News / Asia

India Approves Anti-Terror Database

In this Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 file picture, smoke billows from the landmark Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India after an attack by gunmen
In this Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008 file picture, smoke billows from the landmark Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, India after an attack by gunmen
Kurt Achin

Senior Indian officials have cleared a hurdle for a long-awaited electronic database aimed at tracking and preventing terrorist activity.  Supporters say the National Intelligence Grid will become a crucial weapon in protecting India from attacks like the 2008 terrorist siege on the city of Mumbai.

India's Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its approval "in principle" for the creation of a proposed National Intelligence Grid.

The project, known widely here in India simply as Natgrid, would knit together separate databases into one massive shared resource of information including items like rail and air travel records, tax returns, credit card purchases, and immigration permits.  Eleven of India's security-related agencies would be allowed to access the database to look for suspicious patterns, potentially allowing acts of terror to be prevented.

Ajai Sahni is a counterterrorism expert and the executive director of the South Asia Terrorism Portal in New Delhi.  He says such an umbrella database is badly needed in India.

"You cannot run a modern enforcement system, any kind of a counterterrorism program, without proper communications and databases," he said.  "You have no idea how many people are picked up and released without proper identification.  There is no database to match their profiles with."

While networked databases are considered commonplace in the United States and other countries, India's electronic law-enforcement infrastructure is extremely limited.  Police stations in much of the country keep paper copies of records, but there is no real mechanism for different districts to share key information.

The push for a national intelligence database gained urgency after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008.  Many people in India believe it would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, to plan and execute the attacks so effectively if a national intelligence grid had been in place at the time.

The project has been stalled for months, partially amid discussions aimed at ensuring the Natgrid project does not infringe on personal privacy rights.

Although Monday's approval clears one important hurdle, counterterrorism expert Sahni says India's slow bureaucracy is likely to take a long time to execute the Natgrid project.

"The actual implementation of the project is far, far into the future," he said.  "Unless there is a completely different orientation, they approach this thing on a war footing, I do not see any dramatic transformations in our capabilities."

The Natgrid project is slated to be part of an organization, also yet to be formed, called the National Counterterrorism Center.  The center is to be modeled at least partially on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which coordinates and supervises the work of several other existing government agencies.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More