India has begun work on its shopping list of high-technology security equipment from the US following an explicit assurance from President Barack Obama to deepen cooperation in counter-terrorism technology transfers.
In a move aimed at improving the security establishment’s ability to track terrorists as well as create more jobs back home, Obama had not only agreed to take Indian defence-related research institutions out of the restricted export list but also further “deepen operational cooperation, counter-terrorism technology transfers and capacity building” during his visit.
Government sources said surveillance equipment — communication as well as aerial — was on the top of the wishlist being drawn up by the home ministry.
The US has one of the most advanced surveillance systems, given its heavy dependence on technical intelligence, said a senior police officer. He was particularly impressed by one that was used during Obama’s visit. “It could scan voices of people in a room and run each person’s voice against a database of voices of terror suspects.”
Earlier attempts by the security establishment in Delhi to purchase the high-tech items from countries other than the US were not very successful.
“Given the huge investments made by the US defence industry... it turned out that most of them needed clearance from the US government since some component of the equipment was manufactured by one US firm or the other,” a government official explained. “And requests for clearances were usually put on hold… ”
Security officials recalled how plans to buy mini-unarmed aerial vehicles and high-range telescopic assault rifles had to be aborted in view of such tactics in the past.