The Real Security
First I would like to congratulate both Uday India and IBM for organising this symposium on “Government’s Security Initiatives and the Role of Technology”. I would like to present a bird’s eye view of what types of initiatives have been taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and whether the security solutions provided are very specific to the Indian situation. Technology is with us whether you like it or not. You cannot avoid this.
I must emphasise that technology plays a very vital role in ensuring security. Categorising into bits, like close circuit televisions (CCTVs) should be installed where they are needed most and more important is whether they all are working well. Besides, everything should be made available online 24×7. In the world of cyber, details whether it be small or big ought to be on the websites and no updates should be omitted. After all, transparency and clarity play a big role in security, something we realised in the process of recruitment of security personnel (paramilitary organisations).
As regards recruitment, I would like to say that the whole process should be divided in terms of their physical, medical, mental and moral tests. Besides, multiple rounds will enable us to get the desired personnel. In addition, technology must be the parameter to recruitment; by this I mean he should be literate and well versed in technical know-how. When we recruited policemen, the basic problem that we faced was that there were complaints that people are getting in for other considerations rather than for merit. Therefore a transparent and fair based method of recruitment was critical to get the reforms in the police force.
TECHNOLOGY IS THE ANSWER
I will share few experiences with you about counter insurgency. When I was IG BSF in Kashmir. In September 1994, a group of Harkat- ul-Ansar that was raised in Pakistan, had come into Kashmir. And they were moving in the area, east of the Peer Panjal, the Himalayan Range. It is an area where there is no deployment of paramilitary forces or the army. It is called the Wadhwa Valley. They kidnapped four British citizens in that area who were on a trekking expedition. If you know Kashmir, you must have heard of Pahalgam and close to Pahalgam, there is a trekking site. And though there was insurgency in Kashmir, foreigners used to come and trek in that area. And in this area, there was no deployment of force. Some insurgents were there but generally they were not in the trekking area. So when they found out that foreigners are coming, they thought they would kidnap them. But by the time our whole communication process was directed in the BSF, we with the army had monitored the channels. We found out that there were people sitting on the top who were sending messages across to Pakistan and also receiving messages from Pakistan.
This interception would be put up to me every day. So naturally I informed the advisor straight away. General Zakib was the advisor at that time I think and we used to have discussions about it. There were two three ladies with them and Harkat-ul-Ansar group would say that we didn’t take women and they shut them in one of the empty tourist house bungalows which is deep in the interior. Of course it is an eroding plateau, there are not many trees in the area. It is above 10,000 feet. They sent a message that we want Masood Azhar to be returned. He was theoretician of Jamia uloom ul Islam who came to Kashmir in 1993 to organize Harkat ul Ansar in that area. And by chance, he killed an army officer, a major who was working in the border roads. Because of this the army deployed a whole battalion in that area, in the Anantnaag area. By chance this man was going in an auto along with other person named Langaryal. They were picked up by the army. Masood Azhar was a very important man and this kidnapping was done to get him exchanged.
When the British High Commissioner landed up in Srinagar and we met him, we showed him that these are the intercepts which we should not have done. We told him that this is Harkat-Ul-Ansar that has done it. The British High Commission immediately contacted his people and if I am not wrong, Benazir Bhutto was still the prime minister of Pakistan at that time. And the prime minister of England talked to her. And the directions were given that these four prisoners should be released. And the four of them were released. And the exchange was done. They were brought to Anantnaag and they were let loose and we picked up the tourists.
In 1995, this was repeated. Again they were kidnapped. And this time, it was a group of seven or eight people, somebody was from Germany, somebody from United States. And again they asked for the return of Masood Azhar. But this time they didn’t return the persons. The government of India probably refused. Since the US citizen was involved, the US ambassador had come. We showed them the same intercepts. Unfortunately those were killed one after one. I am quite sure that satellite technology was there at that time. And we were unable to survey from the top and find out where these people were. Unfortunately we didn’t get a clue. It’s a very vast area of rolling plateaus and valleys. At that place, technology couldn’t help us. And if we could have got the locations, we could have parachuted 100 commandos.
