Let me compare two recent incidents. In Hyderabad, a person was swiftly arrested when he was trying to sell proprietary data of a real estate website. He has sent out SMSs to all the customers of MagicBricks.com, offering to sell property leads on the sly. Alternately, he was also offering a software that will let customers download all of MagicBricks critical data. Obviously, mass SMSs are not the best tool to sell stolen property. Hyderabad cyber crime sleuths swung into action and the crook was soon nabbed.
I am sure that Hyderabad news will be music for the ears of the Indian IT industry and corporate users. It was not very long ago when one heard stories where policemen sew together ﬂ oppy discs they had conﬁ scated as evidence in some crime. Clearly, Indian police is catching up in terms of cyber crime awareness and taking swift action. Hopefully, as India becomes big as a knowledge economy and a knowledge nation, intelligence and police infrastructure that is IT savvy will be a big help. I remember, when my laptop was stolen from my parked car, the Guragon police refused to register an FIR. I am sure that an IT sensitized police inspector will now understand the criticality of a laptop.
The other story is about the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai, which shows how the bigwigs — chief ministers, chief of Indian Army and Navy, top bureaucrats-are not even touched when there is so much preliminary proof to nail them. This multi-crore scam throws up three big questions. First, are the bigwigs in India above the law? Second, how safe is the security of India in the hands of these greedy people? And, last but not the least, the third question is, how competent is the intelligence and police system in India. At a time when security, intelligence, and police systems are going to play an even more important role in a country,
While politicians, defense heads, and bureaucrats can try and work out ways to check such frauds, IT deployment will surely play a big role, and at least set up an infrastructure. For instance, I have met several people from document management and workﬂ ow solutions companies, and they tell me that Governments in India today are open to buy computers and printers, but do not even want to talk about document management. Adarsh scam could have been avoided if documents movement (for necessary clearances such as land transfer, environment clearance, change of land use etc) had followed a process.
I strongly believe that IT will be critical in making India an ideal (Adarsh) country. Though police and intelligence modernization plans are in place, and institutions such as Central Vigilance Commission, and Right to Information give opportunities for probing corruption, but these are reactive systems. Some of the big scams where the government has been involved, can be nipped in the bud if there are systems in place. What is needed is re-engineering of government rather than computerization of the government.
IBRAHIM AHMAD/ firstname.lastname@example.org