Posted in Common Man, Crime, Democracy, Freedom, Government, Hindustan, India, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Police, Politics, Slogging, System, Victim, Violence

MLA’s husband slapped the Circle Inspector in Kota (Rajasthan) – Isn’t the Police Force themselves responsible for such kind of ill-treatment with their officers?

A recent incidence in Kota (Rajasthan) has once again ignited the “Battle of Superiority” between the Politicians and Police force. This incidence took place on dated 20th February 2017, when the workers of the present ruling party in Rajasthan state i.e. Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), went to protest at the Mahaveer Nagar, Police Station, Kota (Rajasthan).

Police version – The Circle Inspector (CI) Mr. Sreeram Badesara, was slapped by Mr. Narendra Meghwal, husband of Mrs. Chandrakanta Meghawal, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Ramganj Mandi. In response to the same, the police have to use batons on the BJP workers in order to control the situation. It is also to be noted here with that a video of slapping the CI Mr. Sreeram Badesara has gone viral in the meantime.

Politician version – The police manhandled the workers of BJP and arrested a few of them. Later, the MLA, Mrs. Chandrakanta Meghawal went to meet the workers at the police station. Mrs. Meghawal stated that she along with her husband and the BJP District Head were first beaten up by the police force in the garden and later in the chamber, as well. Mrs. Chandrakanta claimed that her husband has not been involved in any kind of violence and he only came in between to protect her.

After this violence, FIR has been lodged by both the parties involved. Now the ball is in the court of the responsible authorities to decide that whose version out of the two is correct and who actually was at fault. But it seems as if at present the axe has fallen on the concerned policemen only because five policemen of that police station are sent to the police line. Obviously, the orders of sending these policemen to police line have been issued by the seniors in the same police force.

Now did the senior police officers took this decision in order to conduct an unbiased investigation in the matter concerned or was it a step taken solely out of the political pressure, is something which only the senior officers could answer to. On the contrary, the local police force has come out openly in support of the staff of Mahaveer Nagar, Police Station. Many of the police stations in the city boycotted the Mess and an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) has been reported to have requested for voluntary retirement in protest against this incidence.

Well, there is nothing wrong in supporting an honest person. In fact, we should always stand by the side of truth and, at the same time, protest and raise our voice against all the injustice happening around us. However, the big question is that when a police officer was slapped by the MLA’s husband, the entire police force got united and stood against their colleague, but what would have been their reaction if such an incidence happened with a common man?

Aren’t such incidences happening every now and then with the common men who doesn’t have any support of power, money or influence behind them? Aren’t the innocent victims always being harassed by the dishonest but powerful people? Whose side the “corrupt” police officers are taking in all such cases? Each and every single member of the police force should introspect that what would have been their stand if such an incidence took place between an honest common man and a dishonest powerful person?  Note: The above questions are only for the dishonest policemen. The honest policemen who always perform their duty diligently with utmost honesty should take a bow and keep up the good work.

When the common man pleads in front of the corrupt police officers for justice, don’t they disappoint the victim by taking the side of the powerful person? If yes, then it would not be wrong to say that the Police Force is themselves responsible for such kind of ill-treatment with their officers. It is because of the corrupt policemen that such powerful people get the courage to sit on the head of the entire department and act as if they are the King. It is nothing but the past conduct of the corrupt officials which comes back in the form of such incidences where even the honest officials get ill-treated. So it is for the entire police department to introspect, take learning from such incidences, as well as, take steps to ensure that no such incidence get repeated with the police force in the future.

I would like to end this blog with the very hope that “Truth and Justice should prevail always”. Let us always stand for honesty and justice, even if we have to fight against those who have the backing of money, power or influence. I do wish that there is peace all around and may the Almighty give good sense to each one of us.

God Bless you!

Peyush Jain

Posted in Common Man, Crime, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Police, Security, Slogging, System, Victim, Violence, Woman

Ruchita Jain murder investigation – Was the approach of investigation officers right in this case?

Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to bring down the image of the Police department or entire investigation agencies. The blogger in true spirit respects the hard work that the Police Department is doing. However, the content of this blog should be taken as learning by the concerned officers, department and each one of us, so that mistakes like these are not repeated in future and the very motive of true justice is actually achieved in the real sense.


Last year, on dated 01st December 2016, a young lawyer named Mrs. Ruchita Jain w/o Mr. K. B. Gupta was brutally killed in broad daylight in her residence located at Flat No. 702, Orbit Apartment – 1, New Bhupalpura, Udaipur (Rajasthan). As per the post-mortem report, she was mercilessly stabbed 17 times with a wrench tool, resulting in serious injuries on her head and body. She died on the spot.

The soul shivers even with the thought that how painful the last few minutes of her life would have been. The loss of someone’s life is irrecoverable and it surely would have changed the life of her husband and their two little kids. This case indeed shocked the entire peace-loving community of Udaipur and left everyone thinking that how safe we all are. For a few days, there was an air of fear and suspicion, in and around the city, especially in the locality where this murder took place. Everyone was coming up with their version of the case or some latest updates on it.

All eyes were finally gazed on the Police Department to crack this case and unearth the culprit, as well as, the motive behind such a cruel incidence. The Sukher Police Station, on dated 22nd February 2017 i.e. 82 days after the incidence filed the 141-page charge sheet with the court. Although the police department and the concerned officers are patting their back for solving this so-called “difficult” case, still there are a lot of questions that has emerged from the working style of the Police Department as is evident in those crucial 82 days.