In 1994, Gen Krishna Rao was the governor of the J&K. He was taking the salute on the parade ground on the occasion of the Republic day. The ground is quite open but 15 days before the ground is checked properly with censors, the dice is prepared and the parade takes place. A militant called Irfan who was from Pakistan had planted the explosive about six feet below the ground. Our metal detectors couldn’t detect anything under one and a half feet. When the parade finished, and Krishna Rao was about to speak, the bomb exploded. Naturally, there was chaos everywhere. When the investigation was done, we found that the bomb was planted some five to six feet below the ground.
Again in September 1995 when the Amarnath yatra was to be conducted, there are places where camps are established from Pehelgam, Chandanwari, Panchtarni and then on to the actual place of Amarnath where the actual shrine is. Now in winter there is heavy snowfall of about 5 to 6 feet or 10 feet. When the snow melts in May or June, first the army patrol goes to the area, clears the area. When the tents are pitched, there is a square for each tent and a rough indication is there that even if there is snow, there is a tent here. There was a civilian tent in Chandanwari and another army camp in Sheshnaag. There was a man in the civilian camp sleeping in the afternoon and the bomb exploded and he jumped 20 feet above the ground and died. Luckily, in the army camp, all were patrolling; so no one died. But the point is how to detect a bomb which is 5 feet below the ground. I hope technology has found an answer to these questions by now.
That was the first step and therefore a series of steps and standard-operating procedures that are on the website of the MHA was introduced in consultation with the police departments and National Police Mission. And it involved in one sense the technology in terms of having CCTV cameras and the selection process was made in such a way that if there were allegations that somebody was favoured then it could always be looked into. Here, computer made things easier for people. There were websites for people to know where they stood in terms of the positions in various fields of test.
Biometrics were introduced so that they can have A coming for the physical test, B coming for the written test, C coming for medical and D coming in for final papers certificates to get recruited. It was to make sure that if people have to do four rounds as a part of physical exercise, they have to cross four rounds. It is not that you will do three rounds and get away. So technology in all the aspects came into the recruitment process primarily to improve the basis of our objective of having a transparent and fair system.
The next element which we have got technology involved in is training. That is where we still have a long way to go. The training in the police force is possibly the weakest link today. We train IPS officers quite considerably. But in case of the station officers, constables and the sub-inspectors, the training is very low. Therefore, for improving the training element, whether it is audio-visual or video conferencing or the documentation of the training itself, a tremendous amount of technology is still underway in most of the police training colleges. Of course, thanks to the 2000 crores of rupees that the 13th Finance Commission has given to the state police forces, a lot of technology is coming into the training, and as far as I know, a lot of foreign universities and police forces have started taking interest in long-distance training element which is very critical at the grassroots level and that is where the maximum visibility is turned in terms of weapons, vehicles, communication equipment you see in all the latest levels of technology that are coming into the system. After all, we have seen the results of 2010 in Kashmir, when due to stone pelting, a lot of students got killed. The whole element was how to make the Police Force respond to the hostile crowd and how to handle that crowd. Again technology came in a large way like you have water canons, guns, pepper spray and full length shields rather than the small wooden shields due to which the constables were getting hit when people threw stones.
It was a great pleasure listening to Mr. Pillai. That is the time when the government started taking initiatives as for the security management of the nation. That was a new area started absolutely. One of the finest initiatives that the government took was to regulate the private security industry. Maybe, the government has realised that there are several million people in the country , in the private security industry and they have a great role to play in the private security and the security of the people. When I talk of technology at seminars, I am amazed to see the kind of progress in technology and its applications. Let me tell you my personal experience. You need a man behind a machine. Where are those skilled people? You have the finest technology from various countries. People do come from various countries, deliver those machines, give you 15 days training and go back. After 15 days that gentleman goes back, something happens and there is no effect. A lot of money is wasted. The initiative is not being taken forward.
