It is most surprising that businessman Mukesh Ambani has been given Z security by the government. He will now be guarded by the Central Reserve Police Force commandos, all armed with deadly weapons, and escorted by pilot and follow-on vehicles all at enormous public expense. There is nothing on record to suggest why Ambani has become the beneficiary of this kind of state patronage except that he has reportedly received threats from Indian Mujahideen (IM). Allegedly a threat letter was hand delivered to his office from this organisation, which has become the basis for the central government’s evaluation of a risk perception. It is not usual in this country, or any other, to provide this kind of security cover at government expense to a private person who has little to do with government or terrorism. Ambani is a private individual whose interests are in business and corporate affairs. His contribution to public policy in matters other than those affect his corporate interests is negligible and there is hardly any known reason as to why there should be a serious threat perception against his life from terrorists that would merit the government providing security cover to him.
It is not clear how his life seriously intersects with that of the IM. It cannot be gainsaid that it is decidedly the government’s duty to provide security to citizens – and Ambani is certainly one – and to protect them from terrorist threats. However, to do this it has to revamp all the factors that make for better policing generally and it has to do this for all the citizens and not provide a security cover only to a few selected individuals. Ambani, if he has enemies, which as the head and arbiter of large corporate interests he may well have, is in a position to make private security arrangements to do which he has ample resources. VIP security in our country has increasingly become a status symbol with little nexus to any threat perception. Despite even the Supreme Court having recently adversely commented on the practice of providing such security, the government keeps adding persons to this list, including many whose claims are dubious. Such VIP security is an enormous waste of the taxpayer’s money with crores being poured down the drain. It is time that clear principles were evolved about who should get security cover and how much. It should not be handed out as largesse but to only those who really merit it.