Delivering the PC Lal Memorial Lecture, Menon underlined the principle of prevention and pre-emption while dealing with new terror threats and said reacting after an event did not seem to be a "satisfactory response".
The new threats were "much more potent" for the country's colonial police structures to cope up with, he said citing the firepower used by the terrorists during the attack in Mumbai in November 2008.
He said the government had made attempts to modernise laws and police structures with considerable progress being made to counter terrorism by setting up the National Investigation Agency and by amending the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
"But when it comes to giving practical effect to the amendment to the UAPA to be able to counter terrorism, we still end up in a huge debate on the NCTC," Menon said. Stressing on the need to act before, rather than after, the event, he said there was a need to evolve doctrines and capabilities and strategies to prevent "unacceptable damage".
"This would require India to create capabilities that would deter threats and would cause our enemies to desist," he said.
Menon pointed out that the UAPA amendments were passed unanimously by Parliament after the Mumbai attacks and they recognise the need to counter terrorism to prevent the commission of terrorist acts before they occur.