So we need skilled people at all levels to take care of these innovations. Another bomb attack and there are questions about the metal detectors. Huge money is spent on the metal detectors. Millions of rupees are spent on the purchase of metal detectors. When you go to a five star hotel, you see a well dressed gentleman, a private security guard will open your car dickey and he moves that device and there is a sound and he is very happy and says—Move ahead. My point is that the entire car is made of iron; definitely there will be a sound. What is the use of that detector? And there was another device known as a bomb detector. I asked, what is the function? He told if there was a bomb, the device would detect it? I asked if any bomb was ever found. I insisted on its function, I said that there is a bomb in my car. He looked at me and said—You are kidding me. And when he started there was no light in it. That damn thing was not working. Millions of rupees are spent on CCTVs and not a single person is trained what to see on a CCTV.
I went to see a large museum in India. The ministry had sent me to carry out some security audit. I went to the director and he was very happy and I saw that there were seven eight monitors on his left side. He said that we have CCTV at every important painting. I asked how you would see these monitors. These should be in the front and you are such a busy man, you are the director. There should be a security officer’s room. He said—you are right sir, I am not able to look at these monitors. So this is the situation. You go to a railway station, huge money is wasted on the monitors, on the technology because we do not have skilled people. Now we have started as per the Prime Minister initiative to upscale the several million security guards. They will be trained as per the national occupational standards already drafted by us. I assure Mr Pillai that in the next three years, the entire force of several million people will be trained to handle the technology because we have the national occupational standards.
Two things which I personally believe are important. The first one is capacity building, build the capacity of the people who would use it. And before that, carry out a capability audit of the entire nation security machinery. Then you will realise what is needed and whether these people are competent to run the machines or not. These are the important areas—skills and the audits. After matching with these, then whatever technology you bring with the correspondent people, we will train the people in technology from the grassroots level and this we are going to do in next three years.
Another major area is intelligence gathering. We need cutting-level technology to make our national intelligence grid functional and effective. Then we have to combat counterinsurgencies. In Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East, we have a lot of experience. But in fighting Maoists and Left-wing extremists, the technology is not so effective. That is why companies have been asked to try and adapt their equipments which are perhaps used in Iraq and Afghanistan in a particular type of situation but not relevant in India. In jungles in Chhattisgarh and Odisha, their equipment are not so effective. So there is a whole pile of R& D work which is needed to make UAVs and result in more meaningful general training. Even a simple thing like mosquitoes is a big problem. Malaria is one of the biggest killers in all these jungles. Everybody puts an Odomos or any kind of commercial thing. When we did an interrogation of Maoists, they said if any patrol which is out there in the night, they can smell it. Thus, we will have to make odourless repellents through the use of technology. Companies should be asked to make odourless repellents, otherwise you are getting exposed.
Investigation is another key area. Keeping that in mind, the MHA has set up an independent department of Forensics. Investigation, whether it is a big crime or small crime or even a traffic accident, must follow a standard-operating procedure. See the famous (or notorious) Arushi case. Here, everybody has a different view. And it has been due to the fact that we do not have a standard-operating manual or procedure. These are simple things but very important.
TOWARDS SAFE CITIES
I would like to compliment Mr GK Pillai for bringing an insight into the contribution of the government into integration of technology and security. I will bring out two concepts very briefly. One is the concept of safe cities and another is the concept of training assimilation. Post 9/11, a paradigm shift came into the world, where the cities got threatened. We need to look at the concept of safe cities. There are so many large cities in our country, huge population, 20 to 20.5 million. When we talk of safe cities like London, when you walk, you are photographed 32 times. When you travel on road, you are photographed 18 times. These are all factual figurers that I am quoting to you. We have to pay a charge while travelling to inner circle London and there is no barrier. Your number plate is automatically photographed and you are informed on the net and then you pay on the net and you are done with it. This is the part of the technology of the safe cities.
