Wednesday, August 27, 2008



1.I would not say that the IT industry is at a higher risk than a year ago. The risk is the same---general and not specific. The blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh on November 23,2007, were directed against the criminal justice system ---the police, the lawyers and the courts--- which was seen as unfair to the Muslims. The blasts of July 26 in Ahmedabad and the failed blasts in Surat the next day were in retaliation against the perceived failure of the police to protect the Muslims during the anti-Muslim riots of 2002 in Gujarat and against the arrests of some leaders of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) at Indore in Madhya Pradesh in March last. The motive for the blasts in Jaipur on May 13,2008, and in Bangalore on July 25,2008, is not yet clear. The presumption is that the Jaipur blasts targeted its tourist economy, but they did not attack foreign tourists or spots frequented by foreign tourists as the Jemaah Islamiyah did in Bali in October 2002 and October 2005. The blasts in Bangalore seem to have been in retaliation against an incident in which some Hindu extremist elements allegedly threw the head of a killed pig outside a mosque. Many arrests have been made in connection with the blasts in Ahmedabad and Jaipur and the investigation is making headway. Whether those arrested constitute only the tip of the terrorist iceberg or they constitute the entire iceberg remains to be seen. If there are no more serial blasts for some time, that would mean the entire iceberg has been accounted for. On the contrary, if there are more blasts, that would be an indicator that those arrested constitute only the tip. My own assessment is that the terrorists would, if they want to damage the economy, create incidents in cities having a large investment flow in order to create nervousness in businessmen---Indian and foreign--- or attack businesses owned by Indians or the Government. A useful precaution in places like Bangalore, Madras etc would be to prepare a list of restaurants, shopping areas etc where it would be relatively safe for the staff of foreign companies to go.

2.I would not categorise from the point of view of cities where the IT industry would be at great risk. I would rather categorise on the basis of cities at risk if the terrorists take to economic terrorism. I would categorise Bangalore (large foreign investment flows), Hyderabad (large investment flows), Goa (large tourist---particularly Israeli--- flows ) , Jaipur (large tourist----Western-- flows) and Chennai ( large investment flows) in that order as high risk. I would categorise Mumbai (better policed) and Pune (Investment flows) as medium risk. The rest of the investment/tourist hubs would be low risks for the present.

3. I have not seen any specific evidence to show that they may target specific industries---IT or others. Their targets are cities having IT or tourist hubs. Their aim would be to create nervousness .

The police and the intelligence agencies are aware of the risks and possibilities and are taking the required precautions.