And so these men of Hindustan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right
And all were in the wrong.
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
The ‘Blind Men and the Elephant’ by John Godfrey Saxe has always been quoted when it comes to Indian strategic thought process. It is said thathistory repeats itself, “the first as tragedy, then as farce“. How else do you describe a nation that continues not to get its act together inspite of having numerous times faced invasions and then been ruled over.
In my endeavours to raise the awareness of our decision makers and wean the critical infrastructure of our nation away from backdoored technologies from the global MNC’s and also earn a living as an entreprenuer and concerned citizen, I have come across a lot of bull ***t peddled by the marketing divisions of these MNC’s. The present Govt announcing FOSS technologies as the prefered option for government projects keeping security and lifetime costs was a welcome first step. But is that enough ?
I shall revisit those fundamentals of security to ask these of our security experts .. Can hardware and software be tested and certified in an environment where constant software and firmware updates are the norm ? Are other nations permitting hardware and software in their classified networks from other nations ? So why can’t we clearly enunciate our national policy and kick start a complete industry in consonance with our Govt’s stated policy of ‘Make in India’, ‘Startup India’ etc.
What businesses need to prosper are markets, at this point can any Indian manufacturer compete with the global majors when evidence of their collusion with the parent nation’s deep state have been documented and our state apparatus looks on and says there are no differentiation in foreign and indigenous products. Do we need a KPMG or a PWC to consult and tell us how to design our critical infrastructure and a committee then presided over by our so called experts to rubber stamp the procurement of backdoored products with tenders designed in ways to scuttle any domestic competition. Dont such policies reek of treason ?
Our National Security cannot be outsourced and in the ICT sphere no technology or product can be certified as secure unless the entire production and support processes are under our control. This domain resembles the human society in its construct and can only be secured if the product is indigenous, with the writ of our laws running on those companies and individuals making them. What is needed is a frame work to ensure that these private companies remain Indian. This can easily be achieved and only requires a framework on the lines of In Q Tel and a change in our procurement policies.
The FOSS framework is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. FOSS can be used as a basic boiler plate to make viable alternatives without the need to reinvent the wheel. The point to keep in mind is Indigenous Technology. To change the narrative and now emphasise on FOSS over indigenous products is disengenious and akin to the Devil quoting from the scriptures.
In the same way as only Indian citizens can join the armed forces, only Indian designed and manufactured products can secure our national critical infrastructure. The Chinese or Western products whatever be the certification will only protect us to the extant and time the OEM deems necessary. This step can’t wait for any further dilly dallying while committees explore whether Indian alternatives exist ? Please stop procurement till then and do not waste tax payers money on a scam of immense proportion which undermines national security..