India now features prominently among the list of surveillance-heavy nations in the world. With even phone calls and SMSes becoming classified intelligence information, students of the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, say how comfortable they are with the idea.

When terrorism, insurgency, international trafficking and nuclear states come together in an equation, the result is a world that is at its dangerous best. Under this pretext, nations across the globe have strengthened their intelligence efforts by stocking up on the most sophisticated intelligence equipment there are. In India, which has been at the receiving end of one attack after another, governments have often hidden behind the term ‘intelligence failure'. With no real choice, youngsters seem willing to put the nation's security ahead of possible encroachments on their privacy.

Unanimously agreeing that an all-encompassing intelligence system has become a necessary evil, they accept being brought under state-sponsored surveillance. According to them, it is necessary if terrorists have to be tracked in a populous country. “If I am unaware of being under surveillance, why should I feel threatened?” asks Malar, while Karthik says youngsters today are ready to deal with their private information becoming public.

However, they do resent the loss of privacy. The possibility of private information being misused looms large as well. All they ask for is the establishment of a higher authority that can keep the checks in place.

SOUNDBYTES

“Last year, a rumour that all SMSes sent on the judgement day of the Ayodhya case were going to be monitored by the government created quite a stir in the campus and most of us didn't text the whole day. The government's purchase of massive intelligence equipments, which can track all our communication, does make us a little uncomfortable.” S. Malar, B.Tech. Production Engineering

“In the West, such surveillance is widespread and many are aware of it. But, the whole point of beefing up our intelligence capabilities can become useless if the information is misused and also if the government is being arm twisted by corporates. The intelligence wing must not only be free from corruption, but also strong enough to face external pressure.” Sahil Malhotra, B.Tech. Electronics and Communication Engineering

“The common man cannot be taken lightly — it is often someone from the masses who is planning something that shocks the whole country. But at the same time, the government, in the name of counter-terrorism activities, cannot encroach upon and exploit the privacy of its people. This power to know anything and everything that is being communicated should be handled responsibly.” P.K. Priyadarshini, M.Sc. Operations Research and Computer Applications

“I'm not surprised that India has stepped up its intelligence capacities. But, if there is no legal monitoring which can prevent exploitation of the information being gathered, it is pretty unsettling. The monitoring should be done by a body beyond the ruling government's influence, say like the Supreme Court or a civil society group.” P. Karthik, B.Tech. Instrumentation Engineering

“I think it is necessary, in today's terrorism-dominated world, that the government's intelligence networks be supported by sophisticated equipments and technologies. The common man's coming under this surveillance is an unavoidable consequence — in fact, I don't think it makes much of a difference as long as what we are communicating is innocent.” Abhishek Reddy, B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering

“Text messages people send or the words they use in a conversation can sometimes be misinterpreted as communication between suspicious groups. This can lead to innocent people being pulled up for enquiries. The Intelligence Bureau and RAW must first verify their findings against the existing database of suspects, before they call someone for an enquiry.” T.C. Gnanalakshmi, B.Tech. Computer Science Engineering

COLLEGE PROFILE

Three years away from its golden jubilee celebrations, the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, boasts of a cosmopolitan outlook. The institution is a melting pot of various Indian cultures. Being listed among the best engineering colleges in the country, it has several tie-ups with leading industries. NIT-T is known for its various social clubs and forums, and its signature cultural event, Festember. NIT-T has also given the city some of its most active bloggers.