CBI website remains down because of infighting

Two agencies are quarrelling over whose job it is to fix the problem even as India boasts of being an IT powerhouse

On 3rd December, the Indian media called it a "major embarrassment" that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) website has been hacked by "Pakistani Cyber Army". What could be a bigger embarrassment than the fact that the website is still down and inaccessible nearly 10 days later? In a message on the CBI home page, the "Pakistani" hackers had warned the 'Indian cyber Army" not to attack their websites… well, they needn't have worried. Sources in the know say that the premier investigation agency can do nothing about the embarrassing situation because the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which hosts all government websites and CERT - the bombastically titled Computer Emergency Response Team, are quarreling about whose responsibility it is to set things right.

The government also called some cyber security experts including NASSCOM, but until the turf battles between government agencies are sorted out there is nothing that outside experts can do. "Don't be surprised if the website remains down for another month, if nobody intervenes to resolve the turf war", says one expert sarcastically. This is an outrageous state of affairs in a country that dreams of being an economic superpower and boasts of IT prowess.

Surely someone in the government, such as Minister for Information Technology ought to be held accountable. However, with former minister A Raja making headlines for corruption and the new minister Kapil Sibal fire-fighting to save government's face in the telecom scam, the CBI website is a minor embarrassment that nobody has the time to deal with. But this sort of callousness is alarming in a country that is steadily pushing all citizens to post their Tax information and biometrics online.

It is all very well for the government to appoint IT honcho Nandan Nilekani to head the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) but there is no will to ensure security. PTI had reported on 3rd December that, "Intelligence agencies have been often warning the government that proper cyber security was not being ensured in government offices and that no security audit was being carried out". It also reported the Pakistani hackers referring to "the filtering controls provided by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), a body which mans computer servers across the country.
Vickram Crisna, an IT expert says, "It is astonishing that bureaucrats will quarrel over turf when the country's reputation is at stake, and that even for a relatively trivial or non-critical (bannerware) showcase site. No wait, that's the normal response". The question is, if this is the situation with CBI website, what will happens to the rest of us, especially after Mr Nilekani "finishes" his UID job and moves on?

In connection with the security of other databases, including the UID project, Crisna says, "The point about UID is, if this is typically how government machinery works today, it is not surprising at all that beneficial services sought to be provided by the government either leak copiously or utterly fail to achieve their objectives due to systemic design faults that never get corrected or even seriously reviewed. And certainly do not invite public participation to resolve. Perhaps if this were tried, and inefficiency was properly accounted and corrected via suitably designed feedback channels, such instances would be minimized".

The biggest irony is that if you search the internet, there will be endless seminars, workshops and presentations by the very same organizations preaching multi-stakeholder coordination and capacity building on an international level to ensure cyber security. But on the group, national interest will always be compromised in the in-fighting and ego battles between government agencies.




7 years ago

The current situation requires a man in full control of administration. But sad to say, the citizens of our country are totally in the dark about our PM's dynamism. Whether it was the CWG scam, the Adarsh scam or the 2G scam, the govt. acted only after a lot of pressure. The PM has been totally silent even during times of crisis. A PM should know how to lead instead of merely disposing files.


7 years ago

It is not just infighting. It is more like selling the baby along with the bathwater - UIDAI is already compromising things by getting transaction management done by TSYS (Total Systems) which bought Infonox - and controlled largely by Pakistani interests as well as others not exactly friendly towards India.

Take a look also at the recent providing of Blackberries to all staff at the IRS - who is controlling the information flowing so openly through a system which our own government can not decipher?

Online submission of information is a big threat to national security and interests. Welcome to the New East India Companies.

Bhupen Dalal’s family buys back flat in auction paying huge premium

The Dalal family agreed to pay Rs12.6 crore in an auction for their own flat at Chitrakoot building on Altamount Road, in south Mumbai, against market value of about Rs9 crore

Rekha Dalal, wife of stock broker and co-accused in the 1992 securities scam Bhupen Dalal, and their daughter-in-law Veena Dalal, have repurchased their own flat in an auction, by paying a huge premium in order to retain it for the family. The flat was put up for sale by the custodian, under the orders from the Special Court.

"The winners (Rekha Dalal and Veena Dalal) outbid other bidders by quoting a price of Rs12.6 crore. They will have to pay the rest of the money, excluding an earnest deposit of Rs20 lakh, within 45 days," said AK Toprani, director, office of the custodian.

According to market sources, the Dalal family was very keen to buy back the posh flat in the upscale Altamount Road area in south Mumbai, which is why they ended up paying a huge premium over the current market price. As per the current market price in the area (the rate is over Rs30,000 per sq ft) the flat would have cost around Rs9 crore.

Earlier in September, the Special Court allowed Bhupen Dalal's flat in Chitrakoot building to be auctioned to recover income-tax dues running into crores of rupees. Last year, a division bench of the Bombay High Court had stayed an order of the Income-Tax (I-T) department demanding that Mr Dalal pay dues of around Rs1,157 crore for the assessment years 1992 to 1994.

According to a PTI report, Mr Dalal argued before the Special Court that the notice of the I-T department was challenged before the Commissioner of Appeals (I-T). A petition had also been filed in the High Court, which had stayed the notice. Since the notice was stayed, the auction of his flat should also be stayed, his counsel Milind Sathe had argued.

I-T counsel Beni Chatterjee contended that the Commissioner of Appeals was slated to decide Bhupen Dalal's appeal on 31st December against the I-T notice on tax dues. However, there was no need to stay the auction. Justice DK Deshmukh of the Bombay High Court then rejected a petition filed by the stock broker seeking a stay on the auction of his flat in Chitrakoot building.


Capital flows likely to exceed $50 billion in current fiscal

New Delhi: The finance ministry today indicated it will not intervene in the foreign exchange market even if capital inflows into the country touch $50 billion during the 2010-11 fiscal, reports PTI.

“$50 billion could have around that. Inflows will continue according to me,” Thomas Matthew, joint secretary in ministry of finance, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on corporate governance.

Matthew said in reply to a query on whether the capital inflows could exceed $50 billion in the current fiscal as in the previous financial year. Foreign Inflows during the April-September period stood at $37.4 billion.

On the possibility of government or the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) intervening in the market to check surge in capital flows, Matthew said, “The finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee) has already said there is no need to interfere in the market.”

The surge in capital flows, according to the Mid-Year Analysis prepared by the finance ministry, is fuelling stock markets and putting pressure on rupee.

“The main implication of such large capital flows to India has been buoyancy in stock markets and appreciation of rupee vis-à-vis dollar,” it had said.

The capital flows have remained volatile in the past couple of years. It went up to $108 billion in 2007-08 before nose-diving to a mere $8 billion in 2008-09, mainly on account of the global financial meltdown.

The inflows, however, picked up during 2009-10 rising to $53.6 billion.


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