There were a few lapses on the part of the investigating team, which somehow points fingers on the credibility of the entire department and their working style. Below mentioned 6 points reflects the approach of investigation officers in this case –

  1. The superfast local police officers actually boasted to have solved this case on the very second day of the murder itself i.e. on dated 02nd December 2016, the Superintendent of Police (SP) Udaipur, claimed that they have solved the murder mystery and arrested the husband of the victim on charges of killing his own wife. – Without any solid evidence, against any suspect, is it justifiable to defame them in front of the entire world simply because the investigation agencies have some doubts about their involvement? Was the department in so much hurry to grab the praises that they even forgot to collect any single evidence against the husband before accusing him of being the murderer? Is there any possibility that this was intentionally done so that the actual culprit could get away in the present case?
  1. However, after the above claim by the police department of solving the case, on day 3 after the murder, a new angle came into limelight when one of the residences of the same Apartment, Divy Kothari, surrendered at Fatehpura, Police Station, claiming that he has murdered Mrs. Ruchita. Hence, the police have to release Mr. Gupta (husband of the victim) on account of acceptance of crime by the accused Divy Kothari. – After realising that it was a blunder on the part of the police department to charge and publicly announce the victim’s husband as the murderer, wasn’t it their responsibility to not only publicly accept their mistake but also apologize to Mr. Gupta and his family for defaming them?
  1. Further, the prime accused in this case Divy Kothari was also successful in misleading the police officers by acting so brilliantly that the police officers blindly believed on his side of the story that he was suffering from some mental disorder. Once again the investigation team, solely based on the story served to them by Divy Kothari, almost concluded that the accused was suffering from the mental disorder known as ‘Psychosis’ (loss of contact with reality) and in the influence of the same he killed the victim. – Is it believable that once again without any supporting evidence the officers concerned were eager to reach on to conclusions every now and then in the same case? Was it just a mistake on the part of the department to believe the story of the accused as told by him or was it done intentionally again?
  1. After realising that once again they have made a blunder in believing the claims with plain eyes, the police department got into a thorough investigation which resulted into the fact that Divy was just trying to fool the police officers and thereby mislead the investigation. Further, the team collected all the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) evidence “based on the information extracted from the accused”, which resulted in factual proofs to claim Divy as the actual accused in the present case. – Is there any valid reason which such learned officials could provide behind not taking help of the FSL evidence on the very first day of the investigation in a murder case? Is this the normal practice followed by the department to reach on to the conclusion? Isn’t the improper investigation major reason of accused being set free of charge in most of the cases?
  1. Quite surprisingly, even after all these blunders on the part of the department, the Station House Officer (SHO) in charge of the case was reported saying that “It was the toughest and challenging case of his entire life”. (Reference: Report published on dated 23rd February 2017 in Dainik Bhaskar Hindi daily newspaper) – Well, who better than the department people could tell that was this case actually difficult to crack or not? Was it actually a complicated case when the accused himself surrendered in front of the police and accepted that he has murdered Mrs. Ruchita? What was left for the department was to simply collect evidence with the help of the FSL team, based on the information extracted from the accused, isn’t it? Now, was it that difficult to do for such experienced and capable officers of the police force?
  1. Finally, I would like to raise an important point which has been altogether neglected in this case. For your information, a tortoise was found in the house of Mrs. Ruchita Jain and the picture of the tortoise that was clicked by the accused, just before the murder is one of the FSL evidence in the present case. However, there is no mention of the fact that was this tortoise a legal breed that is allowed to be kept as a pet in India or not. If not, then why the officials didn’t lodge any FIR against the responsible person for keeping a tortoise in the house, which under the Wildlife Protection Act is illegal. – Although it is not related to the murder mystery, still it should have been taken care of by the concerned team. In absence of which, we are forced to think that was it sheer negligence on the part of the investigation agencies or were they themselves unaware of the laws prevailing in the country?

At the end, I would like to wish that may the departed soul rest in peace and the culprit gets punished for the offence. I do hope that the investigation agencies work diligently in every case and ensure that none of the culprits is set free just because the investigation done at their end was improper. I would further like to appeal each one of you “To be cautious and be safe” because that is the only way we can reduce the number of such incidences happening around us.

God Bless you all.

Peyush Jain

Posted in Banks, Black Money, CCTV, Common Man, Corruption, Democracy, Financial Institutions, Financial Risk, Frauds, Hindustan, India, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, RBI, Slogging, System, Terrorism, Terrorist, Victim, Whistle Blower

Frauds in Banks Post Demonetisation of High Indian Currency Note – Insight on the grey areas

Banks in India have the image of one of the most regulated institutions, with stringent controls in place. The common man places a lot of trust in the banking system and that is the very reason why the masses feel extremely secured in storing their valuables in the bank lockers and safe. However, the current series of fraudulent events that took place in some of the renowned banks during the period of 50 days, post announcement of demonetisation on the eve of 8th November 2016, shook the entire nation and it further raises doubts about the functioning of financial institutions and their control framework.

Although, it’s a known fact that none of the security systems could be foolproof, but at the same time, what matters is that how quickly an organisation is able to detect the occurrence of any unsolicited event in its system and fix the loopholes “at the origin itself”, before the situation turns into an uncontrollable monster. Now, this is the grey area which I want to highlight in this blog.

Post demonetisation step was taken by the Government of India, a lot many cases of alleged involvement of bank staff in illegal conversion of old notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 have been unearthed by the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate, and the hunt is still going on. Surprisingly, most of these cases which involved a huge sum of money have been detected by the outside agencies namely Income Tax Department/Enforcement Directorate and not by the Bank themselves. This indeed is an alarming situation for any organisation and should be an eye-opener, especially for their Management. It indicates that there are certain areas which demand utmost seriousness and urgency. It’s a high time for the management to investigate into the core reasons which led to such lapses in their respective organisation.

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. What went wrong? What lured the “educated staff” of banks towards getting involved in money laundering cases on such a large-scale? Why banks could not identify the happening of such frauds at the inception stage itself? Above all, the most important question to be asked is that, was it actually possible to curtail such fraudulent events or not? Although, enquiries in all such cases are being conducted by both the bank management, as well as, the external agencies, but any such enquiry would not lead to a conclusive end till a root-cause analysis of such events is done and the learnings are imbibed in the working style of the organisation, in order to, reduce the chances of occurrence of any such events in the future.

Herewith, let me make it very clear that these learnings are not restricted to the financial institutions alone, rather every business house and professional need to take learning’s from such events and thereby take steps to tighten up the controls in their respective organisation in order to minimize the chances of occurrence of such events in future.

