A silent revolution is going on in India’s noisy democracy

India is leapfrogging into future, ahead of advanced economies. It has been charting a unique course. It opted for democracy and universal franchise. It missed the manufacturing bus but it took the services flight. It ushered the green revolution and milk revolution. It started with a government dominated economy and switched a market economy. It has now taken up unfinished work in manufacturing and agriculture. It has followed a bewilderingly zigzag course.  It is becoming increasingly clear that India is getting its act together under the leadership of PM Modi and his government.

India’s Aadhar has entered record books as the world’s largest identity database. ISRO’ satellite launching capabilities have attracted commercial inquiries from some countries. Our UPI (United Payment Interface) technology is being patented. The world sees India as an island of growth and a responsible global citizen. But much more is happening.

A silent revolution is going on in India’s noisy democracy. So silent that it easy to miss it amid our politics of protests.

India’s capacity to transform itself is getting better.

It is well known that PM Modi is a big advocate of technology. But we need to take time to understand the scope of what is going on.  No other big society or civilization is absorbing technology in so many fundamental ways. It is so pervasive that it is not merely about technology anymore.

Indian State is modernizing. India’s leaders are driving changes from top. That’s not all. Indians are changing their ideas about themselves. Technology is coming to aid of our democracy.

By leaps and bounds

People have got used to convenience and speed of online shopping, online ticketing and internet banking. Gone are the days of cheques lost in transit and physical share certificates not getting transferred due to mismatch of signatures. Certificates of birth, education and documents like vehicle registration, driving license, and passport will soon exist only in online form via the Digilocker. When fingerprint and IRIS scanners become ubiquitous through smart phones and terminals, signatures and paper copies of identity cards etc will be replaced by Aadhar based authentication.  Already, a payment bank and a telecom operator have launched their e-KYC based on Aadhar. No Indian will be excluded from this convenience since almost everyone has Aadhar identity.

 

A unique 12-digit code assures every Indian that what is meant for her will reach her and no one else can impersonate her. When voter cards get linked to Aadhar and when Voting machines get equipped with scanners bogus voting will be gone.

This may take time but people, who by now have good sense of what technology can do, will start demanding the above. They will no longer be content in receiving subsidy benefits in their MUDRA or other bank accounts.  They will want all that is possible.

Today shipment of a parcel by courier or even a passport being issued can be tracked online. The Supreme Court has directed all states to upload FIRs (First Information Reports) within stipulated time limits. When FIRs are online, people will surely demand to know progress on them. Tomorrow, when they file a police complaint they will want to track its handling by police on their phones.

Similar changes and demands for quicker and quality services meant for personal businesses and small, medium, and large enterprises will be there. Quicker registration, transparent approvals, consolidated returns and their processing will be demanded by businesses. Internet banking and credit and debit cards will be supplemented by UPI (United Payment Interface) for person to person transfer of money which will be of great help to personal businesses who can’t afford payment gateways for cost and procedural reasons.

The UPI adds the last mile convenience to MUDRA and other types of bank accounts seeded with Aadhar for paying and receiving payments and for obtaining or repaying loans.  Imagine craftsmen and artisans who don’t have credit card terminals or payment gateways selling their wares online (thru e-commerce platforms) or offline and getting paid instantly through the UPI. Imagine farmers selling their produce via the National Agriculture Market and getting paid via their UPI accounts. Imagine budding authors and artists selling their works and getting paid via UPI.

The GST (Goods and Services Tax) implementation has begun. GST will run on its network called the GSTN. The GSTN will be a super database that captures all business transactions involving goods and services provided from one corner of county to the other. GSTN will help to bring convenience to tax payer businesses and individuals and also to the tax collectors. Furthermore, GSTN’s Big Data that captures Indian economy in almost real time can be leveraged for policy making and spotting specific interventions needed. The possibilities of what can be done are huge.

Digitization of land records based on GIS (Geographical Information System) mapping is going on. If this is integrated with authenticated property ownership databases of local and state governments, a revolution similar to Aadhar can be brought to property and land transactions. This will enable genuine and faster real estate transactions, reduction in black money generation, and reduction in litigation.

India is moving from data deficient state to data rich state.

The ‘data riches’ of India and demands by people will create new business opportunities in private and government sector.  These will range from personal services to non-intrusive detection of tax evasion and other illegal activities through data analytics as needed by the governments.

