PM Modi hits the ground running, but focus shifts from NSG to National Intelligence Grid
NEW DELHI:So, what did Prime Minister Narendra Modi do immediately after his return from a five-nation tour? He attended three meetings – none of them on Missile Control Technology Regime (MTCR) or India’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Of the three meetings, two stood out – the ones on National Intelligence Grid (NatGrid) and the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), both major security initiatives under the Union home ministry.
He chaired these two meetings, one after the other immediately at his South Block office early on Friday morning. In fact, he did not even wait for home minister Rajnath Singh, who is out of Delhi.
The NatGrid and CCTNS are crucial to India’s security umbrella. Brainchild of former Union home minister P Chidambaram, the two are envisaged to play a key role in preventing terror attacks, tracking criminals guilty of cognisable offences and arresting financial frauds.
But NatGrid has been virtually remaining headless since the BJP government came to power in June 2014.
Modi, sources said, has tasked National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and other top officials of the security establishment to get the best brain and an expert in security analytics to head NatGrid.
But the Union home ministry has not been able to find a worthy chief executive officer (CEO) to run the ambitious project since June 2014 when it decided not to renew the contract of Raghu Raman, who was heading NatGrid since its inception in 2011.
It has had chiefs as stop-gap arrangements during the last two years. Special secretary (internal security) Ashok Prasad headed it first. After his retirement in February, a joint secretary-level officer is running the show.
Yet, NatGrid is still stuck at what is called the Horizon 1 stage.
At this stage, it is supposed to connect with 21 service providers and 10 user agencies, sources said. In its final stage, called Horizon 4, it is expected to connect with all possible sources having digital human interface – that is close to 2,000 organisations.
A fully functional NatGrid is supposed to enable all 11 security and intelligence agencies like RAW, IB, Enforcement Directorate, National Investigation Agency (NIA), CBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and others to process their queries and get results, in real-time, on virtually any individual, entity or incident.
The meeting also decided to increase the allocation for NatGrid, considering the cost escalation because of time lapse and to attract the best talent.
Similarly, the CCTNS, an ambitious Rs 2,000-crore project to link approximately 15,000 police stations and 6,000 higher offices in the police hierarchy in a seamless manner to track crimes and catch criminals across states and internationally, is still undergoing technical glitches from software providers who are finding it difficult to digitise and upload the huge repository of records in different languages.
The project is also facing roadblocks in some laggard states like Bihar and needs more funds. Already, close to Rs 1,500 crore have been spent and the project cost has escalated.
Sources said the PM decided to designate more funds for both CCTNS and NatGrid, a proposal for which will soon be brought into the cabinet for approval.
Modi’s third meeting was to take a status update on the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which will be held in New Delhi in the first week of November. The meet will be held in collaboration with United Nations for Disaster Risk Reduction.
He wants India to have a leadership role on Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia that should not be second to China.
During the 2014 Nepal earthquake, despite India’s alacrity and the PM’s personal supervision, China had taken the lead in rescue, relief and mitigation work.
Posted by ZI Mark
on June 11, 2016. Filed under Nation
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