Good to know that someone in government has come to a point where they are looking at the insecurity of using WhatsApp messaging platform in professional life, The convenience of WhatsApp beats any logical decision to stay away, and the same can be said about all social media apps.
Seeing the announcement for the development of the Government Instant Messaging Service (GIMS) by National Informatics Center (NIC) it brought up one simple question – in the middle of too many cooks does the Government know what the Government does.
No support for domestic entrepreneurship & vested interests
The reason for asking this question is simple – a couple of years earlier the Government had asked and invited a leading Indian service provider to create this very same app. These poor sods were fired up with their patriotic zeal and slogged to create a nice working app. It seems that they presented the concept at the HIGHEST LEVEL of the security establishment and it was well received. When they were ready they were asked by MHA to attend a “confidential” meeting to present the finished product. Imagine their shock to see some suited booted penguins from a Big-4 consulting firm sitting in the meeting who were introduced as “advisors”. These same advisors, said “Why are we reinventing the wheel. When WA is already available why create a new one!”
Lo and behold – this advice was taken up immediately, and the product shot down. To add insult to injury the babus told these guys not to waste time. WTH – you invited these guys to make it and now after they have invested so much in the development you are talking waste, based on the wasted minds of the big-4 idiots you brought into a confidential meeting.
History repeating itself
This is not the first time I have heard about such an incident, as I have also been a victim of ignorant high handedness with a department in the defence sector. I am sure there are many individuals and companies looking up to government entities for support and dying a slow death!
Calling upon the Government for support
If Digital India and makers in India have to succeed they have to be supported by the government first and the enterprises second. There is no way any foreign entity will EVER support domestic innovation (whatever they may be saying in public). There is no way any of the so called domestic trade bodies will wholeheartedly support too, because they stand to lose out on sponsorship money, post retirement support and so much more.
One has to look around and there are hundreds of young entrepreneurs who are waiting to be accepted but the babus and buyers set high barriers in qualification criteria (in connivance with the foreign suppliers, sponsors and lobbyists). For example I can ask – how many Indian companies are found in any quadrant, wave or cloud (whether magical or normal or dirty) – none, because no one will pay in the excess of 50 lacs to woo some analyst! Indians know better than to throw money to buy time and recent events have clearly demonstrated events detrimental to national interests.
Questions about secure messaging
To come back to the subject of this piece – instant messaging – did NIC know about the effort put in for a secure app ? Did MHA or MEITY or NSA inform them?
Now that they are making the app using an open source application, will the purchase the rights to the source code? Aren’t they obliged to share the changes made to any open source application with the community an dif they do not do this, will they be exposed to any litigation later in life!
Questions that are hanging in the air and will remain unanswered. As will remain the question on my friend’s lips – I made a secure messaging app for the nation and they kicked me out to make it again! What a waste of talent and effort. This is the classic way to kick entrepreneurs out of the country and then shed crocodile tears about brain drain.
In any case, the nation awaits the outcome of this effort and hopes that secure means secure!