On the 22nd day of July this year the world was faced with an uncomfortable question. The mass killings of teenagers by a right wing extremist in Oslo made us question whether there is any place in the world that we can truly consider ‘safe’ now. As the world is faced with unprecedented levels of violence and terrorism national security has taken a top spot on the political agenda of all nations. In the light of the current scenario we are faced with a trade of. This trade of is between Human or civil rights and liberties and national security. This essay will discuss this trade off whilst making a case in favour of National security.
The primary function of a state is to provide security to its people. The current status-quo however requires a fresh approach to dealing with new security challenges that the world is faced with such as terrorism; which unlike traditional warfare takes place in a random manner across the globe and primarily affects civilians. In dealing with these new security issues the government has to undertake mass surveillance in order to ensure security. Unfortunately there currently exists no better alternative to maintaining security than breaching people’s privacy.
While it might be a bother to some to keep undergoing security checks at hotels and airports and to know that all your biometric data is accessible to the state; it is inevitable. People must learn to be more accommodating and accepting. In the context of India is this particularly true as we are the victims of ongoing cross-border terrorism and are a nation rife with communal tension. The early 20th century saw the rise of liberalism and was followed soon thereafter by international democratization. This change in global opinion brought about the emphasis on the individual and the importance of individual rights.
Thus many who subscribe to this school of thought might have an objection to the current breach of individual privacy in the name of national security. On the other hand however it is widely accepted that in a democratic framework, the community at large needs to be considered. Being a citizen of a democratically governed nation, one tacitly consents to abiding by a ‘social contract’ where one must give up a small amount of one’s personal liberties to benefit not only the community at large but also benefit one’s self by getting assured security in return.
In the current environment it is important to maintain a good balance between people’s privacy and liberties and national security. The state must not go so far as to infringe on its people’s freedom; however it must do what it needs to in order to preserve peace and prosperity for its populous. Good policy must be constructed so as to be practical and applicable to the current situation. In our modern age of destruction and danger being safe is being smart. We are faced with a world of infinite potential or potentially terminal destruction. The choice is ours.