Question For Experts
Q. Since 2014, various forms of organized subversive protests are on rise. Disguised national and international funding is undoubtedly involved. What has been done to identify these fundings and other economic resources which fuels these activities?

Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF
Thank you for your question, Rishikesh. As per the information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2021, around 22,691 active organisations were registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCA), 2010, which have received or receiving fundings from abroad during 2017-2020. Upon any information about the misuse of foreign funds furthering terrorist or anti-India activities received by the Ministry of Home Affairs, appropriate action under the FCA and other laws is taken. For instance, an NGO— ‘Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)’ found to have links with terror groups. The IRF was proscribed u..

Q. Is there any option for India to get Chattogram from Bangladesh so that we can make the landlocked Tripura and Mizoram gain access to the Blue lane and provide a major commercial route of shipping for the eastern states of India? (of note the scenario also considering the current state of Myanmar which is under a military coup)

Replied by Dr Sreeradha Datta, Centre Head & Senior Fellow, Neighbourhood Studies, VIF
India has no interest to 'get' Chittagong. Indeed ever since 2010 , when India and Bangladesh have been working closely on a gamut of issues including building cross border bilateral transport connectivity projects that will also include the South Asian sub-region, the two neighbours have been able to develop a huge network of cross border transport facilities . This amongst others has indeed brought the Northeast region closer to mainland India through many of the new bilateral agreements. Amongst many other cross border transport projects, Bangladesh had also agreed to giving India transh..

Q. Israel is now having working relationship with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE etc all Sunni nations, but not with Iran, a Shia nation(so called moderate in Islamic terms). What maybe the reasons for the same?

Replied by Hirak J Das
The fundamental reason for Israel’s isolation in the West Asian region is the continuing occupation of Palestinian territories. The pan-Arab and pan-Islamic solidarity for the Palestinian cause in the Arab world has been gradually overshadowed by newer concerns about transnational terrorist groups, Islamist mass movements like Muslim Brotherhood; nuclear proliferation, post-oil economic prospects, etc. Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco have adapted themselves to the changing realities. It is important to appreciate the context of the peace deals which are all based on strategic and economic considerations. Israel after signing the peace d..

Q. Pegasus: Security concerns to India & What are steps taken to tackle such Cyber Security threats?

Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF
Thank you for your question. Cyberspace is a dynamic and complex environment of users, networks, information systems, and services. Due to its characteristics of anonymity and borderless, cyberspace is vulnerable to various security concerns worldwide. In October 2019, Indian news media reported global breach of WhatsApp data, including around 121 Indians, with the use of ‘Pegasus’ programme developed by Israel-based organisations—NSO Group. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) raised concerns, and on 02nd November 2019, the MeitY had received response from WhatsApp on the matter. The Indian Com..

Q. With Pakistan on one side and China on the other, how do you see the Border Security situation along LOC & LAC, in addition to Taliban, which came up as a new threat?

Replied by Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee, Editor, VIF
Geography, vitiated by two powerful – one dictatorially autocratic and the other dictated by religious fanaticism – and instinctively expansionist neighbours, both with propensity to seek their goals through military power, places India under a state of perpetual threat. That the two are close collaborators and are more or less in league with the Taliban ideology make the matter worse. LoC and LAC are but manifestations of that burden. Independent India on the other hand, is focused on socio-economic uplift of the poverty ridden masses, as it should be. However, the Indian state has been distracted by banal notions to link th..

Q. What are the measure taken by the authorities in regard to contain the cyber-attacks in the country?

Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is a federal agency to respond to cyber security related incidents in the country. The CERT-In gathers the information and issue advisories about malware infections in networks across various sectors. To strengthen the cyber security, the government of India has taken following measures: - CERT-In issues advisories as countermeasures to protect computer systems and networks. - Government of India has issued guidelines for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) regarding their key responsibilities for securing the cyber milieu of respective infrastructures. - Prior to ..

Q. What is Information Technology Rules 2021?

Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 or the Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021, is a legislation stemmed out of Section 87 of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000, and in suppression of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. In 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed to strengthen the legal framework and held social media platforms accountable for disseminating fake news, under the law. Among other rules, the IT Rules 2021 defines social media intermediary in two categories: i) “Significant soci..

Q. What is Pegasus program and its connection with surveillance on WhatsApp?

Replied by Anurag Sharma, Research Associate, VIF
In May 2019, WhatsApp submitted an incident report to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), mentioning that it has “identified and fixed a vulnerability which could have enabled an attacker to insert and execute a code on cellular devices.” The Government of India acknowledged the issue of digital privacy infringements of its citizens. In November 2019, WhatsApp informed the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) about an exploitation of their platform by a spyware program—Pegasus, developed by the NSO Group. On 26 November 2019, CERT-In had sent a notice to the NSO Group and sought detai..

Q. Given the current situation, how do we establishing our presence in Afghanistan by having talks with Taliban?

Replied by Prerna Gandhi, Associate Fellow, VIF
Owing to the organic cultural connect and civilizational continuity, India has never had to 'establish' its presence in Afghanistan to earn legitimacy from its masses, much like the other regional players are compelled to do in the past few years to create the 'pockets of goodwill' in Afghanistan. Yet if we were to look at it from the prism of 'establishing Indian presence in Afghanistan', India is actively involved in developmental work in Afghanistan with over 430 projects in operation. Though India's developmental model is smaller compared to Chinese, American or European funding, the impact of the Indian aid in terms of per unit..

Q. How can India shift more towards R&D investment to become a technologically independent country? Now the investment is always looks for more and more returns in order to please the shareholders. How can we make a policy shift towards more and more R&D investment?

Replied by Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee, Editor, VIF
R&D is the foundation of technological development, and by implication, industrialisation. R&D is organised at two levels; One by undertaking translation of scientific principles into practical application; and two, product improvements undertaken at the user’s or manufacturer’s end. While the latter is more easily organised, financed and introduced in the interest of the users, original R&D requires high scientific knowledge, hugh investments and long gestation period. Even then, no more than 10 percent of the attempts find fruition, the rest do not work out. Long periods of slavery has put us into scientific and indust..

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