Now take example of Delhi, when you enter the border, you find a long line of trucks waiting and you curse. You spend 4-5 hours in the main journey and then you have to spend 2 more hours at the border to enter Delhi. We have technology through which we can scan even a moving truck for any objectionable item like explosives. When you go to a cinema hall, you get this physical check and the guy exactly does not know what he is looking for. When there is a system, nobody is needed. Your car is automatically scanned for all the items. Some of the organisations which are very small and highly secretive have introduced few of such systems but why the whole city cannot do this? Why we still are depending upon the physical check for the security?
Cyber security is another area which is of a great concern. There are more and more people using internet and net facility as far as banking is concerned, payment is concerned. The biggest crime is going to be the cyber security. Next comes the mobile security. It is also a matter of concern as today an IED can be triggered off through the mobile as today you do not need a switch system to trigger an IED. There is a need for the service provider to check what elements should be put in so that it is not misused. Take public areas for example, in Delhi, we have so many CCTV cameras put in, firstly half of them are not working, secondly you are not able to recognise your face. Thirdly, as one of the panelists say that the man sitting at the monitor does not know what to see in it. That is the unfortunate part.
We are not realising that life is very important. But in our country, Human life is not so important. While staying abroad, you see that they have gone for a ‘safe city’ concept because human life matters to them. And that is the duty of the government, the country and the countrymen to see that we have safe human lives. And this can be done through technology. There is so much technological facility available today that can be imbibed, used, deployed and we can have a central command room system which monitors the entire security system whether it is communication, whether it is traffic whether it is monitoring a cricket match going on.
I think public private partnership is the need of the hour. We should have a PPP in this concept because I do not expect the government to do all this. It has to be a joint venture where many different people can come and play different roles. We should utilise the modern technologies which are available in the world. We need to take up some holistic approach. IBM is going to play a very important role in this because we are doing lot of work as far as the security is concerned. If we have PPT in this i don’t think that Govt has to do all this alone, this has to be a joint venture when people can play a different role for a better city. So there is one area which we need to look at.
Next aspect I will touch upon the training and simulation technology. I don’t know how many of you know about the bullet train in Japan. The driver is trained for ten hours in simulation, that’s all. And they put on the train thereafter. Similarly in America if you talk of a tank driver, the tank driver doesn’t drive tank at all. He is just put on the simulation training for 24 hours, that is all. This is the type of technology that is being utilized by these countries to train people for very very highly demanding job. You can imagine a bullet train driven at 500km/hour without being anything else but the simulation train. The one area the Goverment needs to look into is simulation training. You get all types of simulator in the world. Many of the them are available within our country itself. Lot of work has been done in Bangalore for simulation training. Whether it is fire, whether it is shooting, whether it is driving I can name host of them. I think this is one area we are lacking in training.
Similarly take the case of recent fire incident at Mantralaya in Mumbai. The Firemen had some fire drills because of which the causalities were minimised. But still it is to be asked why their first response when the fire broke out was not good enough in dousing the fire. And that was because our people do not do enough mock-drills. That is an area where we have to learn a lot from our defence forces. When I was in the Ministry of Defence, I saw repeated mock drills of high order being done at places like Vayu Bhavan. Mock drills, I stress, help learn a lot so that one can understand how one can react to the abrupt situation and how one can handle the toughest of the situation without getting panicky. I remember there were frequent such drills in MHA and they were both educative and informative. We carried out a mock drill in Home Ministry which was highly publicised. We had a situation which witnessed many officers going here and there and searching for important and top secret files. We should carry such drills again and again so that one should know what to do in time of critical condition in order to reduce casualties and save important documents.
If we look at the traffic scene in India it’s more horrifying as thousands of innocent people die on road and this figure stands too tall against those get killed in a terror attack. Can’t we save those getting killed for simply walking on the road? We put so much of initiative into terrorism and insurgency. We lose 2000 people in terror activities but we lose 1,38,000 people in road accidents every year. Nobody is bothered. Over 30 lakh are injured. The injury is sometimes permanent or it can be semi permanent. The country’s loss is significant which is 20 billion dollars per year as estimated by WHO. It is good to take this aspect into account that while we beef up security after every mishap; we should take road safety measures into consideration equally seriously.