Digital Infrastructure

All these services will ride on India’s vast mobile and fixed line network that is getting upgraded to 4G and the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN). The NOFN plans to bring internet broadband to 600,000 village gram panchayats. Though this program is much behind schedule, there is no doubt that Modi Government will revisit the program’s technology strategy for speedy implementation.

India’s own GPS (Global Positioning System)  called GAGAN (GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) has been launched. It will provide high precision information of latitude, longitude, altitude, velocity and time of vehicles or devices equipped with GPS receivers. This will bring all round improvement in navigation and tracking on land, in air, and on seas. For example, it is expected to significantly reduce the time interval that must be kept between successive takeoff or landing of aircrafts. This will have direct impact of airports’ capacity to handle traffic.

Under the National Supercomputing Mission a supercomputing grid of over 70 high performance facilties will power research in academic and R & D for solving multi-disciplinary problems using tools like Artificial Intelligence and big data analytics.

Citizens will demand better services and better laws because they now know it is possible

As citizens’ taste power of information and technology, their demands will cover bigger and bigger circles of public services like town planning and land use, construction permits, roads, sanitation, providing birth and death certificates, law and order services and many other services provided by local, state, and central governments. Many of these services are already provided online but citizens will demand speed and quality because they know it is possible.

Authentication (of people, entities, and properties) and capturing transactions and movements will result in better surveillance and prevention of crime. It will also help in faster investigation and better prosecution and conviction rates. Law enforcement will receive a big boost.

Today India has abundance of laws and a huge deficit of their implementation. This will change. As laws start getting implemented their flaws will come to surface and citizens will demand better laws.

If you listen in on social media you will find that our Judiciary is being criticized for what are seen as its opaque, feudal, whimsical, quixotic and glacial ways.  Demand for fairness and speed will create public pressure on our courts too.  In future, we should be to able track repeated postponements of court hearings. We should be able to see if courts follow their own norms. We should be able to have ‘distance trials’ of at least of civil suits and avoid repeated visits to courts. We should see judges using modern tools of searching legal databases and coming to quicker and fairer judgments. We should see much more from our courts.

Modi Government is driving sweeping changes top down. It is showing a glimpse of what is possible. The possibilities are enormous and Indians want it all.  They will demand more and more. For this, they will have to participate more.

 

Challenges

India is now on a different course. The inevitable missteps and hurdles will have to be overcome. There will be concerns about privacy and data thefts. These will have to addressed. India’s enemies may resort to  cyber warfare (read https://www.myind.net/scorpene-leaks-hurt-india-india-ready-cyberwar ). India’s digital economy will have to be made resilient to cyber attacks.  We will need technical, managerial, leadership pools of high caliber.

Technology can be a binding force or it can unleash breakaway forces. Therefore we need a strong cultural firmament and modern practices based on our Dharmic principles to hold this all together.

All such challenges will have to be overcome.

Yet, it is evident that India is leapfrogging ahead of advanced economies through pervasive use of technology in governance and public services. Indians are switching from being beggars of State to being participative and being demanding citizens.  This is a massive change. The world hasn’t seen anything like it.

(This article was first published by myind.net here: https://www.myind.net/silent-revolution-going-indias-noisy-democracy#.dpuf  Image source: myind.net )

The Scorpene leaks: Is India ready for cyber war?

The  massive leaks of ‘signature data’ of six Scorpene submarines’ to be supplied to Indian Navy by DCNS, a company two thirds owned by the French Government, has rocked our defense establishment. The news of the data leak was published by ‘The Australian’.

Submarines are vital parts of any modern navy because of their ability to sneak underwater and strike. Stealth capabilities are essential for a submarine’s sneak and surprise attacks. When a submarine moves it emits engine and propeller noise, creates acoustic waves underwater, and emit infra read (heat) and other electromagnetic radiation.  Every submarine has characteristics patterns of the above signals. A submarine’s presence, location, and movement can be determined if its ‘signatures’ are known.

If ‘signatures’ of the Scorpenes meant for Indian Navy have fallen in enemy hands, their stealth capabilities are practically nullified.