Other than the commonly identified reasons like flaws in controls, the absence of proper checking mechanism, malicious intentions of the person’s involved, etcetera there are always some basic reasons or lapses which do not get accounted in the routine investigations. It is interesting to note here that the main reasons/lapses behind happening of any kind of unsolicited events like frauds, accidents, attacks, etcetera are usually very basic in nature, which obviously we tend to ignore in the long run and that eventually results in a bigger loss. Similarly, in the current frauds, there are two major lapses which the financial institutions somewhere ignored or maybe took them too casually, which subsequently resulted in heavy monetary losses, as well as, loss of their brand image. The two major lapses are –

Installation of CCTV Cameras – “Fear of being watched” is the very first step towards curbing the increasing crimes. The graph of crimes falls drastically if people with malicious intentions have a fear that they are being watched. So, any risk prone organisations like financial institutions should be under tight surveillance. Hence, the mechanism like installation of Close-Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV Cameras) in every financial institution (irrespective of the size, location or business it handles) should be the top most priority of its Management, as well as, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Gadgets like CCTV serves as a third eye of the management, by which they can keep a watch on the activities going at the remote places, especially in a war like situations as demonetisation when the flow of cash is too much.

On the contrary, as per the information available on The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) website and The Banking Codes and Standards Board of India (BCSBI) website, it seems as if neither the RBI nor the financial institutions find the installation of CCTV Cameras much effective in comparison to the ‘COST’ involved. The below-mentioned details speak for itself.

As per the RBI Circular RPCD.CO.RRB.BC.No.98/03.05.28/2008-09, dated April 21, 2009, named “Security Arrangement in bank branches – Regional Rural Banks” under the sub-heading Currency Chest Branches it is mentioned that “Modern electronic security gadgets viz. CCTV, alarm system, sensors, electronic locks, hot lines, auto-dialers etc. may be installed at all major bank branches holding large amount of cash”. (Reference: RBI website https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_CircularIndexDisplay.aspx?Id=4939). Similarly, another RBI circular RBI/2013-14/602 DCM (CC) No.G-20/03.39.01/2013-14, dated May 23, 2014, named CCTV Coverage of all cash handling operations in Currency Chests mentions that CCTVs surveillance should also cover all cash operations in the vaults/strong rooms and other cash handling areas to identify any mischief/irregularity (Reference: RBI website https://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_CircularIndexDisplay.aspx?Id=4939).

The above two circulars reflects that RBI has advised/instructed the banks to install modern electronic security gadgets only at the major bank branches holding large amount of cash or CCTV coverage of all cash handling operations in Currency Chests i.e. those selected branches of scheduled banks which are authorised by the RBI to facilitate distribution of notes and coins. Hence, the guidelines of RBI itself don’t make it mandatory to install CCTV in all the branches of banks.

Further, as per the details available on the website of BCSBI – The Chairman, BCSBI and members of the Governing Council held a conference of Principal Code Compliance Officers and faculty of member banks in Mumbai on February 12, 2011. Wherein, one of the issues raised by member banks, as mentioned against Serial No. 23, is that “As per para 9.1 of Code, banks need to install CCTV for close surveillance as part of security arrangements. This may not be required at Rural and smaller towns”. Against which the BCSBI clarification is that “It is for the banks to assess the security environment of their offices and determine their need to install CCTV for surveillance”. (Reference: BCSBI website http://www.bcsbi.org.in/MB_PrincipalCodes_12Feb2011.html)

So, the stand of banks, in installing CCTV for surveillance, is reflected in the above-mentioned representation, wherein they have very clearly demarcated the need for installation of CCTV cameras based on “location of bank branches”. Thus, the bank management is also of the view that the cost involved in the installation of CCTV cameras in all the branches, far exceeds the benefits it will fetch. However, let me make it very clear that this doesn’t mean that these so-called rural or small town branches are less prone to cash related risks.

Hence, from the above-mentioned discussion, it is very much clear that neither the RBI nor the banks, consider it necessary to install CCTV cameras in all the bank branches, simply because of precedence to Cost over Security. So, in this way, the governing body i.e. RBI, as well as, the bank management unintentionally gave a free hand to the culprits by ignoring the very first step of curbing crimes i.e. Fear of Being Watched.

Implementation of Whistle Blower Policy – If any organisation is not able to detect the occurrence of any fraudulent event in their system “on its own” then it’s a matter of serious concern for that organisation. It calls for some immediate actions to be taken by the organisation like enhancing the security features, strengthening the monitoring and control procedures and, at the same time, evaluating the Whistle Blower Policy of the organisation. Non-detection of fraudulent events somehow indicates that either there is no Whistle Blower Policy in the organisation or else it is not being implemented in the right spirit.

To understand the role of a properly implemented Whistle Blower Policy, in simple terms, let us take the example of the current frauds that happened in any of the bank branches. Now, do you think that all the person’s working in that specific bank branch, including the off-role staff, was involved in that fraud? Was the entire branch corrupt? Is it possible that no one else other than the fraudster knew that there was something fishy going on in the branch? Was there no honest person in the branch? If you think that there is even a slight possibility of the presence of an honest person in that branch, who had some clue about anything illegal going on in the branch then that person could have been the Whistle Blower for the bank.

In the present case, the Whistle Blower would have helped the bank in identifying the fraud at its nascent stage and in turn would have saved the bank from incurring huge losses. However, it works only when an organisation realizes the importance of having a Whistle Blower Policy that is clearly documented, communicated and implemented in the right spirit. Only then any organisation could think of detecting and fixing the loopholes “at the origin itself” and thereby stop any unsolicited situation from turning into an uncontrollable monster.

Since most of the current fraud cases were detected by an outside agency and not the banks themselves, so now the ball is in the bank’s court to analyse and decide whether the Whistle Blower Policy (if at all) is properly implemented in their organisation or not. Do note that there is a vast difference in having a documented process, just for the sake of complying with the rules and regulations, vis-à-vis having a process implemented in the right spirit.

As per my view, if the culprits had the “Fear of Being Watched” and there was a properly implemented Whistle Blower Policy then the situation would have been much different from the present one. At least the banks would have been in a far better position to detect such frauds at the inception stage. And, indeed the early identification of some fraud cases would have curtailed such fraudulent events from growing into such large numbers.

I would like to conclude this blog with the hope that each one of us takes learning from these incidences and strengthen the controls at our workplace so that such events don’t occur in future. At the same time, I also hope that we do have proper communication channels, where a Whistle Blower’s voice is heard and acted upon by the authorized persons with utmost secrecy. Let us all strive together to make our organisations a secure place with stringent controls all around.

God Bless you all!

Be in touch.

