THE MAGAZINE

Security in India Today

By Nicholas A. Smith, Jr., CPP, and Scott Shaw, CPP

Crime. In addition to terrorism, India projects a serious criminal threat scenario. One of the authors spent time in New Delhi in the late-1990s as part of a U.S. Secretary of State visit. At that time, pick pocketing and street scams were the most significant criminal modus operandi to watch for when "off duty" and in search of dinner or shopping. Today, crime represents an escalating threat for Western businesss and for Indian nationals. One Fortune 100 security manager, who resides in India, told us that his multinational corporation is very concerned about rising crime in country. India’s crime problem, he says, stems from religious and ethnic clashes, social events gone astray, and large inequities of wealth. Kidnapping is fast becoming a serious concern, with business leaders randomly abducted. Crimes against non-Indian and tourist women, known as "Eve-Teasing", are occurring more regularly, and involve groping or other forms of sexual assault. Theft remains the greatest threat to corporations.  

 
Acquiring current and accurate Indian crime statistics is difficult. due to crimes going unreported and discrepant gathering of metrics across the country's states. To overcome this obstacle, we sought out a formal security briefing from a colleague at a publishing firm who travels to India often. Our briefer shared crime prevention tips and spoke with us about hotel and street scams. Likewise, visitors who are unfamiliar with the terrain in India should seek out professional security advice, focusing on personal safety, medical, and security awareness tips and tactics.
 
One must be particularly attentive to personal security when traveling outside of the major cities. Employee security must be considered when planning domestic air and train travel as well as organizing international travel commencing from India. We recommend that security managers working in India identify internal business stakeholders, such as a travel manager and a risk professional, and develop a travel security program. Pre-trip security briefings may assist in heightening the business traveler's sense of security awareness, thereby diminishing the likelihood of criminal victimization. Using sources of intelligence and media reporting, the security manager can rank the risks associated with certain travel destinations. 
 
Here are some standard security practices we practiced during our stay in India. While dining out, shopping after-hours, and touring the City, we felt less conspicuous and most comfortable when accompanied by a local colleague.  We opted several times to travel in an Indian host's private vehicle instead of a hotel van or car service. One colleague wisely protected his wallet while entering a secure jewelry store via door-buzzer, as street people crowd about when shoppers were admitted.
 
The growing criminal phenomenon of stealing proprietary data also concerned our company's local senior management, both from a business protection and a personal security standpoint. Securing one's client data and business practices are mandatory in India’s financial services sector. Our review noted that physical protection for information systems was vital. We observed that access card programming levels were in need of review and that the access database required a clean-up. Additional card reader locations were identified to better protect computer rooms. In consideration of the transient workforce in India, these measures were especially important. Absent regular access database review and badge issuance and deletion protocols, former employees could possibly maintain unapproved access to your Indian business.
 
To best counter local assault, kidnapping, and robbery risks, we conducted a training session for our firm's executive drivers. Due to the significant amount of time spent commuting to and from the office and the diverse driving difficulties in India, many higher level employees employ professional drivers. Although most drivers in India are adept to the local traffic patterns, some may have limited training in security awareness. 
 
Drivers need instruction on how to identify a potential terrorist attack as well as ways to avoid becoming a target. In addition, drivers should be introduced to the significance of surveillance detection which further emphasizes preventing an attack from taking place by changing routes and times. Practical exercises reinforced skills learned and enhanced driving safety. Also don’t discount acknowledgment: chauffeurs can be motivated to perform well when they receive personalized recognition, such as training certificates. 
 
To further combat criminal risks, the corporate security team visited several executive's homes and assessed home safety and security. We identified fire hazards, such as blocked stairwells along with inoperable door locks and other easily repairable security discrepancies. One unique prevailing theme we observed was that Mumbai high-end apartment skyscrapers employ many support staff, such as cleaners, doormen, and repairmen. This is likely due to cultural considerations and the low cost of unskilled labor. Because of this, there are numerous individuals with access to the residential floors. Western business residents should be educated to report any suspicious individuals to building management or to the responsible security department.  
 
