Friday, May 20, 2011

National Intelligence Grid Of India In Doldrums

National intelligence grid (Natgrid) is a pilot project of Home Ministry of India. Natgrid has been launched to tackle growing terrorist attacks and terrorism cases in India. Besides, Natgrid can also be used to prevent serious crimes and cyber crimes.

Natgrid project is accompanies by national counter terrorism centre (NCTC) of India. However, till now neither Natgrid nor NCTC has been able to see the light of the day. Bureaucratic hurdles and lack of proper planning is the main reason why these crucial projects are not even able to take a start.

After 26/11, India vowed it would never be caught napping again and the ambitious idea of National Intelligence Grid was born. It was widely believed to be Home Minister P. Chidambaram's visionary plan, a powerful real-time 24X7 networking of 21 databases to stitch all information and raise alarm. It has now been almost two years and there is no sign of any implementation of Natgrid project.

There seems to be two main reasons for non functional Natgrid and NCTC projects. The first is the fear that Home Ministry would become all powerful Ministry to deal with intelligence related works. If sensitive information is left at the disposal of Home Ministry other Ministries may not like the idea. Further, this is the reason why NCTC project has not moved an inch forward.

The second reason for the failure of Natgrid and NCTC projects is absence of privacy, data security and data protection safeguards in these projects. In a zeal to deal with terrorism related cases, Home Minister P Chidambaram ignored the civil liberties requirements altogether. To make the matter worst we have no e-surveillance policy in India and our intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies are practically governed by no law and without any Parliamentary oversight. Thus, fears of privacy violations have also plagued Natgrid and NCTC projects.

Although the intentions of Home Ministry are good yet they have not been executed in a planned and coordinated manner. In these circumstances the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) may not clear these much needed projects. I wish the Home Ministry would take care of all these issues so that both Natgrid and NCTC may be operational in India.

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