Tuesday, June 11, 2013

India’s CMS, A synonym for USA’s PRISM

PRISM is the US’s National Security Agency’s program that carries out widespread and in-depth surveillance on all live communications and stored information of virtually everyone in the world. A program meant to spy on its citizens, was recently exposed and there have been widespread and anxious reactions from the netizens. 

India has an alternative for PRISM said to be already deployed. The program called CMS or Central Monitoring System was introduced in Parliament in 2012 and was rolled out in April 2013. This system is meant to enable Indian Government to monitor all digital communications (phone, mobile, SMS, MMS, e-Mail, social networking sites, web browsing, etc.) in the country. Manned by IB (Intelligence Bureau), it provides our intelligence agencies including IB, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), NIA (National Investigation Agency), ED (Enforcement Directorate), NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) and CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) a centralized access to our country’s telecom network bypassing the service providers. All of this has been backed by law. Information Technology Act 2000 was amended (in 2008 and 2011) to incorporate these practices. 

Project cost is estimated to be around INR 4 Billion. TREM (Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring) and the C-DoT (Centre for Development of Telematics) have played a key role in designing and putting this system together. 

Surprisingly we have not seen much media coverage about CMS. 

Just like nuclear science, which can be effectively used in medicine for a very useful cause and at the same time can cause devastation through nuclear weapons, CMS too could be a dual edged sword. CMS will provide the much sought after edge in fighting terrorism, other insurgencies and many anti-social activities. On the other hand it might lead to netizens loosing their digital freedom. 

I am of the opinion that this is a much needed support system for our intelligence agencies. None of my activities are such which I would hesitate to disclose if I have to. And for sure most of our fellow netizens falls in my category. Security of our data is probably the only thing that might be a matter of concern for people like me, but then our banks, mobile service providers and other providers who has access to our personal data are equally vulnerable. 

I would give full credit to our Government for taking a master stride in digital surveillance, a step which possibly would help common citizens like me to feel more secure in the era where terrorism continues to leave a very dirty scar on our mind.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is there an ‘Electricity Meter Scam’ In Rural Areas Of Bihar?

Nitish’s government has taken Bihar on the growth track. At least people’s perception and statistics says so. But despite his 2nd tenure, which is coming to an end, some key facilities that every individual needs today seem to be a distant dream for people in many rural and sub-urban areas of Bihar. Electricity is one of these facilities that still evade the mass. Many areas struggle to get even 4-8 hours of electricity supply in a day while many are happy to get a supply for 12 hours.

Poor electricity supply in the rural areas is hindering agricultural growth, a key industry of Bihar. Due to poor electricity supply, farmers are affected since:
  • Automation in agriculture seems impossible
  • Programs telecasted for benefit of farmers is inaccessible to them

…And we are talking about development. New industries are yet to take-off. The much hyped initiative to restart sugarcane factories during the initial years of Nitish’s first tenure are nowhere to be seen. I would talk about that sometime later. Let me get back to my main topic for this blog – ‘Electricity and the possible scam around it’.

Few months back there were no electricity meters in rural areas of northern Bihar, region called as Mithilanchal to be specific (I will be restricting myself to this region since I have precise information from this area only. This discussion might be relevant and true for other areas as well). Then, there was a rush to install electricity meters. People were given the meters (They were asked to sign the receipt challan). Thereafter, for past couple of months they have been getting electricity bills where they are paying monthly rental charge for the electricity meter along with the billing based on consumption. Sounds great…a great initiative…then where is the problem???

Interestingly, these meters were never installed. Till date these meters are lying in one corner of every household. But people are charged for it. Company that was given the contract to install the meters never did it. Is it a case where the payment to them has been made without even confirming the implementation on ground? Who are the people behind that company? Is Nitish’s team involved in this potential scam?

Media has never bothered to cover this. This would not possibly make selling news item or increase TRP for them like IPL spot fixing or some other petty news can.

I am of the firm opinion that it can never be possible that a scam of such a magnitude can evade Government and hence Nitish’s or his teams eyes.

I hope this blog has an impact (what-so-ever) to help poor farmers and villagers of Mithilanchal.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Should Betting Be Legalized In India?

With IPL6 spot fixing scandal and likes of Sreesanth and couple of other cricketers already in police custody; IPL franchisee owners like Raj Kundra (Rajasthan Royals) and Gurunath Meiyappan (Chennai Super Kings) been involved in the betting; Bookies from states across India arrested, the ghost of betting in cricket and involvement of big names in betting has again haunted the sports world. Cricket fans have again started wondering if the match they are watching already fixed. 