Peyush Jain

Posted in Banks, Black Money, Common Man, Corruption, Democracy, Financial Institutions, Financial Risk, Frauds, Government, Hindustan, India, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Politics, RBI, Slogging, System, Terrorism, Terrorist, Victim

Demonetisation of High Indian Currency Note – Was it really a masterstroke? – Part 3

Ha! Here I am with the third part of the blog “Demonetisation of High Indian Currency Note – Was it really a masterstroke”? I am sure till now every thinking mind must have figured out the answer to this question. But still, if we ask this question to the “blind or paid followers” they will shoot us with a spontaneous reply, which obviously will be a straight YES (to be read in Bold and CAPITAL). Apparently, after that YES we are not supposed to ask WHY or HOW because to answer it, one need to have some kind of logics by their side. However, it’s a known fact that there is no place for logics in blind worshipping. So if you are among those, who use their brain to analyse things and don’t get coloured with marketing strategies, then instead of banging your head with the blind worshippers, you should try to analyse the facts in light of what was actually achieved in those 50 days and know for yourself the ‘ground’ reality.

In the first part of this blog I have mentioned (with logics) that this step of Demonetisation wouldn’t have much impact on the three major reasons that were provided by Mr. Pradhan Sevak, on the eve of 8th November 2016, behind opting the demonetisation of the high currency notes i.e. 1) Corruption, 2) Black Money, and 3) Terrorism. However, it took long enough to the Government of India to realise this and finally after witnessing the hardship faced by the honest citizens of India, the ministers of the ruling party to have stopped talking about those three reasons and now they are just stressing on paperless economy (which coincidently was one of the solutions in the first part of this blog).

Although, the ego and political ambition of the politicians won’t allow them to accept it in open that this step of Demonetisation was not effective in curbing corruption, black money, and terrorism, in comparison to the cost, hardship and economic impact associated with it, but still it is the hard-core reality which can’t be changed. The politicians can continue self-praising themselves and keep patting their back, but everyone (except the blind and paid followers), knows that the Government of India (GOI) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have substantially goofed up in taking this drastic step. For sure the Pradhan Sevak of India and the Governor of RBI knows this fact and may be in the later stage of their life they might gather the courage to openly agree to this blunder on their part. But as of now, the Pradhan Sevak has to keep his ego intact and the Governor of RBI, in order to save his job, has to stand by the side of his Master, so from their side, everything seems to be a goody-goody.

However, if we analyse the events of last 50 days, we will come to know that the GOI and RBI themselves are working on a “Trial and Error” mode. There is a list of absurd steps taken-withdrawn, taken-withdrawn, by the GOI and RBI post 8th November 2016. To name a few like fixing a limit of Rs. 2.5 Lakh cash withdrawal for marriage expenses or keeping of more than 10 old notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 post 31st December 2016 to be a criminal offence. If asked about these measures, they reply that they have taken these steps based on the feedbacks received from the people. God knows who gives them such feedbacks and ideas to grill innocent people who are already facing a lot of hardships.

How hilarious it is that when the politicians are spending crores of money on marriages, they expect a common man to conduct a marriage in just Rs. 2.5 Lakhs. Mr. Pradhan Sevak when the inflation is already hitting the common citizens to a great extent, do you still think that it is possible to arrange a marriage in one-fourth of the cost of a suit which you once wore? Further, you intended to throw the people behind the bars if they are holding more than 10 old notes of high currency, even if it is out of their hard-earned white money which they were unable to exchange before 31st December 2016? I fail to understand that by this ordinance are they trying to give an indication and a safe passage to the black money holders to destroy the black money in their possession, if “by any chance” they are still not able to convert it into white money?

The government is patting their back by taking surveys on Social Networking websites or Twitter with questions that are bound to be replied in praising the work of the government. While, as per the data available on internetlivestats.com only 34.8% of Indian population is having access to the Internet (Reference: www.internetlivestats.com). When the majority of the population is not on the internet how can we get the correct feedback of what is happening in the real world by conducting surveys in the virtual world? The fact is that whoever wants to know the ground reality will have to come out from the virtual world and step into the real world to feel the nerves of the common man who has been impacted the most because of this Demonetisation step.

The so-called 50 days after which India is supposedly going to change are over now. But still, there are long queues in front of Banks and ATM’s, especially in rural areas. Also, there is a major shortfall of currency in the country. But still, both the Government and RBI claims that the queues have reduced and there is enough availability and supply of currency in the country. Don’t know which world they come from? Seems they have booked a villa in the virtual world to stay in, because the real world is still suffering, which they can’t observe from their place of living. Anyway, who cares for the rural population, which is worthy for the politicians only at the time of elections, right?

The small and medium enterprises have been impacted to a great extent in a negative way and it will take months or years for them to be back on track. The farmers, daily wage labourers, hawkers everyone has been badly impacted. Above all, what scares me more is that the hopes of common citizens are going to be shattered in months to come when they are going to realize that in reality, they are not going to get anything in turn for the hardships they faced all these days.

The two major achievements of Demonetisation are shattering of the hopes of common citizens of Motherland India and the downfall of the image of Reserve Bank of India. Now, the only possible remedy is to brainwash the minds of people and to do this Mr. Pradhan Sevak has to come out either with some other Jumla and trap the innocent citizens with his buttery speeches or else take some drastic steps “with thorough preparedness” this time so that the objectives are actually achieved. Only then the government can hope to recover a bit from the setback of demonetisation.

Herewith, let me make it very clear that I am not trying to say that we are perfect and whatever we do is flawless. Each one of us does make mistakes and that is how we eventually learn and achieve the ultimate objective. However, the greatness of a person is reflected when s/he has the guts to accept the mistake, rather than trying hard to cover it up and convincing others that they were right on their part. For once can they think over and above their personal benefits? Above all, it’s a high time for each one of us to realize that for how long we are going to get fooled with the Jumla’s, emotional or humorous speeches?

I wish that the Almighty give good sense to each one of us.

God bless you all!

 

Peyush Jain

Posted in Banks, Black Money, Common Man, Corruption, Democracy, Financial Institutions, Financial Risk, Frauds, Government, Hindustan, India, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Politics, RBI, Slogging, System, Terrorism, Terrorist, Victim

Demonetisation of High Indian Currency Note – Was it really a masterstroke? – Part 2

It seems as if post-midnight of 8th November 2016; all of a sudden, Indian streets have become the most favourite place to hang out. Long queues could be witnessed at places where the old high denomination currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 are either being accepted, changed or deposited. So much of chaos could be seen at most of the bank branches and ATM machines. The poor and middle-class people, patients, farmers, senior citizens, foreign tourists, all are standing for days, in long queues, for their hard-earned money. Further to this, every other day, a new announcement or a roll back of any previous announcement comes from either the government or the regulatory agency, in the name of easing up the problems faced by the common ‘honest’ citizens of India.

