The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) is a premier apex scientific organization under the National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister's Office, India.[1] It was set up in 2004.[2] It also includes National Institute of Cryptology Research and Development (NICRD), which is first of its kind in Asia. [3]

History[edit | edit source]

The National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), originally known as the National Technical Facilities Organization (NTFO), is a highly specialized technical intelligence gathering agency. While the agency does not affect the working of technical wings of various intelligence agencies, including those of the Indian Armed Forces, it acts as a super-feeder agency for providing technical intelligence to other agencies on internal and external security. The agency is under the control of India's external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing, although it remains autonomous to some degree. The Group of Ministers (GOM) headed by then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani had recommended the constitution of the NTFO as a state-of-the-art technical wing of intelligence gathering. Due to security concerns, the recommendation along with such other matters were not made public when the GOM report was published. The organization does hi-tech surveillance jobs, including satellite monitoring, terrestrial monitoring, internet monitoring, considered vital for the national security apparatus. The NTRO would require over Rs 700 crore (7 billion rupees) to procure different hi-tech equipment from specialized agencies around the globe to become fully functional. The officials have identified countries from where such gadgets could be procured but refused to reveal them due to "security and other implications." The Government had been working in this direction after the Kargil war in 1999 when the Subrahmanyam committee report pointed out weaknesses in intelligence gathering in the national security set up.[4] Sources said the road-map for constitution of the National Technical Facilities Organization was prepared by Dr A P J Abdul Kalam in October 2001 when he was the Principal Scientific Adviser. It was subsequently mentioned in the Group of Ministers report on internal security.

Activities[edit | edit source]

The organization develops technology capabilities in aviation and remote sensing, data gathering and processing, cyber security, cryptology systems, strategic hardware and software development and strategic monitoring.[5]

It is believed that it deals with imagery and communications intelligence using various platforms, including satellites. It is believed that the NTRO with ISRO launched the Technology Experiment Satellite. The Indian Infrastructure Protection Centre, an agency to monitor and assess threats to crucial infrastructure and other vital installations has also been set up under the National Technical Research Organisation. The Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) has a pan chromatic camera for remote sensing. The camera is which is capable of producing images of 1 Metre resolution. 1 m resolution means the camera is able to distinguish between two objects which are separated at least a metre. The launch of TES made India the second country in the world after the USA that commercially offers images with one metre resolution. It is used for remote sensing of civilian areas, mapping industry and geographical information services.

NTRO plans to go on an offensive against Chinese hackers.[6]. NTRO along with a scientific non-profit foundation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) in November 2011 initiated the National Security Database (NSD) project [7] as a prestigious accreditation program to identify credible & trustworthy Information security experts with proven skills to protect the National Critical Infrastructure & economy of the country.

Controversies[edit | edit source]

  • In September 2007, an article appeared in India Today detailing the difficulties faced by the NTRO, specifically how the other spying agencies of the Govt. of India are not allowing the NTRO to fulfill its duties.[8]
  • In April 2010, an Outlook India article (issue dated May 3, 2010), detailed further the issues plaguing the organisation, chiefly the issues of nepotism, inefficiency and corruption amidst the telephone tapping scandal.[10]
  • In June 2011, Indian media broke the news that CAG has found that Israeli UAVs bought by NTRO in 2007 at the cost of Rs. 450 crore was lying unused as the bundled satellite link purchased was not meant for dedicated military transmission, which would have made it vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping. An internal enquiry was ordered by PMO to find out if there has been a case of financial corruption.[11][12]
  • The Supreme Court of India, has ordered a probe into the allegations of financial irregularities in the procurement of military hardware. The law suit was filed by a whistleblower VK Mittal, who resigned as a senior scientist of NTRO and perused initiatives to unmask the officers behind the Rs800-crore scandals. [13] The court also observed that it might have to monitor the investigation, given the nature of allegations which point to systemic corruption in the procurement of surveillance equipment. [14]
  • In September 2011, an article appeared in The Times of India about how the spy agency had to force an officer 'to quit in 2007 after he used counterintelligence equipment, including a hidden camera, to bug the bathroom of its security and counter-intelligence director in NTRO headquarters in Delhi. The official was found guilty of placing a hidden, 'pin-hole' camera in the bathroom and linking it to his office computer. The bathroom, located on the second floor of the building, was used by not just the counterintelligence director Anil Malhotra but several other officials, including women staffers.' The incident came to light in September 2007 itself, but was hushed up.[15][16]
  • In August 2011, a wistleblower reported that NTRO has tapped 750,000 phones illegally.The matter was hushed up and no investigation was done.[17]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Special Corrospondent (6 May 2007). "Technical research agency planned in State". The Hindu. http://www.hindu.com/2007/05/06/stories/2007050609000400.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  2. Sandeep Unnithan (7 September 2007). "Spy versus spy". India Today. http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/content_mail.php?option=com_content&name=print&id=1067. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  3. Syed Amin (5 May 2007). "Top tech body to come up in Hyderabad". Rediff.com. http://im.rediff.com/news/2007/may/05tech.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  4. BHAVNA VIJ-AURORA (31 July 2008). "Dad’s army versus terror Flop tag on tech trackers". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080731/jsp/frontpage/story_9625918.jsp. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  5. "National tech research body to be housed in Hyderabad". The Hindu Business Line. 8 May 2007. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2007/05/08/stories/2007050802822100.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2008. 
  6. NTRO's Ethical Hackers to Conquer China
  7. NTRO on board, Cyber Security Database coming
  8. "Spy vs Spy". India Today. 2010-09-01. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/1067/Defence/Spy+versus+spy.html. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  9. "CAG to audit NTRO". Indian Express. 2010-02-11. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/in-a-first-for-an-intelligence-agency-cag-a/584232/. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  10. "Who Monitors the Monitor?". Outlook India. 2010-04-21. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265193. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  11. http://www.governancenow.com/news/regular-story/cag-unearths-rs-450-crore-scam
  12. http://www.rediff.com/news/report/cag-nails-raws-wing-in-rs-450-cr-uav-purchase-scam/20110615.htm
  13. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_court-to-probe-into-national-research-organisation-rs800-crore-scam_1576748
  14. http://www.livemint.com/2011/08/16215636/SC-wants-explanation-on-NTRO-s.html?h=B
  15. "NTRO staffer booted out for loo snoop". The Times of India. 2011-09-21. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NTRO-staffer-booted-out-for-loo-snoop/articleshow/10059650.cms. Retrieved 2011-09-21. 
  16. NTRO's ethical hackers to conquer China
  17. "Did NTRO tap phones?". Times of India. 2 Aug 2011. http://www.timesnow.tv/Did-NTRO-tap-phones/articleshow/4380345.cms. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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