We know whenever a country gets invaded, the whole country, the whole govt, the whole society puts all its resources and its focussed attention is towards the enemy. Whatever is possible, we do and rightly so. But except countries like India and Afghanistan, normally not many countries get invaded. But the kind of money and resources that are paid for the defense is huge. We are supposed to be the largest importer of the weapons but what is the impact? What kind of technology do we have are we able to stop infilteration? No. Are we supposed to stop infilteration? No. Do we have the best of the weapons? No. Do we have the best of the transport? No. You just heard about tetra trucks and all.
How many countries after the second world war have been occupied by the foreign countries?None. Except for Kuwait, no country has been invaded and occupied. But after the second world war, there have been 40 countries who have lost their existence or sovereignty or independence. Out of these 40, 32 i.e 80 per cent of them have lost their sovereignty on account of their internal security problems.
And these include Soviet Russia, Yugoslovakia, Pakistan, Nepal. And what kind of resources we get to tackle these problems? Sometimes we do not get financial support from the resources. The government in our country pays less attention towards these issues. The result is that the problem persists.We have problems in Kashmir and North East for the last 65 years. This is the attitude of society in general and the govt in particular. This is an unfortunate aspect.
As far as the technology and intelligence part are concerned, there is a very deep relationship, but technology has certain limitations. There is a concept called human intelligence. Even if somebody from outside is able to hear me, he will need somebody to tell what am I saying. He will need somebody to take my pictures. Human intelligence is very necessary. The attack on parliament was known ten days in advance. It was not known to IB only but was circulated to all the important departments not only in Delhi but throughout the country. It was not known exactly when it would happen but it was that this would happen shortly. All that was needed was to alert the security there to take certain extra measures.
As far as expertise in technology is concerned, I will tell you that we have great respect for Israel for this kind of technology. I remember we were in a certain situation and we were asked to consult Israeli consultants. We told them that this is our problem that people come to rural sites, they stay there for a night, even if the person wants to inform us, he is unable to do so. How to overcome this problem? They said that they would come back. They are yet to come back. This was about twenty years back. We cannot put question on the technical surveillance. We have to develop it in such a way that the other side does not know about it. For this we have to make human enquiries. This is a difficult job. But the Israeli investigating officers are much ahead of us. Whatever we do, we will buy technology from them only. But they have lot of respect for us due to our human intelligence.
Of course, corruption is another issue that is constantly posing a threat to the traffic system as a whole but I have seen the city of Bengaluru where traffic police department has no corruption at all, thanks to the technology. Every police wallah there carries a BlackBerry-like phone, records the details and loads it down and packs home. And if you are violating traffic rules, mind that you have been caught on camera and hence slapped challan as the eye of a CCTV is working without a blink. You just can’t pretend. Of course, in Bengaluru, we have got all the major software IT companies. The Bangalore Police spent Rs 45 crore on the traffic system within a span of one year and recovered 80 crore in 18 months. The Finance Ministry has been so impressed that it has given them 80 crore rupees to further improve the system.
Whether you like it or not, technology is critical even if you don’t use it, because others will be using it to create problems for you. This is particularly true in the context of cyber security. Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) has brought out a report on cyber security which is on its website that shows all the challenges and what could happen if we are not careful enough.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
When you are talking about the acceleration of technology, what I have seen in my childhood or the generation before me was the era of bullock carts. Of course, the railways were there, little communication was there. When you compare the history, the technology probably ten generations or twenty generations before you will find little change. When the transformation takes place it has to have an impact on the warfare, the way they look at security and more importantly the threats.
There was a place called Jammu in Bihar. There was a Maoist attack on the tribals there. The tribals had attacked tribals. There were atleast 20-30 frantic calls from various mobile phones and the police didn’t respond. Those tribals faced the onslaught of Maoist for almost four hours. And then, they killed them. So, there was technology, technology was used to provide real time information. But the response to that technology was inadequate. In a similar incident, the Maoist attacked road construction party at two o clock in the night. Again 14-15 calls went that they had assembled there and they were going to attack because the contractor had refused to meet their demands of extortion. I went to the police sation after a few days and asked the SHO and he said: We coudnt have done anything. If we would have gone we could have been blown up by the mines. Again look at what the information did. As a state apparatus we didn’t respond to that.
