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Issue No.: 574 | April 2015
 

Sensitive Documents

Ashok Karnik
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...leakage of Petroleum Ministry documents to Corporate Houses...more could be wrong
POINT

Recent revelations about leakage of Petroleum Ministry documents to Corporate Houses in the Energy Industry proved our suspicion that commercial houses would spare no effort, legal or illegal, to obtain privileged information to make a fast buck. The exposé initiated by the National Security Advisor through the Intelligence Bureau to get to the root of the mischief is welcome. How far the malaise has affected the higher bureaucracy and the corporate world is to be seen. It cannot be the handiwork of minions and a few executives arrested so far. The honchos of private companies are now feeling the heat of police interrogation; the bigger fish among the bureaucracy must be spending sleepless nights waiting for the axe to fall. The problem is how to prevent the theft of vital information. All Ministries have their own security units but these are mainly watch and ward functionaries who ensure that there are no property thefts and pilferages; information is hardly considered a valuable asset in most offices. Sensitive Ministries like Defence, Home, External Affairs and Finance are covered more effectively and the IB keeps a watchful eye on possible mischief but other Ministries are hardly considered potential targets. The thinking has to change now as commercial interests play havoc with the integrity of our systems. What is detected might just be the tip of the iceberg.   
COUNTER POINT

Present incidents are a warning that much more could be wrong. This time the culprits may be caught and possibly punished but the disease would remain un-eradicated. Those spying for other countries have been caught in the past but that did not stop others from falling to the same temptation of money, honey and wine. When the one who subverts is from within the country, problems multiply. The treachery initiated by our own business houses is more subtle as the erring official does not think he is betraying his country. He is merely passing on some papers to an Indian business house. The culprit is not aware enough to understand that the rot would ultimately affect his country, its economy and defence preparations. We have failed to make all Government employees understand that their position in a Government office makes them privy to some information that can be used by outsiders to harm the country directly or indirectly. A Government employee’s position puts him in a position of trust, be he a peon, a clerk or an officer. He could be targeted by somebody some day; he should inform his superiors if any suspicious approach is made to him. The initial briefing on joining service should cover this area. Security has to be built into the system as IB cannot cover every office. It is time to wake up!
Every issue has at least two sides. A wise person examines all sides before coming to a conclusion. This is an attempt to present various sides of an issue so that a considered opinion can be formed.

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