‘The Australian’ reported (source ) that

“The leaked DCNS data details the secret stealth capabilities of the six new Indian submarines, including what frequencies they gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance – all sensitive information that is highly classified. The data tells the submarine crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid ­detection by the enemy. It also discloses magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as the specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system.”

Ascertaining the truth

The veracity of the leaked data is being ascertained, but the fact is that not just India, but Australia, Malaysia, Chile, and Russia are worried about the leaks of sensitive information related to their defense purchases from DCNS which are part of the leaked data.

It is quite likely that the India-bound Scorpene submarines’ stealth capabilities are severely compromised as per these posts in The Quint , Quartz  and Livefist Defense

On the other hand, Vice Admiral (Retired) Arun Kumar Singh says the leaked information would be commercial in nature and that INS Kalvari’s (one of the Scorpenes) noise ranging trials -which help pinpoint its audio fingerprint or signature -hasn’t been done yet. So according to Vice Admiral Arun Kumar Singh there is little possibility our Scorpene ‘signatures or ‘fingerprints’ falling into wrong hands.  (Source )

India’s Defense Ministry and Indian Navy’s experts will assess the extent of damage to Indian Navy’s preparedness levels over next a couple of decades and will decide what all needs to be done to contain it.

In the worst case scenario, Indian Navy faces a setback of a decade of efforts.

Was it a data theft or a hack?

‘The Australian’ further reports that the Scorpene data was ‘written’ in France for India in 2011 and was possibly removed from France by a former French Navy officer, a DCNS subcontractor. The data then was taken to a company to in Southeast Asia for a regional Navy. It was passed a third party to another company in the region before being sent on a data disk by regular mail.

From the above it appears that it was a data ‘theft’ by an insider and not a ‘hack’ as stated by Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar: “The Navy Chief has been asked to analyze as to what exactly has been leaked,” Parrikar told reporters today. “This came to my knowledge at 12 midnight. It looks like a case of hacking,” Parrikar said, adding that the, “first step is to identify if it is related to us.” (Source )

There is a critical difference between a theft and a hack. In modern digital world, a hack doesn’t need any physical access to a factory or a dockyard, design and engineering office, or a laboratory. Hackers can breach target computer systems from anywhere in the world and not just access data but they also trigger mala fide operations.

India’s preparedness for cyber warfare

Countries like China are developing massive cyberwar capabilities like espionage, intellectual property thefts, and decapacitating enemy operations.  For example, M. K. Narayanan, India’s then National Security Adviser, said his office and other government departments were targeted on December 15, (2010) the same date that US companies reported cyber attacks from China. (Source )

The successive Congress governments have undermined India’s defense preparedness in not just conventional military warfare but it also in cyber warfare.

If Scorpene data theft can cause so much damage, the consequences of cyber warfare can only be apocalyptic.  

Not much information on India’s cyber war readiness is available. One hopes that India’s defense preparedness plans include strong cyber warfare capabilities.

 

This article written by me was first published by myind.net here https://www.myind.net/scorpene-leaks-hurt-india-india-ready-cyberwar#.dpuf

The only political solution in Kashmir

What troubles NC, Congress, and Communists is the loss of power. This is their problem all over India. In J & K, they get active support from Pakistan. There lies the rub.

(This article written by me was first published on myind.net here on August 25, 2016 )

Our security forces continue their grim battles against Pakistan supported separatist stone throwers in some parts of Kashmir. They aren’t just battling the violent mobs. They are battling our politicians from Congress, NC and other parties whose main concern seems to be the use of pellet guns. These politicians are unmoved by large number of deaths of our security men.

Senior politicians like Omar Abdullah have no answer to the question how should security forces deal with stone throwing mobs -they don’t want guns, they don’t want pellet guns. They seem to say -do away with security forces, except of course their personal security cover.

Ever since the all party meeting on Kashmir, the air is thick with the talk of political solution to Kashmir. Omar Abdullah wants it. The Kashmir Congress Chief G A Mir wants it. CPM also wants it.

Even the venerable Supreme Court has advised a ‘political solution’.

But what is the political solution to the Kashmir issue?

No one has suggested any formulation of a potential political solution. And since our main stream media don’t ask tough questions to anyone who is opposed to Modi Government, we can only guess what they mean by a political solution.