Another interesting instance is when i was doing a piece of work on Maoism, I went to the worst-affected district. I went to Dantewada. I was talking to the collector of Dantewada and he said…… Maoists are not allowing us to extend the electricity under the Rajiv Gandhi Vidyutikaran Yojana to the Maosit affected areas. Reason was because they feel that once the electricity goes, people will watch television. The Moaists have adopted very novel methods. They would put huge piles of woods below electricity pylons and they would put the woods on fire due to which the pylons would melt. So we see that technology can also be used as a tool of perception management. And how scared are Maoist of people getting any real perception? Today technology allows you to make your psychological warfare perception ally guided.
On security affairs, everybody is having a different view. The forms of warfare has changed and we must realise that there is no difference between internal and external security. When you talk of police , the job is very very difficult. What is the basic job of police…….. Crime Investigation, Crime Prevention, traffic control, FIR, there are whole lot of legal issues. They are not designed to fight an internal war.
Therefore, there is not much difference between internal and external security. Whether the army likes it or not, these are the situations they are confronted with. The technology has moved ahead, and the wars will not be tailor-made for you and if the army says that the Maoist insurgency is not their problem, then sorry, I totally differ with this view. It is not that it is his job or the Police job. The only deciding factor is that the level of violence has gone so high. What technology has done is that it has created a new paradigm as far as the war is concerned.
Now comes the cyber warfare. Few years back I knew from my sources that more than 3000 entities in Delhi were attacked by the Chinese. It was not reported truthfully. Some of the very very important entities from one Ministry were compromised. It may be another scam. But then, most of the cyber attacks have been emanated not from the Chinese soil but by the Russian mafia. That is the potential of today’s warfare. These warriors are today’s young generation. No matter how hard we try, we cannot be as good as our children in handling this entire cyber business, primarily because of what they have been exposed to. This is a different warfare where the soldiers are different and we have to focus on the cyber soldiers as well.
The entire use of technology was made after Kargil Review Committe . when the need of NDRO was filed. I don’t know how far they have moved.
Mr Pillai talked about NATGRID. My information is that NATGRID is still years behind. The mistake we did was that our response was reactive Americans sat for two years before the launch, they had software ready for everything. I told you the new form of warfare. The police, the directorate of revenue intelligence, the Law Enforcement, the RBI all of them, operate on a certain programme. And the co-ordination and reconciliation of these programmes is quite difficult . I won’t say it is impossible but at this moment it is not being done.
There is a definitive imperative for NATGRID or unique identification system or even NCTC. Insurgency will always be the central problem. My only complaint is that there is an attempt to politics the NCTC. There cannot be situation when the chief Minister is asking for MCOCA and you don’t give it to him and you expect him to co-operate on the NCTC. The politicization of the entire security system is leading us nowhere. These are the thoughts I will leave to you.
While technology is very important, I may bring to your attention that we are short of manpower in the police force. The number of policemen in many police stations at many places is very low. I have seen at some places like Bihar where there are possibly 65 policemen for a lakh of population. We can’t make any impact unless that number goes to at least 200. Even Chhattisgarh has got 150 now, despite the fact that they have doubled their force in the last five years. This is very critical. In this context, I must say with due regard to IMF and World Bank that in India, downsizing the government will never help. There are many areas such as security and policing, where the country needs more manpower in general and educated man power in particular.
CHANGING THE MINDSET
I am no IT expert but since my days at college in DU, computer was in a big building where we used to punch cards. It was an IBM centre to the days when our supercomputer was in narcotics department to the days of smartphones we all carry in our hands, we have come a long way. Income tax is probably the first government department which opted for computerisation a long time back. The success stories have been mixed like khatta meetha. Like when the databases were good, the connectivity was poor or when the connectivity was improved, the human officers were not trained to handle that.