Although, the Government of India (GOI) along with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are trying their level best to bring the situation under control, however, the reality is that in rural and interior areas the condition hasn’t changed much. The problem, especially in the rural and interior areas, has aggravated to such a large extent that none of the measures seems to be sufficient enough to bring a significant relief on the hardships that the common men are facing. Due to non-availability of cash in the market, the business is also getting impacted to a large extent. The biggest worry is that it is substantially affecting the agriculture sector, as well. Since we know that India’s economy is agriculture dependent, so if corrective measures are not taken immediately, then it is ultimately going to hit our economy, as a whole. This demonetisation step which was meant to hit the backbone of the corrupt people, black money holders, and terrorists, has actually brought a lot of hardship in the life of honest people. If things continue to be like this and don’t change soon, then the possibility of this resulting in first of its kind “economic riots” happening in the country could not be discarded altogether.

There is no argument on the point that some problems are likely to occur when such radical steps are taken in any economy. But still, a question arise that does hardship to such a large extent is a part and parcel of this demonetisation scheme or was it possible to smoothly execute it, causing least possible trouble to the honest citizens of the nation? Was it so difficult for the learned thinking caps to foresee even the basic problems that will occur on account of banning 86% of the currency from the market? Somehow it reflects that lot many of important things got skipped at the planning stage. Similarly, it forces us to think that whether this entire chaotic situation happened because the regulatory agency could not foresee the consequences of undertaking such a big task of demonetisation in world’s second largest populated country. Or is it that the regulatory agency chooses to surrender in front of the government and hence this step of demonetisation was taken in a hurry with half-hearted preparedness? Now, every responsible authority should evaluate that whether this demonetisation scheme is being implemented in the correct manner or could it have been implemented in a more appropriate manner?

Is it not a big lapse on our part if before executing any scheme we are unable to think of the bare minimum problems that will be faced by the citizens and come up with a solution in advance? If we do a root cause analysis of all the current chaos in the market, we will know that the reason of all these hardships is non-availability of sufficient currency. Why was the adequate availability of new currency notes not been ensured before taking up this drastic step? Although, GOI and RBI are assuring the citizens that there is enough availability of currency in the country, however, the hard-core reality is that within a couple of hours bank branches and post offices run out of cash and those standing for hours, in long queues, have to return empty-handed.

Post implementation of demonetisation also it seems they are not able to come up with precise measures to ease the pain. Why else they will have to roll back the announcements, every now and then? Quite surprisingly, District Central Co-operative Banks (DCCB) and Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS), which constitutes a strong pillar of our financial system especially in the rural areas, are restricted from accepting deposits in demonetised old currency notes. I fail to understand that when as a corrective measure cash withdrawal facility is made available at petrol pumps, what is the logic behind keeping Co-operative banks aloof in this situation which is on the verge of going out of control with each passing day? Is it on account of trust issues with the functioning of DCCB and PACS because of which this action has been taken? This is the question that needs to be answered by RBI and if the answer to that is in affirmative then RBI should take timely corrective actions.

It is to be noted here that in spite of all the hardships, the common men stands with the government in the fight against black money and has wholeheartedly extended their support in favour of this decision. The major reason of masses backing up demonetisation is because they are suffering since long from the disease of corruption, black money and terrorism and they seriously want to eradicate it from the nation, once for all. They are ready to face short-term pain, in anticipation of a better future. They have placed their hope in the present leadership and are positive that after 30th December 2016, the nation will see a new beginning of a corruption free India. Although, how much of that is actually achievable is a question that only the future will be able to answer correctly. I do hope that the wishes of common citizens come true this time and they are not left disappointed as usual.

I wish that the Almighty give good sense to each one of us.

God bless you all!

 

Peyush Jain

Posted in Banks, Black Money, Common Man, Corruption, Democracy, Financial Institutions, Financial Risk, Frauds, Government, Hindustan, India, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Politics, RBI, Slogging, System, Terrorism, Terrorist, Victim

Demonetisation of High Indian Currency Note – Was it really a masterstroke?

As per the notification issued by the present Indian Government, with effect from midnight of 8th November 2016, existing High Indian Currency Notes having the denomination of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 (which accounts for almost 86% of the currency) ceases to hold its status as legal tender. In simple terms, existing Indian Currency Notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 are banned from the said date, and hence, these notes are not valid for any kind of monetary transactions like receipts and payments i.e. the transaction value of these currency notes is henceforth Nil. However, keeping in mind the convenience of the citizens, the central government has notified certain services/products/organisations like hospitals, petrol pumps/gas stations, etcetera, wherein for specified transactions, Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes shall be accepted, until the date specified by the government.

It’s indeed a historic step taken by the present government and majority of the citizens, irrespective of the temporary inconvenience encountered at their end, are happy and stand with the government in this move. The common men, the experts, the economists, as well as, a lot many of the learned and respected persons across the globe have opined their views in favour of this move and expressed it as a drastic step taken by the present Indian Government in the fight against black money.

However, in this “viral addictive” world, it’s highly important to analyse, with an open mindset, that all the information circulated around us is absolutely correct or not. Likewise, we need to analyse whether this step of demonetisation is really going to have a larger and futuristic impact, “as claimed from every direction”? Was it really a masterstroke or did the government somewhere missed the opportunity to hit a home run? So guys, keep your thinking caps on, while we try to find out the answers to all such questions and rest be assured that this blog is surely going to serve you with a healthy food of thought and will indeed be an eye opener.

First of all, let us find out that why the Indian Government has taken this step of demonetisation of High Indian Currency Notes? – On the eve of 8th November 2016, the Pradhan Sevak, Mr. Narendra Damodar Modi, in his historic and crystal clear speech, conveyed all the information with regard to demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes and explained every minute detail. At the outset, he deserves a big applause for such a good speech. Further, addressing the nation, Mr. Pradhan Sevak, informed the three major reasons behind opting for demonetisation of the high currency notes i.e. 1) Corruption, 2) Black Money, and 3) Terrorism.

