Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
23-December-2014 18:07 IST
27th IB Centenary Endowment Lecture


            Dr. Avinash Chander, Secretary, Defence Research and Development Organization has delivered the 27th Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture on the subject ‘Emerging Technological Challenges for National Security’, here today.


Following is the text of the Lecture:


Emerging Technological Challenges for National Security


India got freedom 67 years back after subjugation of more than 1000 years by foreign rulers.  We are again facing challenges threatening our freedom.

On one hand we are seeing new young generation, with their entrepreneurial skills and innovation skills, ready to take India on path of economic andindustrial growth.We are building a new capability, we are having a new great potential for economic growth and the individual growth. At the same time we are facing challenges both external and internal fronts.

We are in the hub of most turbulent region currently. On our west front Pakistan, democracy which is facing its own internal dissentions, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syriaare in the middle of turmoil. In the northeast we have insurgencies; we have hostile nuclear powers surrounding us on both sides andwith an established history of hostilities.

The security challenges today are going beyond traditional domains of land, sea and air. New forms of conflict, new domains of warfightingare emerging. The space which has become a dominant force in our day to day life, cyber space which is governing every activity has proved to be a boon and threat simultaneously, Underwater area is emerging to be a new area of conflict because of resource control, Unmanned warfare will change the way the wars are fought and the way the security challenges are going to be handled.

Asymmetric warfare, guerilla tactics, internal insurgencies sponsored by external forces has been traditionally a practice all over the world for thousands of years, and it is being refined more and more today by our adversaries.

These challenges also gives us an opportunity to play a leading role as a stabilizing force in this region if we can find solutions to these challenges and come out stronger, and that’s where the harnessing of our intelligence the process of information control becomes vital.

Information and Knowledge

Information has always been used as a weapon and it has emerged as the most powerful tool in present scenario. Harnessing of intelligence, processing of information, control of knowledge has become the single most important factor in security strategy.

The necessity to collect, process, and disseminate strategic and tactical information on the enemy’s forces and terrain has become increasingly important to forces.

From both the National and Homeland security perspective, knowledge about adversary’s capabilities, limitations and intentions assumes greater significance in order to degrade his strengths and exploit his weaknesses.

Intelligent Systems in Ancient India

Information gathering and Intelligence have been emphasized even in Vedas and Puranas. We find the invocations in Rigveda and Atharvaveda, where it talks how the spies of Agni came down from the sky with thousands of eyes. The son of Brihaspati, teacher of gods, Kacha was sent as a spy to Sukracharya to know the Sanjeevani Mantra as explained in MathsyaPurana. In sabhaparvam of Mahabharata “LokapalaSabhakhayanaParva” explains the importance of information gathering, establishing the spy network and related instrumentation in connection with armed forces.

 ‘ArthaShaastra’ by Kautilya defined it as an integral part of court craft. The first of two chapters on establishing an intelligence system explain five kinds of spies for gathering internal intelligence. Analyzing the information plays vital role in establishing the facts. The information has to be properly decoded, processed, validated against the source and then used to establish certain assumptions or to conclude the hypothesis.

Intelligence agencies in ancient India were not conceived of as an instrument of oppression but as a tool of governance. Intelligent agents were considered as 'eyes of the king'.

The process and need remain the same today also,what has changed is the technology.

Modern Intelligence Infrastructure

Under this scenario, the intelligence agencies like RAW, IB, JCB,ARC, NTRO etc are playing an important role in defining  the needs and driving the technologies. In addition to enabling the military with possible threat information, these agencies are assisting in the management of internal security with equal importance.

 The strength of any nation depends primarily on in its intelligence agencies. The intelligence agencies assess potential of the adversaries in terms of their Economic strength, Defence and Industrial infrastructure, Communication and Transport systems, political leadership, scientific and technical prowess, sociological, cultural and geographical factors and so on. Thus, the mission of our intelligence agencies is to support defence planning and operations and contribute to national security through a coordinated effort by the entire intelligence community


Technology for Intelligence

Technology in a way has revolutionized the mere genesis of intelligence, with it being a critical enabler in every phase of the intelligence cycle: Information gathering, Information analysis and Information dissemination to the decision makers. The impact of technology has not only revolutionized the traditional means of intelligence such as the Human Intelligence (HUMINT), but has also opened new disciplines such as:Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Cyber Intelligence (CYINT) and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT).

Let us look at intelligence collection. The human intelligence today has secure encrypted IP based, electronic channels that enable practically indecipherable and untraceable transfer with 512 bits long encryptions; digital steganography is one of the most difficult to intercept. Spread Spectrum & Frequency Hopping based encrypted communication is extensively used in battlefield operations.

