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Mumbai Terror Attacks Boost Indian Private Security Business

In the wake of the recent terror strikes in India's financial hub, Mumbai, commercial establishments across the country are enhancing security. This is expected to lead to a surge in business for security companies.

The terror strike by armed gunmen in India's business hub, Mumbai, was different from any other that has hit the country so far. The armed gunmen did not plant bombs at public places such as busy markets, rail stations or trains as in the past. Instead they stormed two luxury hotels and a Jewish Center, taking hostages and killing dozens.

Terror strikes leave businesses feeling vulnerable

The strikes have left India's commercial establishments such as offices, factories, shopping malls and hotels feeling more vulnerable - and most are scrambling to upgrade and tighten security systems.

Rajeev Sharma, the head of a Mumbai-based security company, Topsgrup, says most companies are enhancing budgets substantially to plug security loopholes. He says they are installing sophisticated electronic and other surveillance equipment such as metal detectors.

"There are people who actually earlier were not willing to spend the kind of money you need to spend on the right kind of security," Sharma noted. "Now they are willing to relook at the entire security spend, and increase the security spend if required. But they want a foolproof security system installed at all these places."

Hotels step up security

Luxury hotels, which were the target of the Mumbai attacks, are being particularly cautious. Hotels such as Taj Mahal Palace and Oberoi Trident which were attacked, did not have X Ray machines to screen baggage - but this is changing.

Hotel Leela Venture Ltd. runs four luxury resorts in India including one in Mumbai. Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sanjoy Pasricha, says new security systems include sniffer dogs and begin at the entrance to the hotel's driveway.

"Earlier the security would start at entrance of the lobby," Pasricha explained. "Today it starts right at the point a person enters the gates of the hotel or the resort itself. We have posted security guards who are checking thoroughly the baggage that guests bring in as well as physically checking the guests as they come in… All the hotel entrances, there are new metal detectors that have been bought, and there is a second round of search."

The enhanced security has also led to a surge in demand for sophisticated security-related electronic equipment such as metal detectors and closed circuit televisions.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry says private security business in the country, currently worth $5 billion, is expected to double in the next four years.