 

To the above opposition parties: A ‘political solution’ might mean any combination of the following:

1. Remove army. Let police handle local law and order. It is easier to browbeat police to let terrorists and criminals escape.

2. No pellet guns. No normal guns. Use lathis to deflect stones being hurled at you. AK 47’s and bombs are the prerogative of the terrorists only.

3. Kashmir has autonomy under Art 370. That is not enough. Let it secede from India. But Indian State must fund expenses of Kashmir’s ruling dynasties and their fellow politicians.

4. Development promised by Modi and PDP-BJP governments is not what Kashmir people want. They don’t care about education, jobs, and infrastructure. Their main concern is what will happen to their beloved politicians and separatist leaders. Pakistan and China are better for their human rights.

5. Until the above “Dream State” is achieved, ask Mehbooba to resign. Send BJP packing.  Give us the power in Kashmir.

It is interesting to know that the lone voice against this chorus of ‘political solution’ comes from the democratically elected Chief Minister of J & K, Mehbooba Mufti. She said,

“Kashmiris are not stone-pelters: 95% people are innocent but suffer due to selfish 5%” (source ) she then appealed to the center to take care of the 95% who love peace and harmony.

It is good that the PDP’s partner BJP is letting Mehbooba do the talking.

There lies the rub. What troubles NC, Congress, and Communists is the loss of power. This is their problem all over India. In J & K, they get active support from Pakistan.

They can’t countenance a democratically elected government cooperating with center for development and for eliminating terrorists like Burhan Wani.  Their masters won’t allow it.

What does one make of PM Modi receiving a memorandum from Abdullah and others? He said, ” All political parties should come together to find a solution” (source ) He has also said that ‘doors are open for dialogue…and for solution within the framework of the Constitution”

Now any solution must be via the State Government of J & K as per the constitution. The PM seems to be telling “let’s talk (you talk) but I am going to go by the Constitution. So should you. Let a democratically elected State Government do its job. Go back to your barracks”

In the meanwhile, note that the CPRF has submitted to J&K HC that alterative to pellet guns will be worse (real guns) ”

“Pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted weapon of riot control,” it said, “In case this [pellet shotgun] is withdrawn, the CRPF would have no recourse in extreme situations but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities.”  (source)

 

The Center and the State Governments have a lot to do -arrest the spiral of violence, let law rule and to strengthen security operations substantially for prevention, detection, and elimination of trouble makers. As the PM himself told the J & K delegation, “development alone can’t solve all problems” (Read https://www.myind.net/burhan-wani-and-chinks-indias-armor-police-judiciary-and-media )

The Center and the State Governments also need to send a convincing message that no power can cause any further partition of India and that the might of Indian people and State will come down heavily on those who support such antinational activities or indulge in them.

For now, let Abdullah and his co-delegates be happy that the PM gave them 75 minutes, received their memorandum, and that he did not mention stone pelting unlike what FM Arun Jaitley did.

The only ‘political solution’ to Kashmir issue is to let the respective governments, which have been formed through political processes of elections, do their jobs.

– See more at: https://www.myind.net/national-conference-and-congress-are-not-able-cope-loss-power-kashmir#.dpuf

Pakistan: Has the endgame begun?

There are signs that the convergence of foreign interests, which propped up Pakistan so far, is ending.

 

(This article written by me was first published by myind.net here )

PM Modi’s speech during the All Party Meeting on Kashmir violence asserting that Pakistan is behind the violence in the valley, that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) belongs to India and that Pakistan must end atrocities in Baluchistan is as categorical as it gets as far as India’s position is concerned. Pakistan has been given a long rope by India.

Another expression of growing anger with Pakistan for its destructive role, is Maj Gen Bakshi, a private citizen, who said: ‘In our generation, we split Pakistan into 2. Your generation should split it into 4. Only then we can live in peace!’ (source)

Pakistan will find itself in greater and greater trouble at home and internationally, if it doesn’t mend its ways. Pakistan is an Unnatural State. It was created by Britain’s need for a strategic foothold in the Indian subcontinent, greed and haste of Congress leaders, Jinnah’s animosity towards them, and hatred of some misguided Muslims for their own Hindu ancestors’ land and religion. It has no culture of its own. Its provinces like Sind, Punjab, East Bengal which was once part of it and is now Bangladesh, and illegally occupied Kashmir (which is part of India) share their languages, cuisine, and customs with respective Indian regions. These provinces have a pan Indian culture. Afghanistan and Baluchistan have been part of this culture for ages.