Technology allows precise location of a transmitter, fingerprinting the system enable detection of individual transmitters. Precise measurements from space in hyper spectral domain are processed to differentiate between decoys and the real targets. It is also possible to detect missile launches & the nuclear radiations based on space based sensors, integrated with information from ground radars & networked sensors.

            The most important means of information gathering continues to be the open source intelligence – the internet monitoring, social media interaction, mobile communication access. A whole lot of technologies from voice processing, natural language processing, data mining, text analysers, ontology & taxonomy involving individual characterization, correlation and so on are being developed and constantly upgraded.

At the same time, there is a need to strengthen the security our communication as well as cyber infrastructure.


Cyber Security – Threats & Solutions

Today, military strategiesare guided by Network-Centric Operations (NCO). These Operations rely on computer equipment and networked communications technology to provide a shared awareness of the battle space that is expected to synergize sensors, command and control and result in superior decision-making, and overwhelming war-fighting advantage. It uses electronic and information technologies to provide real time situational awareness, mission-critical information, coordination and collaboration throughout the chain of command, securely and reliably.

The networking world is also going to be a driving force. Networks of every-day usage items are already a reality in terms of Internet of things. In future every human being will be having embedded devices in the body. Technologies being developed for mobile ad-hoc networks, swarms of mobile devices, intelligent dust will be common place. Ubiquitous networking may be the technology of the day wherein sensors (communicating over wireless frequencies) would be mounted everywhere in the environment making the environment highly interactive.

The cyber domain is also fast expanding: The 5G systems will allow massive data transfers upto1Gb/sec. the data flow and volumes will enhance multifold. By 2020 we are expecting to have 50billion systems connected to the network. Old net structures are giving way to dense cloud structures. Speed of information processing doubles every 12-18 months, parallel processing with optical interconnects on a single chip are enhancing the computation capability. A single breakthrough capability like quantum computation can change the entire scenario.

How do we protect our infrastructure and our cyberspace? US PRISM program used multiple techniques to breach the security. These involved hardware manipulation through the companies data, database tapping of agencies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo etc., internet and mobile phone metadata tracking, bypassing encrypted layers and direct intelligence.

In this context we need to make our critical cyber infrastructure trustworthy, dependable, survivable and conforming to the desired needs. The challenges are social engineering & masquerade at action level, password guessing and key logging at Human-Machine Interaction level, breaking of crypto protocols at algorithm level, tampering with authority, denial; of service, malware at software and hardware architecture level and finally interception and jamming at physical information layer.

Another critical threat comes from the life cycle risks which consist of supply chain Risk or Risk in operations. Supply chain risk gets inserted during development, shipment, Installation, Patch, Upgrade or remote maintenance. The operations risks can be introduced through insider Exploits or remote vulnerability exploits.

DRDO has made indigenous efforts for threat identification, Risk Assessment, Trustworthy development, indigenously architecture high assurance platforms and high assurance systems evaluation.

Capability exists for development of high grade cryptographic devices with indigenously developed cryptographic algorithms, architecture for LAN and WAN security and near term risk mitigation of software based security systems running on COTS computing platforms.

DRDO has initiated the development for trustworthy and secure networking devices that can maintain their performance integrity in face of attacks, trustworthy computing platforms for application specific information processing and trustworthy storage solutions to prevent data leakage.

Compared with attacks on software, attacks on ICs are much more difficult to detect and defend. However, the ultimate solution for such problems can only come with hardware fabrication within the country. This will require both investment and strategic direction.


Space Based Intelligence

With the advent of today’s satellite technologies, the focus of intelligence took a paradigm shift from earth to space.

Space based Intelligence is another prominent technology area in enhancing the planning, coordination and execution of the military as well as homeland operations in the future. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations, together called as ISR provides early warning of enemy threats and enables military forces to increase the effectiveness, coordination and lethality. ISR includes systems ranging from satellites, to aerostats, to unmanned aerial vehicles, to unmanned combat air vehicles, to other space based equipment. Space based intelligence assures Day/Night and all weather ISR. High resolution imagery, multi spectral images giving information and intelligent information on the landscapes are of prime importance.

SAR & GMTI have emerged as most effective sensors for long range detection and tracking of military targets under all weather, day/night conditions and achieving an accurate ‘kill’ of enemy targets through guided weapons. SAR/GMTI fitted on aircrafts can provide High resolution capability for precision mapping and navigation, analyze terrain composition and texture, battleground surveillance, target / decoy recognition, detect and track moving targets on the ground, etc


Space Security

Our space assets are to the tune of about $26 billion, but it is not the value of the assets, but the value of economy they are supporting which run into 100’s of billion dollars, through navigation, communications, mass media , all are dependent on Satellites. Our ability to predict cyclones,weather and crops, all are dependent on space.All these technologies, though offering benefits, are not spared from adversary threats.