Hence, in the subsequent paragraphs of this blog, we will analyze demonetisation of high currency notes in light of the above mentioned three reasons and try to understand that how effective the demonetisation step will be in addressing those three issues:-

1) Corruption – In order to understand the impact of demonetisation of high currency notes on corruption, let’s first divide corruption into pre and post demonetisation period i.e. corruption that has already taken place before demonetisation and corruption that is going to take place after demonetisation of High Indian Currency Notes.

a) Corruption before demonetisation – All the cases of corruption that has occurred on or before the midnight of 8th November 2016 falls in this list. I am sure every sane mind will agree that we can’t undo anything that has already been done in the past (unless and until there is a secret time machine existing on planet earth). So, the corruption that has already been done in the past can’t be undone by merely demonetisation of currency notes, because of the simple reason that the money has already travelled from the hands of the sufferer into the hands of the corrupt individual.

Now, a valid question might pop up in your mind that although the past corruption cases could not be undone, as well as, the sufferers could not gain any benefit from this step, but, wouldn’t just by demonetisation of high currency notes the money that is lying in the hands of the corrupt people will automatically turn into scrap, and, in this way, help in fighting corruption? Herewith, I would urge you to park this question in your mind for some time, because the answer to this question is available in the point number 2 on Black Money.

b) Corruption after demonetisation – All the cases of corruption that are going to take place post-midnight of 8th November 2016 falls under this list. Now, please don’t accuse me of being so optimistic about corruption. On the contrary, don’t we all know that “occurrence of corruption” is a hard-core reality and it is bound to occur even after demonetisation of high currency notes? So, the big question is that what will be the impact of demonetisation on the future corruption cases?

Since demonetisation is a one-time cleansing activity which will make the existing high currency notes ineffective, so it won’t have a larger role to play in curbing future corruption cases, as well. At the most it can have a short-term impact on the mindset of corrupt people, but, as and when the new high currency notes are easily available in the market, the corruption will once again catch its pace.

On the contrary, the absence of High Currency Notes in an economy could have a larger impact on the “occurrence of corruption” in any country. The logic behind it is that transactions on account of illegitimate deals and corrupt demands mostly get materialize by transfer of funds in high currency notes. So, there is a fair chance that if there are no high denomination currencies notes available in a country then the graph of corruption might decline substantially. Thus, the absence of high currency notes could play a major role, in at least curbing the corruption, if not eradicating it completely. This is the very reason which has compelled most of the developed nations to ban high currency notes in their respective nations.

Now, the present government somewhere missed this golden opportunity to curb the future corruption cases because even though they focused on demonetising the existing high currency notes, but, at the same time, they went a step further and issued new higher denomination Indian Currency Note of Rs. 2000, along with the new currency note of Rs. 500 and further propose to issue the new currency note of Rs. 1000, as well, in near future. Now, this step of once again issuing the high denomination notes is contradicting the very purpose of curbing the corruption cases which materializes by means of high currency notes. This move of the government has once again left the doors open for future corruption to enter in our economy and this time on a much larger scale.

Solution to curb Corruption – Although, the high denomination currency notes help in ease of monetary transactions, however, at the same time, it comes with a very high risk of flourishing corruption in the economy. Thus, if at all, the government intends to curb the future corruption in the country then all the high denomination currency notes should be banned, until the time a technology is devised which either makes it impossible to replica the notes or else makes it possible to track each and every single currency notes issued in the country. Further, we should strive to move towards a paperless currency in near future.

2) Black Money – The second reason, as provided by the government, for opting the demonetisation step is black money. By this step, the government is projecting that the black money holder will either keep holding the black money or destroy it, which will eventually turn it into scrap, or else, the black money will come out in the economy. Indeed, there is no argument on the point that under the current circumstances, only these two outcomes are possible for the black money that is held in high currency notes and there is no third possibility available.

Now, if we analyse both the possible outcomes, we will realize that, as far as, the first outcome is concerned there is not much to worry about as the transaction value of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 note is already Nil, and, as such, holding or destroying the currency notes won’t affect the economy much. However, the real problem arises with the second outcome i.e. when black money starts coming out in the economy. The biggest concern with this outcome is the channel through which this black money will enter the economy. Needless to say that there is no problem when the black money is routed through legitimate means i.e. after paying taxes, penalties and complying with other legal formalities. But, it’s a known fact that those opting for the legitimate route (if at all) will be meagre in number, while the majority will resort to the illegitimate means of converting black money into white and, thereby, flushing the black money into the economy.

Hence, no one can discard the fact that the major chunk of black money is going to be routed through illegitimate routes only. Now, assuming that majority of the ‘liquid’ black money is held in high currency note, the real challenge that is posed in front of any economy is to keep a check on the means from where the black money could be pumped into our economy, especially in circumstances like demonetisation of high currency notes. At the same time, it should also be kept in mind that not much time should be made available for the black money holders to convert their black money into white. So, as and when, a country opts for drastic steps like demonetisation to curb black money, the importance of keeping a check and control ‘beforehand’ on all such means from where the black money could be converted into white money should be given extra weight-age, because any loop-hole on this front could ultimately hamper the very purpose of demonetisation. Herewith, I would like to clarify that beforehand check and control means stopping the activities to occur at the first stage, rather than taking corrective actions.

Now, on this front, the present government has missed the bus. The holders of black money got enough time, as well as, mean to dispose of the black money in their possession. Just to throw some light on this, I would like to draw your attention towards the incidences that happened after the notification for demonetisation was issued from government’s end. As a matter of fact, the government notified the nation at around 8 P.M. about banning the high currency notes with effect from midnight of 8th November 2016. Thus, on an average, the time left was less than 4 hours for black money holders to materialize the deals. However, it is interesting to note that the jewellery shops did ‘record’ business post this notification and some of the jewellery shops are claimed to have remained open till 4 A.M. of 9th November 2016. This denotes that although the transaction value of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes post-midnight of 8th November 2016 is Nil, but still, monetary transactions are taking place in high currency notes, right in front of the eyes of the government. This simply means that even though all these transactions are illegal, yet the government made no attempt to stop them “at their source”.

