I cannot help if I am harping on this again and again. But something has
happened since, that no Indian can ignore. The Mumbai attacks have once again
exposed our vulnerability. Not a single day goes in the media without discussing
Indias emerging superpower status. I dont think any self-respecting nation can
tolerate such barbaric attacks on its people, such loss of lives, let alone a
superpower. We often compare with 9/11. But how many incidents have happened
after that? I do not even feel like counting such incidents in India!
This is what I was impatient about in my column in the last issue of DQ and
before that in the DQ Governance Quarterly. Success of e-governance projects is
fine, our great IT prowess and surging exports is fine, but how can we just sit
and watch as terrorism and natural disasters claim the lives of hundreds of our
fellow countrymenis what I had asked. I am just repeating the question. The
only difference is that today the nation feels it is time to answer the
questions ourselves. The same way the people of Mumbai showed during the last
floods that they cannot depend on the government, it is time for us to ask what
we can dorather than asking what the government can do. The governments have
let us down again and again.
I am hopeful. The IT industry in Bangalore has reacted with asking for
licenses for guns in their campuses. That is an emotional reaction and a
short-term measure, not to say that it would not be effective. I am all for it.
My point is: we need to get at the problem, at a much deeper level.
If IT has indeed been our passport to emerging super-powerdom (though no one
would claim that with a straight face for some time), cannot we do something
about this national problem: terrorism? As one security expert from Israel said
in a television interview, If India does not solve it, no one else can do
anything about it. Harsh but true.
I just want to take a step further. Should weas the IT sectornot contribute
more directly? As the Mumbai attacks have showed, it was a clear failure of
maritime intelligence, which a little technology can easily tackle. Security at
the public places: the only way to do that without interrupting normal lives is
by using technology to pre-empt such strikes.
I agree, like most Indians, I am being a little emotional in my reaction. The
government still has a role to play. But why cannot we initiate action and make
the government follow?
Yes, lives of our own employees are important and we should directly and
quickly do something about it, as the demand for guns by Bangalore IT executives
shows. But cannot we go to the government with a solution?
Cannot the IT community come forward with some proposal like contributing
directly to creation of a more elite, tech-equipped security force? The NSG
could do well with more people and better technology. The private sector, led by
IT, could well contribute directly toward creation of a better force. Sure, we
all pay taxes for all that. But this is the time of a national emergency and we
need to do more than that.
However, this will not achieve the desired results if there is no
accountability from the government. Any contribution to the government system
should be coupled with a direct audit by a panel comprising of eminent citizens
including from business, judiciary and other public services. For long, we have
been denied many things in the name of security. Now, when that fails miserably,
we the people must take over.
Many of our business leadersincluding from the IT industryare ones that the
people of this country look upon with a lot more trust and respect. I am sure
the citizens will be supporting any initiative to bring accountability to the
system. But for that we must start with proactive measures from our side.