To achieve self-reliance in the satellite navigation system, India is establishing the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System with dependents from across all the services. It is necessary to safe-guard such system of national importance.

One space assets are vulnerable to Electronic warfare like Jamming, ASATs, Laser attacks, Killer microsatellites, etc. Thus, space security is emerging as an important element in India’s national security matrix.

Space security demands that we should develop capability to identify and deter any attacks on these assets. Space Situational Awareness for Surveillance of all space objects, activities, and terrestrial support systems (satellites &debris).Rapid Spacecraft Development, Assembly, Test and Integration are required. We need to develop the ability to position constellation of satellites in formation flights.  We need launch systems   that are simpler and require less preparation time in order to greatly increase the rapid reaction capabilities.


Low Intensity Conflicts

Majority of threats gradually are moving towards low intensity conflicts as the efforts in making larger damages are much smaller.

Asymmetric warfare requires new technologies to detect and prevent infiltration. The ability to monitor their movements, funding processes, support base,  Spot and control, ability to monitor their networks, training, monitor their social fabric that enables their growth require total control of information, constant growth of new technologies and new knowledge.

The Foliage and Ground Penetrating Radars and through wall detection Radar being developed by DRDO will provide situational awareness in low intensity warfare environments. The standoff detection of IEDs and Explosives being developed based on Lasers will provide the necessary capability to identify the threats by comparing the stored spectral database of the explosives. Detection of concealed arms and ammunition is another major concern.

Similarly low weight, fast and long range rifles for war and non-lethal rifles for home land security are developed by DRDO.  Corner shot rifles, Arms & Ammunitions requirements are being developed and constantly being improved to meet the specific needs and challenges. Similarly portable Explosive Detection & Diffusion systems, Remotely Operated Vehicle- DAKSH, a Sentry Robot, Explosive Detection Kit (Post Blast), SAW Based Sensor for DNT & TNT are some of the products developed.

Communication & Jamming: To protect places of strategic importance and ensuring the security of VIPS from threats originating from remotely operated electronic systems, reliable communication and jamming systems are essential. With the high potential cell phones available with every one, such systems have become mandatory and their constant upgradation is becoming vital.

Personnel Protection: To provide self-protection of the defending forces, light weight bullet proof armour for whole body protection, bullet proof vehicle - Vajra and bullet proof helmets and jackets are being developed.

Research and development in all these technology areas are keenly pursued in the laboratories of life sciences, Armaments and Combat Vehicle technology clusters of DRDO.

Terahertz Technology

Terahertz radiation falls in between infrared and microwave radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum, and it shares some properties with each of these. Like infrared and microwave radiation, terahertz radiation travels in a line of sight and is non-ionizing Like microwave radiation, terahertz radiation can penetrate a wide variety of non-conducting materials. In the near future broadband or frequency- agile terahertz radar shall be able to form high resolution 3D images of targets, and to extract detailed information on targets in the land, air and in space.

As Terahertz radiation can penetrate fabrics and plastics, it can be used in surveillance, such as security screening, to uncover concealed weapons on a person, remotely. This is of particular interest because many materials of interest have unique spectral "fingerprints" in the terahertz range. This offers the possibility to combine spectral identification with imaging. The Net Centric Operations shall demand large spectrum and terahertz shall be critical enabler by providing terabits per second data rate.


Unmanned Systems

Autonomous systems such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle and Aerostats are highly effective in Surveillance and Reconnaissance. UAVs can be configured to operate in cooperative mission adaptive mode wherein Multiple Autonomous UAVs collaborating to accomplish a large scale ISR Mission carries out distributed intelligent processing of sensor data onboard and communicate each other to share information, to give commanders a complete, theatre-wide picture in real time.

Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle is already in use by Armed forces and the PMFs. RUSTOM 1 with capability of 7-8 hours endurance is ready. Next generation UAV Rustum-2 capable of operating at an altitude of 30,000 ft,  24 hrs endurance with payload of 350 kg and capable of carrying sensors like SAR, Maritime Patrol radar, ELINT, COMINT, Optical, IR imagery and tracking capability will made available within an years’ time including indigenous sensors..

Aerostat, an aerial platform for surveillance, operating at an altitude of 1 km and having a capacity of 2000 cubic mtswith payload of about 350kg has been developed. Advanced aerostats with a capacity of 5000 cubicmtrand more are under development. The future will be lighter than airship.