Spot fixing or betting or gambling is not restricted only to cricket but extends to other sports as well. What differs is only the magnitude. Only betting on horse racing is legal in India. The betting or gambling racket is completely underground. Thus, exact size of the market is not known. But, Indian betting industry or gambling market is estimated to be worth over USD 70 Billion a year. 

Indian IT industry is worth around USD 100 billion which contributes approximately 7.5% to India’s GDP. Hence, we can estimate the contribution to our GDP that gambling industry can make.  

Many countries have legalized gambling. Then, why should we not legalize it in India? 

I am of the firm opinion that it is not at all possible to stop gambling and it would continue to run as an underground industry. Thus, it makes an absolute practical sense to make it legal and have an authority that controls it. Government can issue licenses to gambling houses and earn annual license fee. Besides, the income from gambling should also be taxable as per the prevalent tax slabs. All of this would help to reduce our fiscal deficit and increase our GDP.

A classic example is Macau where gambling industry generates over 40% of GDP. When it makes such an economical sense then I am not sure what prevents our government from taking a decision towards recognizing and legalizing this industry. 

Is it a case that our politicians and bureaucrats benefits indirectly from the existing illegal betting rackets? Thus, they are worried that their earnings or contributions to their party fund would be affected. May be…May be not…

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I was wondering the impact of Mr. NR Narayan Murthy's (NRN) return to Infosys’s executive fold. Definitely it would be a morale booster for the Infosys employees, especially the old timers. But the question remains - Would he be able to transform Infosys back to the stature of the Golden Era it once belonged to? How soon would he be able to do it?

Every employee would be looking forward for a positive change and expect that it would take their company out of the turmoil the organization is in. They would be expecting that NRN is actively involved in the functioning of Infosys. There would be an initial peak that would drive the positive vibration across the organization. It has to be seen how effectively Infosys's Management would be able to maintain this peak and do not allow it to dip (which could be highly detrimental).

Senior to mid-senior management would be in a state of insecurity. People in the driving or navigation seats are the once who are jointly responsible for Infosys current state. They would be worried what NRN has in store for them.

Infy 3.0 story has not been a success and Infosys the erstwhile leader has turned into a laggard having already lost the no. 2 spot. People management is in most pathetic state. Bench strength and attrition is at all time high. Employees are highly dissatisfied and frustrated; High level of negative energy is flowing through the system. 

Would NRN be able to transform these and other critical issues affecting the Infosys Ecosystem in a short span? I do not believe so. He does not come with a magic wand. He will take time to analyze and prioritize his actions as problems with Infosys are multifold. If changing the employee perception is not on his highest priority he would not be able to plug the dip and the drain Infosys is going through. A major restructuring is required to elevate Infosys to a level where it would again be considered as an industry leader, a trend setter. All of this would take time. Competition is highly aggressive and different from what it was in the years gone by. Thus, the challenges for NRN’s team are going to be mountainous.

Stock market reacted positively to the news of NRN's comeback but this news would not be sufficient enough to maintain or further drive-up the stock value of Infosys. 

I pray the best for Infosys as it has not only been a leader of Indian IT services industry but has been a dream company for any individual from my generation. Unfortunately today I do not see any of those pillars that made Infosys a dream company standing. I wish that NRN would be able to bring that glitter back again.

My Opinion – Its Infosys For NRN

We all got the news that NRN and his son Rohan would work for Infosys at a salary of INR 1 per year. Amazing it seems at the first instance; people say ‘wow what a love the company that he founded that he is working for that meager salary’

On the other hand father and son duo earns a highly significant amount from the dividends of Infosys, an amount that is completely tax free. In 2012 NRN earned INR 9.89 Cr while Rohan INR 33 Cr as dividend from Infosys (source – Economic Times).  They would be easily able to make-up any potential losses due to single digit salary.

To me it seems more of the dynastic ideology, whereby Rohan can be implanted as a future successor in Infosys. There is definitely nothing wrong with it. But it is against the policies that NRN himself was part of while the policies were put in place. The policy whereby there were limitations on the age and family members of Infosys founders has been changed to bring in NRN and his team. With that has been put to rest some of the key reasons that had always put Infosys in a different club for governance.

Do Cite Your Opinion...