As India, Israel come closer, Pune’s cyber security cluster vision grows stronger
Tel Aviv University and College of Engineering, Pune are collaborating on cyber security over the last two yearspune Updated: Jul 05, 2017 14:59 IST
A vision to accelerate India’s cyber security competency with Israeli assistance has become considerably stronger with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic three day visit to Israel which began on July 4.
This vision in the form of a solid proposal not only envisages the establishment of a Pune cyber security cluster – the first of four proposed in the country - but also close cooperation between the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) and Tel Aviv University (TAU).
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale (retd) said that the existing collaboration between COEP and TAU on cyber security needs to be taken forward.
Going beyond that, close partnerships between Indian and Israeli companies, especially start ups need to be established, he said. “We have tremendous vulnerability in the area of cyber security and at a time when we are aggressively going digital, we need to make sure that we have the tools to prevent cyber attacks and tools to mitigate, so that we can be up and running after a cyber attack. Close collaboration with Israel is, therefore, very important,” he said.
Presenting a larger perspective, Gokhale, who is the convener of the Pune dialogue on national security said strategic relations with Israel were very important in the areas of defence technology cooperation and intelligence gathering. “At the top of everything is intelligence because what we need is predictive, pre-emptive and proactive intelligence to deal with terrorism. Israelis are very good at predictive intelligence,” he said.
As articulated by Prime Ministers Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu, India and Israel need close technical cooperation in the areas of drip irrigation, agriculture, water conservation and in promoting start ups. “Israel can be a great partner in this,” he added.
Commodore Anand Khandekar (retd), one of the visionaries of the Pune cyber security cluster told Hindustan Times, “We envisage a collaboration between the government, industry, academia and users.” While the government can be the facilitator, others such as COEP, TAU and cyber industries can come together to establish the cyber security cluster and promote start ups to start ups linkages between India, Israel, USA and UK.
The Pune cyber security cluster vision envisages collaboration between the COEP and TAU on faculty augmentation and doctoral-level work in cyber security.
One of the proposals is to establish five international chairs of repute at the COEP with international experts in cyber security stationed for five years in Pune. “These experts could be people from all around the world, including Israel. In fact, at least one could certainly be from Israel as they have high expertise in this area,” he said.
He suggested that a search committee headed by the eminent scientist RA Mashelkar could be constituted to identify and appoint the five chairs. “This is extremely important for India because these experts would work closely with students pursuing advanced studies, thus, helping create a culture of cyber security expertise,” he said.
Khandekar pointed out that in December 2014, COEP and TAU signed a MoU for joint programmes in cyber security, agriculture, medical technology and smart city technologies. “One bright student from COEP was sent to TAU for a one-month course in cyber security and business management,” he recalled.
In January 2016, the cyber security cluster concept was agreed to in principle by a number of stakeholders who met in Pune with the director of cyber security from an Israeli university.
The participants at this gathering included representatives of IT firms in Pune such as TCS, Quickheal, Cadence, KPIT; academic institutes such as COEP, BHAU Institute of Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology Park ( Savitribai Phule Pune University) and user groups such as RBI cyber security cell, Maharashtra cyber group, digital Maharashtra and defence and intelligence agencies.
The government needs to give high priority to the establishment of the Pune cyber security cluster, Khandekar said.