious red tape.
"In the next few weeks and months, it will be my endeavour to take certain hard decisions and prepare the country and the people to face the challenge of terrorism," said Chidambaram.
Chidambaram is setting the tone for important changes in India's most crucial ministry, Home Affairs. His mantra is to simplify procedures, cut through the red tape and get all security agencies on the same page.
Perhaps for the first time, the National Security Advisor visits the Home Ministry daily for an intelligence meeting. Chidambaram has also cut red tape, sometimes taking decisions over the phone rather than wait for files.
He has also promised a single-window clearance for agencies to buy security goods like foreign-made guns or speedboats. Importantly, he has demanded more "actionable" intelligence and made IB and RAW accountable for this.
He has filled up key vacancies quickly, in some cases giving officers only 48 hours to report to their new posts.
To get a grip on his new job, Chidambaram is putting in extra effort. For instance, he has spent more than six hours at the Intelligence Bureau headquarters to understand threats to internal security.
Officials say Chidambaram has set for himself a deadline of 150 days to revitalise the Home Ministry, a timetable that they believe is far easier planned than implemented.
However, even they recognise it is a job that just has to be done to shore-up India's defences against terrorists.