As we conducted our residential reviews, executive spouses were present two times and gladly participated in general family security awareness discussions. Executive protection must be considered as security managers devise programs appropriate for their firm's India-based businesses. With house burglaries and home intrusions on the rise, it is imperative that security managers conduct residential security surveys and implement physical security measures that protect residents and property.
 
Additionally, as more Indian women enter the professional marketplace, working often for U.S. firms, additional gender specific security issues may arise. The authors developed and launched a "Women's Personal Security Workshop" in 2006. This half-day participatory course of instruction serves to elevate attendee's security awareness while maintaining the theme that business travel security is manageable. Similar training is appropriate in any environment, when matched to the local culture and threat climate.   Topics contained in this class include “Personal Security Awareness,” “How to Detect Hostile Surveillance,” and “Tips & Tactics for Mitigating Personal Risk.” 
 
Emergency Preparedness. Beyond acts of terrorism and crime, our host management team said that emergency preparedness ranked highly on their list of concerns. As our site in Mumbai consisted of a very large urban office complex with thousands of employees residing on multiple leased floors in several detached buildings, we maintained special interest in developments such as contagious disease, demonstrations, HAZMAT leaks or spills, power disruptions, severe monsoon weather and resulting floods, telecommunication interruptions, and urban unrest. Inherently, leased environments complicate the development and execution of consistent emergency response operations, such as evacuation or shelter-in-place. While our employer had pioneered a global Best Practice Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) response initiative, accomplishing some program deliverables in India proved difficult, in great part due to tenant status. During the team assessment, we found ourselves concerned over how to apply successful emergency response protocols in Mumbai. Our colleague responsible for this global initiative determined that a detailed review of all aspects was needed and went about emphasizing floor warden identification, landlord liaison, and drills. He worked with local stakeholders to successfully complete an emergency preparedness checklist and ensured appropriate follow-up to achieve all recommendations. 
 
Security managers need to address emergency readiness in tiers. Focus first on fire safety. We observed fire safety issues such as obstructed hallways and over-stacked file cabinets and immediately corrected them, but fire safeties requires a full assessment and follow up where needed. Additionally, review any existing emergency evacuation plans, a critical but often overlooked tenet of emergency readiness. Do employees know the evacuation routes and remote areas of refuge locations? Does the security department communicate effectively to new employees on fire evacuation? By having a fire safety communication plan and planned evacuation drills, the emergency readiness component becomes part of the business culture. Lastly, develop shelter in place as an option for employees when the threat lurks outside. Each business unit should have adequate water and non-perishable food on hand in case shelter in place is longer than 8 hours. Due to the threat of random acts of violence that may impact employee’s ability to depart a building or campus, shelter in place is a viable scenario.
 
Emergency readiness for H1N1 swine flu is critical at this juncture as it is expected to peak during the winter tourist seasons in Goa and elsewhere in country. India has, to date, experienced over 3,000 cases of the virus. Both the Maharashtra and Pune state governments have previously closed schools, movie theatres, shopping malls, and other public venues. When traveling to international airports in India, visitors will be screened at a health counter and will need to fill out an information sheet declaring if they have flu symptoms before being cleared through customs. 
 
Having an employee communication plan and pandemic plan goes a long way in reassuring and retaining employees. Organizations operating in India should have a pandemic working group with security at the table. The committee should have specific trigger points for when to implement social distancing, restrict business travel, and cancel meetings. Telecommuting and generous leave policies to care for family members who have flu conditions are sound recommendations. 
 
Do not discount emergency planning in India. In the aftermath of past terrorist attacks and monsoons in Mumbai, the city and its people bounced back. The resiliency of the local economy and people is noteworthy: in short order they were able to return to a relative measure of stability. It may thus be tempting to disregard emergency readiness, relegating it to the back burner. However, by incorporating low-cost emergency planning in your business, Western firms can safeguard their assets and create competitive advantage because many competitors lack emergency readiness planning. It was this message that we conveyed to our audience during the India Security Conference.  

 

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