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MHA Guarded in Optimism on Cloud

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Career Glimpse

Born: 28 – 12 – 1959
Service: IAS
Cadre: Manipur Tripura
Allotment Year: 1986
Shambhu Singh is currently posted as the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Prior to this, he held the position of the Resident Commissioner for Manipur Government in New Delhi. He also served the Ministry of Science & Technology as the  Director.Earlier Singh had served Industries, Home and Health departments in the state of Manipur. Apart from these, Shambhu Singh has also worked as the Manager in the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation


Shambhu Singh
Joint Secretary (NE), Ministry of Home Affairs,
Government of India

Wait & Watch

“Since major part of the information we handle are classified, we may not be very comfortable with the Cloud technology… There may be many security features already available in the Cloud technology, but…we need to wait and watch”

Tell us about the activities of the North-East Division in the Union Home Ministry.

The North-East Division was created to focus on the security and developmental issues relating to the region. Unlike other parts of the country the North East holds an important position from strategic point of view as the states there share their borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. The terrain, the socio-economic development and factors like language, ethnicity, tribal rivalry, migration, issues of control over local resources, and a widespread feeling of exploitation and alienation have resulted in a fragile security situation in the north-eastern states.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is taking all possible steps to address the genuine demands of various ethnic groups for development and autonomy in managing their affairs. While the infrastructural developments like road, rail link, power supply, water supply etc. are dealt with by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and various other ministries, the issues relating to strengthening of security, rehabilitation of people affected by militancy, bringing underground outfits to the mainstream through negotiations, confidence building measures etc. are looked after by the North East Division. Diplomatic initiatives pertaining to security issues with Bangladesh and Myanmar are also taken to strengthen the security situation there.

How do you think that the use of ICT by various departments of the ministry can help in better work flow?

There are lot of advantages. We get the first advantage when the parliament is in session. With the use of information and communication system, we can get the correct information about the previous session, or whether any reply was given to a particular query or not. Sometimes, similar questions come up. But with the use of technology, we can ward off that possibility. With the system becoming computerized, we can properly manage the staff, deal with leave issues and better monitor movement of documents, among others. If there are any delays, we can pin-point it and fix the responsibilities. Since the ministry deals with security issues, delays could be fatal. So, we are generally very quick in the disposal of papers.

Many a time, forces inimical to India use social media platforms to fuel communal tension. Does ICT helps in countering those problems?

Basically, we don’t handle it directly; we have a separate department for that located in the Ministry of Information and Technology. However, we provide information to the authorities concerned about the malicious materials, if any, being circulated and get them blocked. We on our part, however, try to use social media to give the correct picture to the people and disseminate the right information using the technology.

Do you think the new-age tools like Cloud technology will come handy for the Home Ministry towards achieving its goals?

There is, of course, a serious concern about security, and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) itself is getting into the Cloud technology. Maybe, we also give it a try…we will have to take a call on it as to what extent we will make use of this technology. Since major part of the information we handle are classified, we may not be very comfortable with the Cloud technology. Let us see how the technology evolves… who knows what might happen tomorrow! There may be many security features already available in the Cloud technology, but it is still in evolution stage… We will have to wait and watch.

Delay Fixer

“As the ministry deals with security issues, delays could be fatal. So, generally speaking, we are very quick in the disposal of papers… With the system becoming computerized, we can even pin-point delays, if any, and fix the responsibilities”

Talking about the issue of illegal infiltration from across the border, how do you think ICT can be used to plug the holes?
ICT can play a crucial role here. If we apprehend a person who is not an Indian, we can maintain his details in the relevant database using a computer. And, with the help of ICT, we can approach the authorities concerned in his/her country to take up his case even electronically, if immediate trans-border movement of the person is not possible.

We have undertaken an ambitious project to collect fingerprints, palm prints, faces and iris samples of all the arrested and convicted persons in the country and store these in a central database. This biometric data will be accessible to all the police units across the country for getting real-time results on the identity of a suspect.

Under implementation by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the Automated Multimodal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS), will rival the much-acclaimed FBI Biometric Center of Excellence in the US, which has the biometric records of over 94 lakh offenders.

Any special initiative from your division on the development and security of NE?

As I said we mainly deal with the internal security issues…the developmental projects are being handled by other ministries. We only monitor the projects and keep them informed about their status as to whether a specific project was implemented or not.

What is your message for the CloudGov summit?

The event should highlight and bring to the notice of the government the kind of security tools available with this technology at this stage, so that we can take a call on whether to use the technology even in cases where the security aspect is involved. We maintain extreme caution in our day-to-day functioning, so much so that we never use computers connected to the Internet…we use standalone computers.

I wish the ClodGov summit the best!

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