Radar with Electronic Scanned Array (ESA) technology is going to be available for high resolution imagery.

This coupled with high energy weapons capable of destroying / disabling systems at tens of kilometers is going to be vital. Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) will be participating in intelligent missions capable of identifying and distinguishing between friendly & enemy systems with proper signature management.

SWARM of UGVs operating in a coordinated movement and  Unmanned Ground Vehicles supporting the soldier will form integral part of the fighting forces, having the ability to go ahead of the fighting forces for detection of mines, booby traps etc, for intelligence gathering in the forward areas to enable timely action to avoid sabotage.

Advanced data compression techniques have enabled the soldier to transmit the video imagery through a hand–held system for analysis and decision making. The ability to see through the fog enhances the fighting capability and enable intelligence gathering.


Futuristic Technologies

There are several technology areas being explored for strengthening the intelligence.

Multi-INT fusion

Multi-INT fusion is basically computer-based discovery, collection and exploitation of location- spatial and geospatial- information from many diverse sources. The sources of imagery can be satellites or UAVs based on IR or SAR imaging. The imagery thus obtained, integrated with MTI, Maps and SIGINT and processed in the computer provides the right information and inference to predict and anticipate the situation/location of the Target/threat environment.

We have already entered Nanotechnology era, with many sub 100 nm technologies entering the commercial domain. This will result in a suite of new manufactured nanomaterials, nanodevices and nanosystems with unprecedented properties and functionality. Nanotechnology is expected to revolutionize the military capabilities in medium term, in areas as diverse as Information technology, future soldier systems, semiconductor technology, sensors and actuators, photonics, stealth and camouflage, biomedical science, biotechnology and aerospace systems.

Motes and Smart dust:         Smartdust is a system of many tiny micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) such as sensors, robots, or other devices, that can detect, for example, light, temperature, vibration, magnetism, or chemicals. They are usually operated on a computer network wirelessly and are distributed over some area to perform tasks, usually sensing through radio-frequency identification. The concepts for Smart Dust emerged from DARPA due to the potential military applications of the technology. As this technology is a new dimension in the art of intelligence and is conceived as more relevant, focused research in this area is on the anvil.

Nanoscale and Quantum Communications shall be requirement for communication among future nanodevices. There are two main approaches that are being investigated for nano-communications. The first is EM based Nano Communications that uses electromagnetic waves as information carriers. CNTs are the most promising material for nano-communications which can act as antenna and demodulator together. The second is Molecular Communications based on natural communication technique used by insects communicating via pheromones and is envisioned to become a viable method for future nano devices. Concentration of the molecule at close proximity of the receiver may be used to understand the molecular bit transmitter sent.

The future shall bring lot of convergences to the fore. One of the possible future directions is programming adaptability into the material itself. Programmable matter, which has the ability to change physical properties such as shape, density, optical properties, and others in a response to user input or autonomous sensing, may become reality. These smart materials could be programmed to self-assemble, alter their shape to perform a desired function, and then disassemble. Materials having computational and communication capability will have tremendous impact both civilian and military capabilities. Morphing materials can be used to change an aircraft‘s wings in flight or in clothing that alters its characteristics to keep users cool in the day and warm at night. Such adaptability could produce electronic devices that can adapt to heat and dust in the desert and then shift to resist humidity and moisture in a jungle environment. The enabling set of technologies is convergence of chemistry, information theory, and programmability to build information directly into materials.

Converging Info/Bio/Nano:

The long term shall see the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and cognitive technology that shall transform every aspect of life including warfare. It shall bring about unprecedented enhancement of human performance; brain-to-brain communication; cognitive warfare and even “Cyborg vision” may also become reality through convergence of human and machine intelligence.

Smart materials shall be combined to produce smart structures that perform sensing, controlling and actuation activities. The smart structures will be used to develop supernatural noses, ears and eyes that are smart enough to directly communicate with the brain. Such structures would enable soldiers to expand their sensory input exponentially.



Knowledge gets converted into Technology; when worked upon it, results in weapons. Technology doesn’t shape itself immediately into a weapon.  The transformation is time consuming.  How to convert a technology into a useful weapon is innovation cycle. These cycles used to take centuries and decades, The cycles have become much faster..

To meet the challenges of development of these high end and emerging technologies, we are committed to provide requisite training including upgrading professional skills of our Scientists & Engineers, required infrastructure for realization of these technologies and products, andinvigorating Academicenvironment.

But best of technologies are as good as the man behind it. What will continue to matter is his alertness, his ability to process information and threats and ability to take quick decisions and actappropriately. Our eternal freedom will depend on the ability to empower that man. That responsibility lies on all of us.”