There are 50 lakh of them, and they are right outside your doorstep. So why not use them in the nation's fight against terror? This is what the home ministry is presently considering: a proposal, by the private security industry, to use the security guard outside your home or office to collect intelligence.
The initiative came from the industry, which offered to train and use its army of security guards for intelligence gathering.
And the government is interested. The buzzword in internal security circles, following the July Mumbai blasts, is "actionable intelligence", information that helps prevent terrorist strikes.
The security guard population is around 50 lakh, larger than the combined strength of the police and the armed forces, and should come in handy.
"Spotting suspicious people and informing on them is the most integral aspect of actionable intelligence," said a senior home ministry official, who requested anonymity. "Private security industry has prepared a blueprint of an intelligence flow chart which is being considered by the internal security establishment of the country."
Speaking at a recent seminar organised by the industry, home minister Shivraj Patil showed the government's interest in the plan. "The government is completely aware of the supplementary role that can be played by the private security industry in the country, especially for the purpose of gathering information against terrorism necessary to boost its intelligence network," he said.
He cautioned private security and detective agencies to practice self-regulation, however, saying that failure to do so would result in action against those who misuse power.
The industry has also suggested involving the 80 lakh-strong volunteer base of the Nehru Yuvak Kendras all over the country for the twin purpose of intelligence gathering and civil defence.
"The ministry is considering all aspects of the proposal," said the official.
The blueprint envisages a nodal officer in every security agency who will receive inputs from a security guard equipped with a two-way wireless set. "This information will be passed on to a committee of managing directors of security agencies, who will then pass it on to a government-designated nodal officer," said Kunwar Vikram Singh, president of the central association of private security industry.