ICT and Safe State

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become an essential element in making governments’ fit for the 21st century; providing trustworthy and qualitative services that are oriented to the needs of citizens and businesses. Increased violence by non-state actors, and the spur in extremism, terrorism and anarchism in countries across the globe, with clear intentions of undermining the faith of people on state authorities, indeed to the very concept of a democratic safe state itself, has alarmed the governments the world over to tighten their seat belts.

Disastrous events, pandemics, environmental calamity, and terrorist attacks pose additional threats to public security. Much more alarming is the increasing terror attacks and loss of life due to them.  There have been 2,929 terrorism-related deaths around the world since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, as per the NBC News analysis of September 2004. The developed world is turning to technology and is using latest surveillance systems, situational modeling and visualisation software, chemical/biological detection monitors to counter terrorism.

The recent 26/11 terrorists’ attack in Mumbai, India, has forced the Indian government and the private agencies to seriously consider improving the country’s homeland security apparatus.  The situation is even more grim, given the fact that the terrorists today are extremely techno-savvy. Coupled with this, India has poor policing, poor intelligence, ill-equipped security agencies and weak criminal justice making it extremely difficult for any security agency to operate. Given this scenario, Government of India intends to spend USD 10 billion on India’s homeland security in the coming 2-3 years. Government has set up a National Investigation Agency to deal with cross- border terrorism. The top security agencies in India are leveraging the benefits of ICT for securing India.

However, when it comes to policing, India just not lack in terms of technology but also in terms of transparency, reforms, standardised Police to People ratio and most importantly citizen centric governance. Even though the service delivery in the country is undergoing a complete transformation through e-Government implementation, till date one finds it a big hassle to lodge an FIR, especially the uneducated and deprived sections of our society. Intelligence gathering and sharing are areas where ICT could be leveraged in a big manner. Recently, Ministry of Home Affairs has taken some steps while proposing projects like CCTNS and Natgrid, in this direction. Nevertheless, the readiness and usability of the infrastructure created through these projects, by the various government agencies, will be an issue. Its high time that the government take cognisance of these lacunae in public safety and security in the country and make India progress towards a true ‘Safe State’.

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