Will the Income tax raids on selective business groups/shops, post happening of the transactions, in any way, going to help in catching all the black money holders?  If banks could be kept closed for one day for preparedness with respect to demonetisation, wasn’t it in nation’s interest to be extra vigilant and close all those businesses wherein the black money held in high currency notes was supposed to be expended like jewellery shops, etcetera? Why were they allowed to transact post-midnight of 8th November 2016? This is the biggest loophole, of which the black money holders took advantage and flushed the black money into the economy. And further to this, since the government has notified the time frame available to change/deposit the high currency notes of almost 50 days (as of now), so there is still enough time available for the black money to get pumped in our economy through ‘illegitimate’ channels. It’s not hidden from anyone that till date monetary transactions (other than those notified by the government) are taking place in our economy, with Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes because of the simple reason that there is still time available for getting them changed/deposited in the bank accounts. The government should have warned the citizens that all the monetary transactions (other than those specifically notified by the government) that take place by exchange of Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 currency notes are illegal and should be dealt with seriously.

Herewith, I would also like to draw your attention to one more point that, as far as, means to route black money into banking channels is concerned, other than the mostly used measures like purchase of precious commodities, real estate, jewellery, hawala transactions, etcetera, this time there is a high probability of black money channelizing through all those bank accounts which were opened under “Jan Dhan Yojana”. Although, the “Jan Dhan Yojana” is indeed a very good initiative by the present government for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services for all those people who were earlier deprived of these channels, but still there is a high chance that now all these bank accounts might be used as a means of channelizing black money. The black money holders will surely be eyeing on all these accounts, for converting their black money into white money, especially in the light of the government’s clarification that amount deposited up to Rs. 2.5 Lacs in single accounts would not be questioned much. Similarly, a lot of black money could get pumped in the name of agriculture income, donations received by charitable institutions, NGO’s, etcetera. So, this is also a big challenge to monitor black money that gets routed into the economy through these channels. Above all, the current bandwidth of any investigation agency is not enough to scrutinize the details of all the bank accounts and post bank accounts.

Solution to curb Black Money – In order to curb black money, by way of demonetisation, two of the most important things to be focused on, are the time and means available with the black money holders for converting the black money into white money. The interesting thing to note here is that if there will be no time available to convert the black money into white money, all the means to channelize the black money into white money will automatically get ineffective and there is a high probability that the majority of the liquid black money held in high currency notes will get scrapped, on its own. Having said that, the real challenge that will pose in such situation is that how to tackle the conversion of high currency notes held in the hands of honest citizens, because these high currency notes will be required to be converted into small denomination notes and for that reasonable time needs to be given to the citizens of the nation.

So, as far as, time is concerned the government is left with not much option because they have to give reasonable time to the citizens for changing/depositing the cash-in-hand available with them in high denomination currency notes. Hence, the hard-core reality is that after demonetisation step, the black money can’t be stopped in totality from entering the banking channels. Thus, the only option left with the government now is to engage the entire machinery in monitoring and controlling the means from where the black money could be routed, so that at least the amount of black money that is entering into the economy could be restricted to the bare minimum.

3) TerrorismHawala transactions and counterfeit currency notes are two of the major sources of fund for terrorism in the country. Supposing that majority of the funding for terrorism takes place in high denomination currency notes, demonetisation of these notes will automatically break the nexus and, in turn, bring a ‘temporary’ reduction in the terrorism activities on our soil. Demonetisation is indeed a powerful stroke against terrorism because it will have the impact of ceasing the funding through counterfeit currency notes in a single blow, and, at the same time, it will also help in restricting the funds transferred through Hawala transactions for funding of terrorism. However, it is to be noted here that this is only a temporary solution to restrict terrorism activities, and, as and when people with malicious intentions are able to replicate and print the counterfeit notes of the new high denomination currency notes issued in our country, the supply of counterfeit notes for funding terrorism will start again.

Solution to curb Terrorism – For curbing terrorism breeding on account of high denomination currency notes, the permanent solution is to ban all the high denomination currency notes in the economy and strive to move towards an economy with paperless currency.

Finally, after analyzing the demonetisation of high currency notes, in line with issues like corruption, black money and terrorism, my view is that although the intentions behind opting for demonetisation step are good, however, somehow the government missed hitting the home run on account of the various reasons mentioned in the respective points above. Now, I leave the ball in your court to decide whether it was a masterstroke or not.

I would like to conclude this blog with the hope that may this demonetisation step bring positive changes in our economy and, once for all, remove the chronic diseases like corruption, black money and terrorism from our soil. At the same time, I do hope that the government takes remedial measures in time so that it is able to restrict the black money from flowing into our banking channels. Let us wait and watch to see what is hidden in the womb of future.

I wish that the Almighty give good sense to each one of us.

Be in touch.

God bless you all!

 

Peyush Jain

Posted in Common Man, Crime, Government, Investigation Agencies, Management Lessons, Peace, Privacy, Security, Slogging, Technology, Terrorism, Terrorist, Victim

Apple Inc. vs. FBI – Is it a clash between Privacy and Security?

In this blog let us dissect from a “layman’s point of view” the major issue that has popped up from the much talked about legal case between the company named Apple Inc. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), over the decryption issue of an iPhone (Smartphone), which is alleged to be used by a convicted person in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. The most important question that the aforementioned case evokes in our mind is that “what is more important for us, Privacy or Security”?

At the outset, let me make it very clear that this blog is not meant to take sides of any of the parties concerned in the said case, which is pending before the court of law. However, this blog talks about a serious issue which is going to arise in front of every country and their citizens in the near future, as the technology keeps climbing the advancement stages. This clash between humans and technology is going to take a more extreme form in the days to come. So let’s be prepared to enjoy the technological growth, face the new challenges and bear the consequences in the near future.

In this blog, I have taken reference of the Message dated 16th February 2016, communicated to their customers, by Mr. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc. Although, I have cited the relevant points of the said message at relevant places in this blog, however, for the complete message kindly check the company’s official website. (Source: www.apple.com)

In his message, Mr. Cook has strongly opposed the United States government order demanding decryption of the iPhone. He claims that this government order not only threatens the security of their customers but also has implications far beyond the legal case at hand. Let us see if this message is clear enough on all the points that arise in our mind or is it that some very important questions are still left unanswered. Mr. Cook has tried to clarify Apple’s stand in 4 points. So, herewith, let us try to comprehend all those points, along with the blogger’s view on the respective points –

1. The Need for Encryption

Apple’s stand – All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple, we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data.

