Saturday, November 12, 2011

Turf War In India Is Compromising Indian National Security

Indian national security is vulnerable from many angles and regarding many aspects. Whether it is internal security, external security, cyber security, anti terrorism capabilities, etc, India has to cover a long gap before Indian national security can be considered to be robust and effective.

It is not the case that India has not tried to work in this direction. But almost all the initiatives undertaken in this regard have either created multiple authorities and systems or they have been stalled for one reason or another.

For instance, Indian government launched projects like Aadhar, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), national counter terrorism centre (NCTC), central monitoring system (CMS), centre for communication security research and monitoring (CCSRM), etc. None of them are governed by any legal framework and none of them are under parliamentary scrutiny.

Similarly, a majority of these projects are simply overlapping with one another. They are supported by different ministries and departments of Indian government and their main purpose is to serve the concerned ministry or department alone. This has resulted in the emergence of a turf war between these ministries and departments.

For instance, while projects like NCTC, Natgrid, etc are essential for national security of India yet both Natgrid and NCTC have already been downsized. Turf war is preventing various ministries and departments in cooperating and collaborating various national security related projects.

For instance, the intelligence bureau (IB) director Nehchal Sandhu is not keen on the Natgrid and NCTC initiatives of home minister of India P. Chidambaram. Sandhu believes the two will dilute the IB’s vast charter.

A few days after the Delhi blasts in September this year, Sandhu shot off a missive to his senior-most officers seeking concrete suggestions on how to improve the agency’s counter-terrorism efforts. He was worried that the IB had failed to anticipate the terror attacks. More so, after Chidambaram admitted that “there was no prior intelligence” available.

Sandhu views NATGRID with suspicion. According to senior officials, NATGRID would be a major encroachment on the IB’s established terrain and also put fetters on its free access to sensitive data such as phone call records, intercepted emails, financial data, etc., that the agency currently enjoys complete access to. NATGRID will place elaborate protocols in place that seeks authentication of those who seek the information and also bars them from seeking anything that is beyond the set parameters.

It is high time to consider national interest first rather than own self interests that are jeoparadising the national security of India.

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