 Creation of Bangladesh and constant strife among Shia and Sunni sects of Islam on its soil have exposed the falseness of Pakistan’s Islamic identity. Pakistan’s so called Islamic identity never had any legitimacy. Pakistan’s Generals and power hungry politicians foist a borrowed Islam based on Wahabi and Salafi and other extremist versions of Islam originating from some Arab countries. Their Mullahs and Maulvis are of great help in this graft of culture because it gives them more power. Pakistanis’ love of music, food, drink, and poetry (Shayri) is similar to Indians. Normal Pakistani’s are ill at ease with the borrowed Islam.

Pakistani rulers’ hatred of India and Hindu religion gets exploited by various terror groups. These groups get backing of the State. US and Western countries have funded Pakistan and terror networks to serve their own needs -Oil, check on Russia and keeping India down. China too finds Pakistan handy for its geo-political ambitions and commerce. Most of the aid that Pakistan gets goes in arms purchase and supporting terrorists for use against India and killing some of its own people.

A State which serves only foreigners’ interests and the State which has nothing for its own people, is inherently illegitimate. This State carries out genocide of its Hindu minority and commits atrocities in Baluchistan and Sind. Such a Pakistan is propped up by a faux-war-on-terror funded by the USA and West. In reality, it is an ongoing war against India.

Pakistan is not just a rogue state, but is a state which at risk due to its own internal contradictions of supporting terror and fighting terror and contradictions of taking pride in being a Muslim State and killing its own Muslims. Its people are suffering.

The world has stopped short of calling Pakistan a rogue State, but dossiers on Pakistan’s support to terror are getting thicker in Washington and Western Capitals. (Watch, for example: US House Foreign Affairs Joint Subcommittee hearing on Pakistan  )  US Congress has blocked supplies of F-16 fighter planes under aid program to Pakistan. Even Obama administration is asking Pakistan to walk its talk on terror. But terror continues to strike in Pakistan while terrorists like Hafeez Saeed roam free there.

When interests of World Powers and those of Islamic terrorists start diverging Pakistan’s props will collapse. This process has already started. Under fire from their own citizens, USA and Western governments will increasingly look to combat terror on war footing and take down every things that help it.  Irrespective of who becomes US President next, Trump’s campaign has made it difficult for American administration to willfully ignore terror or support it. (Read )

Nuclear Pakistan, in which there is no single authority and accountability and in which terror outfits do what they please, is a dangerous ally.

Contrast this with India under Narendra Modi. It is a stable democratic country with a strong economy, a powerful military, and a mature development focused government. India with its over eight thousand years old civilization, having foundations of universal peace and prosperity,  provides exceptional stability to the region. India is now ready to play its global role.

India’s unique importance will not be missed by America that is busy rebuilding its own house, by Europe that is grappling with its problems following Brexit, or by UK which has to find good trading partners, and by world as a whole facing the onslaught of Islamic terror.

PM Modi’ strategic maneuvers with Vietnam have made China come calling for support for its South China Sea stance. This comes after it blocked India’s bid for NSG membership and India’s demand for declaring Hafeez Saeed a wanted terrorist. China will surely have to weigh its Pakistan commitments.

Russia already has good relations with India and is looking to build its partnership further.

There are signs that the convergence of foreign interests, which propped up Pakistan so far, is ending. Pakistan has to find an identity to exist as a nation that is consistent with its people’s welfare and culture. Without these, it has an extremely unstable existence and an uncertain future. We don’t know if enough number of Pakistanis realize what is at stake -it is not Kashmir or India because there is no way a resurgent India will allow what Pakistan wants -is much bigger and much more important for their own well being.

Given the above picture, it is quite likely that in Delhi and in World Capitals, Pakistan’s endgame is being discussed -securing its nuclear arsenal must be the most important goal of this endgame. India has a huge stake in Pakistan -whether united or its remnants.

It remains to be seen how India deals the developing situation: as an opportunity to solve the Pakistan problem or to make it worse for itself. We hope that the Narendra Modi Government will do the right thing.

 

– See more at: https://www.myind.net/pakistan-has-endgame-begun#.dpuf