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.

Blogger’s View – Apple’s stand on encryption and commitment towards safeguarding a customer’s data is quite clear and appropriate. There is no argument on the point that all the information needs to be protected without fail from hackers and criminals. Indeed, we all, as a customer, do expect technology companies to protect our personal information and no exceptions should be tolerated on this front by any company or individual. At the same time, we also need to ask ourselves that do we want to safeguard the information that any criminal might be using against anyone of us. Will this not lead to putting the personal safety of the masses at risk?

It is rightly said in the message that information needs to be protected without fail from “hackers and criminals”. Now the only doubt that I have in my mind is that, on one hand, we are talking about protecting our database from hackers/criminals, while on the other hand, we are letting the other criminals use our “protecting measures”, as a shield against all the criminal activities in which they are involved into. Isn’t this contradictory to our very own purpose? First of all, we should be clear in our mind that whose data we want to protect. Can the same rules be applied to an innocent individual, as well as, a criminal? Shouldn’t there be a difference in approach while dealing with a criminal?

2. The San Bernardino Case

Apple’s stand – We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Blogger’s View – Every sane person will undoubtedly condemn any kind of illegal activities and terrorist attacks. We all mourn for the losses of life and sympathies with all those affected by such cruel attacks, anywhere on this earth. We all want justice and stand united against all the terrorists. As claimed, Apple has taken every effort which was within their power and within the law to help in the investigation. This is worth appreciating and it would be right to mention here that it is the responsibility of each one of us to cooperate and help with the investigating agencies in each and every single case.

Further, it is being mentioned that “But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create”. Herewith, the 4 words in the above statement i.e. “too dangerous to create” caught my attention. After reading those 4 words, I stopped for a minute and questioned myself that what could be more dangerous than innocent people being killed in a terrorist attack. Atom bombs, nuclear bombs, hydrogen bombs and all other destructive weapons are dangerous, but still, we create it in the name of our safety.

I can very well understand the implication that this creation will have when it passes on “in the wrong hands”. But isn’t that risk attached to each and every single activity? Aren’t all the technologies dangerous if they reach in the wrong hands? Aren’t we all bound to live with the risk of destructive weapons reaching in the wrong hands? So, can decrypting a terrorist’s iPhone pass this test of “dangerous to create”?

It is further being quoted that “They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone”. Since I am not an expert in the field of technology, so I won’t be able to comment much on the same. However, I seriously think that if we do not agree to any suggestion then we should come up with another suggestion or try to figure out any other possible option, instead of straight away discarding the possibility of taking any course of action. I do hope that those who can build such powerful encrypted software could surely come up with a technology which could be used to decrypt the same, without weakening the privacy of other users. If this is not feasible then any other solution could be figured out, but only if we desire to reach on to some solution.

3. The Threat to Data Security

Apple’s stand – Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers – including tens of millions of American citizens – from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

Blogger’s View – As per my personal views, decrypting any encrypted software could never be a simple solution. It’s a tough task that requires expertise. As far as, the basics of digital security and the significance of the government demand are concerned, a generalized view could not be applied to each and every single case. Cases which are pertaining to the security of the people and wherein the life of innocent people are at stake, needs to be looked upon with a larger perspective.

The last line in the above mentioned point states that “Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them”, which means that even Apple agrees to the fact that the criminals and persons with malicious intentions are always working hard in decrypting all the encrypted software’s in the world, in which they are interested. Doesn’t it mean that no system is full proof? If we agree to this fact then wouldn’t it be advisable for each and every single company which is responsible for the protection of the data to be upfront in decrypting their own software to find out bugs, even before their system is hacked by other hackers/criminals? I am sure all the big technology companies must be having such teams in their research wings. If this sounds feasible enough, then there is a slight possibility of decrypting the iPhone used by the terrorist. If not, then for sure the learned and experienced technical persons can come up with some way out to tackle this decrypting issue.

I completely agree with the concern raised in the above-mentioned point that “Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices”. However, let us take a hypothetical situation wherein one has to enter a premise captured by the terrorists, which has been locked by an encrypted lock which could only be unlocked by decrypting the lock. Now, tell me in this situation, will we back off from decrypting this lock just because all other similar locks could be decrypted post we create that decrypting software? Doesn’t that tantamount to providing a shield to the criminals? Now, it is for each one of us to think with a sound mind and decide that what should be our priority in such crucial situations, security or privacy.

It is also mentioned that “The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers”. Well, if the government is asking to decrypt all the users, irrespective of being a criminal or not, then without any second thought we can say that Apple has rightfully done in declining that demand straight away. But if that demand is only to decrypt the iPhone of a specific terrorist then it could not be generalized by saying that the government is asking Apple to hack their own users. I leave it on your good sense to decide whom we consider as our customers the innocent people or the terrorists?

4. A Dangerous Precedent

Apple’s stand – Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Blogger’s View – As I am not a subject matter expert so it would not be right on my part to comment on the specific act applicable to the United States. However, with regard to implications of the government’s demands as mentioned in the above point, I would like to once again state that “if the government is asking/asks in future to decrypt all the users, irrespective of being a criminal or not, then without any second thought, such demands should straight away be declined by the concerned company.

Now, I would like to end this blog with these thoughts that sooner or later we all will have to decide whether technology could be allowed to compromise the security of a nation and its citizens or not? What should be our priority, Privacy or Security? Could anything be more important than the life of a living being? Could governments be allowed to break into our privacy in the name of our security? As far as, standalone viewpoints of both the parties i.e. Apple Inc. and FBI, are concerned there is nothing wrong with them. None of the parties could be said to have bad intentions. However, we do hope that the parties concerned looks into the matter with a larger perspective and are able to reach on to some consensus. Finally, it’s for the court to decide the outcome of the case, so let’s wait and watch what lies in the womb of future.

I hope this blog will compel our mind to think on a serious issue which is going to hit every nation and citizens thereof, in the near future. It’s the right time that we take necessary action to overcome any future obstacles that can arise due to technological advancements. The need of the hour is to strike the right balance between technology, privacy, and security.

I wish the almighty bless us with good sense. God bless you all!

 

Peyush Jain