By Kriti Rathi
The Singapore model is a combination of hard security measures and stringent laws along with community involvement, known as an “ideology-free” policy approach to deal with radicalized youth.
‘Soft authoritarianism’, Singapore style
Founded by Kuan Lee Yew, the “soft authoritarianism” which he enforced was of its time and its place. The fragility of the place and the need to struggle in a disciplined manner to survive and succeed was what made this plan a success. Most of the city’s population was ready to accept bargain – improving living standards (including plentiful public housing), stability, security and openness to the world in exchange for acceptance of a government which reserved the right to supervise nearly all areas of life down to the famous ban on chewing gum.
The plan was highly criticised as the creation of a “nanny-state” and even though it had very high levels of restraints, the thing that it did not curtail the ambition and the passion in the hearts of the Singaporeans. Along with the flourishing traditional business of shipping and its big banking sector, it has become a hi-tech centre of innovation, from its revolutionary technology to recycle domestic liquid waste for re-use in a state seriously short of water. Hundreds of foreign companies have chosen Singapore as their regional headquarters shooting its per capita gross domestic product 100 times in the past half a century.
The ability to steer the country personally, dominating its institutions, his pursuit of “Asian values”, which put the interests of society ahead of the rights of the individual was what made the people accept him as his leaders.
Singapore model’s downside
Like everything else this coin also had two sides, at home all was not smiles, the LKY equation was coming under strain. Prices, particularly of property, have rocketed in recent years, causing grumbles about the standard of living from those ordinary citizens who live outside the high-roller. Despite the obstacles of what has been described as a “partly free” political system, the opposition increased its score at the last election – though still only taking six seats. The low birth-rate has led to a demographic problem. The oil trade, for which the port is a major hub, is not what it used to be and China’s slowdown is affecting the regional economy.
How India takes inspiration for Singapore
Keeping in mind its pros are better than cons, the Central government is pondering on the option of adopting the ‘Singapore model’ to deal with Islamic radicalization with assistance from states to bring out the “reformed elements” and “victims of terrorism” and has asked the states to give their inputs on the same.
“The effort is to get back the Indian youth who have got drawn by organisations like the Islamic State (IS) in the recent past due to various reasons,” said a senior UP government official. “There is a need for eminent Muslim religious leaders to come forward with credible counter-narratives and alternate narratives,” he added.
India’s model of deradicalisation
According to the model, a radicalised youth will not go through an extended criminal trial; a religious rehabilitation mechanism will be there with the help of popular scholars and community leaders. It focuses on imparting a sense of belonging to the de-radicalised youth and promotes inter-community harmony besides national integration. Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Assam were among a few states who have sought assistance from MHA.
“For Indian conditions, among various counter-radical programmes being undertaken by different countries, the Singapore model, (which is) a combination of hard security measures and stringent laws with community involvement, is best suited. Action may be taken by DGP of states or UTs,” stated a note sent on January 21 by Union ministry of home affairs (MHA).
The officials have begun formulating a multi-layered and structured response mechanism to counter the threat from radicalised youth, especially those linked to the Islamic State.
In the process, sources said, the MHA has asked the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to formulate a standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with radical materials and websites along with a multi-layered counselling system involving the family, clergy and professionals for de-radicalisation of infected youth.
Also, it is learnt that the MHA is working on creating a dedicated division within the ministry, which will be assigned the task of disseminating efficient counter-narrative to the radical viewpoint.
While passports of indoctrinated individuals travelling abroad on Indian travel document to join the IS are proposed to be revoked, the counter-radicalisation framework will take care of the reformed elements as well the victims of terrorism, sources said.
As part of the efforts towards counter-radicalisation, a close watch will be maintained on foreign receipts of Wahhabi-Salafi platforms similar to Islamic Research Foundation (of Zakir Naik) that have received substantive foreign receipts over the last few years. The IB has been asked to devise a mechanism to monitor foreign receipts by radical organizations and share the information with the states. The Ministry of External Affairs has its own strategy to deal with “anti-national propaganda” with the cooperation of states.
Featured image source: Pixabay
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