I would like to talk about the challenges faced by the government. Our income tax department did a beautiful experiment. We used to have in our intelligence and investigation wing individual officers who were very good at certain things. One officer is very good at phone tapping. He will excel in recognising people even after years together. I have noticed these young inspectors and officers who would just roll the pages of their diary and then recognise the people even after one and a half years or three years. Then we had officers who were experts at finding out frauds and money laundering trials. And people like P.S. Thomas used to sit in a room with no wall and not a very exciting thing like movies with piles and piles of financial statements and photo copies mostly all around with some yellow and red pen tracing the money trials.
Along with IBM, we used technology to institutionalise this learning. As the problem was howsoever hard you try, the best expertise will be taken away after some time. He will be replaced by someone who will have to start again. Majority of this learning has now gone into FIU. Most of you in government will know that FIU keeps a very low profile for good reasons but the results have been very good. I think that the use of technology in any government department will do well. It also gives lot of courage. Today, we do things that we want to do and then we say that system gave us the alert which is true. Cases like Hasan Ali have never been possible in a manual environment. The trials are so complicated. When technology gives you the alert, that alert is still very foggy and raw, then we need human intelligence to go and check that fact.
I was given information when cash was being poured into some 55 accounts across west Bengal. We thought some naxals must be doing it. My officer was so tempted to raid that place that he asked let’s do it tomorrow. But this guy turned out to be a bidi seller. This happens when we base everything on technology and it turns out to be nothing. This problem still remains the same. I made a youth network for the government of India. I have tried the technology part at the grassroots level.
In 2003, we found Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Technology. It was a computer with internet facility in a village. 5oo computers were set up. The government decided if we had one computer in one district that would empower the youth. Probably people sitting in Delhi have no idea how big the districts are. We were not able to complete 500 computers per district. The reason behind this was that the ministry said that the district could have only one UPS. Besides, in most parts of the country, we don’t have electricity for so many days or even weeks.
I went to Planning Commission and said that please allow me generators. The cost of PC was one and a half lakh rupees then, officiality. The actual cost was 50,000 rupees. I asked the government to allow me to purchase at an actual cost but the government said that no, you cannot purchase it at actual cost. Those working with the government will realise that plans and policies are very fixated things and it will take another five years to revive those things again. We give our officers smart phones through which they can access data and get updates but when I went to Calcutta, I found that the 3G does not work there. In Delhi, it is fine. In Mumbai, it is fine but in Calcutta, it is not working.
Besides filling the vacancy in government jobs, a drive to educate all should be brought into force so that literacy rate should show a healthy sign in times to come and simultaneously those educated will get work to survive. Indian government must step even with greater force to create jobs to the unemployed. The most important challenge in front of the government is to create jobs. By 2015, we will have 600 million people in school going age. If we don’t create 50 million jobs every year, we will have millions of people unemployed. And if we have more people unemployed, then there is every possibility that they would enter the world of crime.
As it is, as the conviction rate is only 10-12 per cent in India, there is a greater attraction for many to enter into the crime world. Criminals and accused get away very easily or get little punishment for a serious offence. This stretches the crime graph upward. Therefore, education and job opportunities are vital for security.
All this does not mean that I am a pessimist of India’s future. Rural areas of India offer you hope and optimisim. Whenever I visit villages, I return as a very optimist man because the real picture of India is there and there people are positive about their future, something you do not feel when you see “NDTV” or “Times Now”. Seeing these channels will make you pessimist and disheartened. We live in a world (cities) which is totally unreal. This is not what is happening in the field. People there see a good future for them. They see that they can do things. They see progress and changes that are taking place and want to take advantage of that. If you see regional TV channels like ETV for 30 minutes, you will find the difference and see two different India. The key to future lies in employment for our youth, failing which no security system, whether the government or private, will be able to cope with the security system.
Thanks to Uday India and IBM for organising this symposium on security issues.
By GK Pillai