“Information Technology Is Core To India’s Security”—Kamlakar Kaul
For 29 years, Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL) has been spearheading its telecommunication odyssey in India and over 50 countries abroad. Its array of services include sharing information, executing projects and providing customer friendly solutions nationally and globally. It has built a vast network of reliable vendors and contractors in order to set up cost efficient networks all over the world. With telecom giants of global stature as competitors, TCIL has maintained the high level competence as a result of its design finesse, planning precision, engineering acumen, quality management and maintenance support and training.
Since its inception in 1978, TCIL has come a long way, but the organisation aims at higher and higher goals, often challenging. And in pursuing this challenging task, TCIL’s Executive Director Kamlakar Kaul is playing a great leadership role. Having worked as the Chief Strategy Officer (Govt) at EMC Computer Systems, Country Manager at Hewlett Packard India Sales Pvt. Ltd, Operations Director at HCL Technology, General Manager at HCL Info systems, Technical Director at HCL Perot Systems and the Managing Director at National Informatics Centre Services Inc. in the past, Kaul joined the TCIL in February 2011. He has extensive knowledge of the IT industry and its ever expanding role.
In an exclusive interview with Praveer Bagchi for Uday India, Kaul says how IT can play very important role in augmenting India’s internal security. Excerpts:
Even after 26/11, Indian cities continue to be insecure. Why?
My experience suggests that if IT doesn’t come in a large way into security, it can’t be managed. Security today involves many aspects that require simultaneous management. And that can be facilitated best by IT. Security is known from the police perspective, paramilitary or defense perspective. What we have to probably do if IT becomes the core is to get all the security related information from all the cities, integrate them, analyse them and present a overall national picture.
Whenever there is a breach in the security, the final outcome which we know is an explosion but the things that are happening before need to be captured. If we know the alerts, we can avoid the final outcome. And for capturing them, IT has to play its role.
How can the inputs be better coordinated? Do you think our security people need to be more IT conscious?
When one talks of IT, there are few experts but more end- users. If we divide the complete security process into smaller parts and identify, we’ll find the experts. Experts are needed; their expertise is needed. But what is equally important is that the end-users also need some training. For instance, how to install cameras in public places and more important keeing them in working condition requires some knowledge and practice.
Coming to IT and security, the integration involves a process, say from collecting information to analyzing information to strategizing action-plans. Here, what is the level of achievement?
Thoughts are already available. Somebody needs to think through and develop a core of structure. What are the inputs one gets? They are the e-mails, voice communication, third is probably videos and then the cameras which are available at all the important spaces in our country.
But do they really function? As was witnessed during the recent bomb blast in Delhi High Court, there were the cameras but they were not functioning.
What happens is that people put things there and then forget about them. It is important therefore that after an instrument gets commissioned, we have to keep monitoring of what is happening. Unfortunately, this not exactly happening many a time. Somewhere this process slows down. That explains also why often FIRs in our country are not going online, the computer records are not going online and the computer records are not maintained properly.
Do you think that in this process the private sector can play a part?
Private sector per se is important when the deployment of equipment is there. They can deploy very fast. But at the end, analysis and monitoring should be done by the government.
One is told that that the Government is funding a huge amount of money on this aspect. Then why is it that results are not that satisfactory?
I won’t say that it’s failing per se. See, in area of computerization, the first phase is that of awareness. When the computerization of government offices started, what was done was that a terminal was put on the table, whether people needed or not. The thought was that someday the person would be interested and open it up and see what is happening there. And then slowly, interest started growing, resulting in demands for applications. That was the stage when it took off. Say for any of the large projects, somebody did the first job of creating processes, putting up things together. And once the process was created, it was thought that probably it needed further upgradation and all that. It was easier for somebody to prepare a tender for that and ask the private sector to bid for. The point that I am making is that the first generation or the first phase usually takes 4-5 yrs time and that is very challenging. After that there are possibilities of many things and scenarios. That is how integrated solutions take place.
To manage individuals’ requirements may be simpler but to get government to move is little more complex. It will take time. When police computerization started, they started with showing the FIRs. At some places now, people have started looking at if FIRs can be written online. Recently, there was news in the papers that government was thinking that FIR would become online.
As a country, we never had a strategic culture. In that sense, how to sensitize security matters and how to involve IT here?
See, our society is not a regimental one. In regimental society, it would be easier to put everything in place. That’s why we are doing things in phases. Once people show the passion for it, things will happen very fast. If we can move from being a non- IT important country to be a country that is a superpower in software development, it is not that difficult. So I think if all the pieces come together, things should not be difficult.
I think what is important is that we must demonstrate some success stories in some selected cities as pilots. You can take one city, make a pilot and show how it works.
Can you identify some cities that your considering as pilots?
We have talked to various state governments and the response is positive. At least in some places, results are positive.
There was news in the media that the Red Fort is going to be under electronic eye but that has never been implemented and nobody is answerable. The government is spending money and it has to pick up the best so that it comes in a win-win situation. Should the tenders not be decided on the basis of the level of technology?
There is a way to the tendering process wherein one can find that the tenders are divided into technological and financial basis. There are separate point ratings for technical part which are higher than the financial point rating. That process is there and there have been many places where the quality has come up.
Would you suggest some kind of PPP model of one strong IT player along with the government who really takes upon itself the very primary subject of sensitizing the entire government?
Security is a sensitive area. There will be a lot to think at the back of whichever company comes in and how it operates and all that. To begin with, what we can do is to use PPP models as pilots and see how it works. It is important for the pilots to be successful. Otherwise the overall project suffers. Therefore it is important to carefully choose the pilots.