5 & 7th August 2013, Bangalore, India

Synergia Conclave 2013

Theme: Building Resilient Cities

With unforeseen disruptions in a volatile world today, it becomes increasingly difficult to predict what is around the curve. Leveraging on our capacity, our approach is to transform the way people react to these disruptions, and turn risks into opportunities. Over the past three years we organised many workshops around the world with Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Center for Transportation and Logistics (MIT CTL) on building resilience in the chain of custody, especially with the pharmaceutical and aerospace industries. The move was fruitful in developing measures to mitigate critical concerns such as counterfeiting, product recalls, and loss of Intellectual Property (IP). The success of this venture inspired us to take capacity-building to the next level, and start the Building Resilience initiative.

This will bring together experts from academia, politics and industry onto a platform for an exchange of insight, ideas, tools and methodologies on gaining comprehensive solutions to very real risks that we face today. This, in turn will result in the development of leading edge practices that can be implemented, and technology and knowledge that can be incubated and disseminated.

The Building Resilience initiative, we believe, is a progressive step towards a resilient and more sustainable future.


Sri. Siddaramaiah

Hon'ble Chief Minister of Karnataka

V Balachandran

Special Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

Tushar Girinath

Secretary of Revenue Department, Govt. of Karnataka

Shashidhar Reddi

Vice Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority of India

KJ George

Minister for Home affairs, Government of Karnataka

MN Reddi

IPS, ADGP, Law & Orde

Alok Mohan


Praveen Swami, Editor of Indian Express

Praveen Swami

Editor of Indian Express

SK Pattanayak

IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Home

Ashit Mohan Prasad

IPS, Chief of Police Intelligence

Pradeep Singh Kharola

IAS, The Chairman and Managing Director of Air India

Kaushik Mukherjee

IAS, Chief Secretary of Karnataka

Ceng Sagnic

Analyst, Institute of Terrorism Research & Response, Tel Aviv

Eric Oddo

Senior Policy Analyst, Maryland, USA

Dr. LV Krishnan

Associate Editor of Frontline, Chennai

Dr Lt. Col Shailesh Kulkarni

Faculty of NBC Protection, Pune


The session immediately following the inauguration had Mr. V Balachandran, former special secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, who emphasized the need for capacity-building. He said the current resources are able to handle only traditional crimes and disasters, but are not equipped to tackle non-traditional disasters like migration, epidemics, cybercrimes, climate change, human trafficking, small arms, transnational crimes, cross border factors, etc. "Building local intelligence is critical," he said.

Talking about the attacks on Mumbai, 26/11, he highlighted the proactive roles a government must play in averting any disruption. He said that the 26/11 attack could have been avoided had the Indian government agencies been proactive in increasing their coastal security after receiving several Central intelligence alerts on the LeT training a seaborne team.

M N Reddi, IPS, ADGP of Law & Order, a proponent of old-school policing, advocated going back to basics in order to effectively prevent crime and terror attacks. "…We must not forget that this system provides vital information on crime and criminals, aids surveillance of criminals both inside and outside the prisons and helps avert bigger crimes." said Reddi.

Speaking on the nexus between crime and terror, Alok Kumar, IPS, IGP of Grievances and Human Rights, said effective law enforcement and intelligence gathering at the field level are critical for better crime management. "Policing at the local level is crucial for effective law enforcement. Real time exchange of data between states and various departments is also essential, as we are faced with various forms of crimes like … counterfeiting, drug trafficking and extortion, which eventually breed terror links," said Kumar.

Talking about his experiences with disaster management and relief efforts with the floods in Uttarakhand was Sandeep Rathore, IPS, IG of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). He said there was a serious lack of coordination between the agencies that conducted rescue and relief operations. He endorsed empowering the victim and citizen – the first responder, he says, in any disastrous event, is the victim himself. In most cases, casualties can be mitigated if the victims know how to prevent aggravating the situation, and help themselves. "We should learn a lesson from Israel where every citizen behaves like a soldier. Zero to 48 hours is usually referred to as the golden period for any relief activity, after which chances of success get remote."

Praveen Swami, prominent journalist, former editor of the Hindu and current National Security Analyst with CNN-IBN, in his presentation highlighted statistics that surprisingly indicated that deaths due to terrorist and insurgent activities in India had plummeted over the decade. However, closer analysis outlined "India [as] an anaemic state" with a serious dearth of required resources to ward off any and all attacks. He said that India has the lowest number of policemen to people ratio - just 134: 100,000 against the UN norm of 250:100,000.

Speaking on the genesis of urban terror and its manifestation in the future, Ceng Sagnic, analyst at the Institute of Terrorism Research & Responses, Tel Aviv, said modern terrorism is not just about having the will to kill. "It is also about having huge capability, capacity through open and easy access to training, operational wisdom, quick guides for making bombs, and commercially obtainable technologies, techniques and methodologies. All these are available on the Internet as text, video and audio for free. So terror is all-pervasive today and anyone who wants to become a terrorist can easily become one," he said.

Answering questions about SOPs and Action Plans that need to be adopted in the case of any crisis, senior policy analyst at Centre for Health and Homeland Security (U.S.) Eric Oddo said that the operating management agency in question must always have an alternative crisis management plan. Human capital management, communication, alternative facility, vital resources and equipment were some of the requirements he listed. Talking about the Incident Command System (ICS), he said it stresses on standardisation of guidelines across all departments, including police, intelligence, health and emergency services. "It is a systematic process where individual units discard their own guidelines and all departments come together under the standardised format," he added.

Day 2 also saw discussions on Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Radiological threats. Speaking on emergency response to nuclear & biological threats, S Gopal, Professor of Strategic Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, said, "For Indians, till it happens, it never happens. Until it happens, we are not prepared for it. We need to change this attitude. All of us including the police, the medical fraternity, other agencies and the public, should be prepared for eventualities".

LV Krishan, associate, Centre for Study Science Technology and Policy said that with regard to nuclear threats, city administrations should have an idea about the size of a city's combustible load - number of cooking gas cylinders, oil and gas repositories etc. - so that they can be prepared and bring down the quantum of damage in case of a terror strike. Saying that there is a huge hype about nuclear disruptions, while traffic accidents kill more people annually, he put things into perspective and called for capacity-building in cities to handle any and all emergencies and not just those that are nuclear in nature.

Day 3 resumed debate on counter-terrorism. Ceng Sagnic, analyst at the the Institute of Terrorism Research & Responses, Tel Aviv, used Israel as an idee fixe for this: it has categorized its counter terrorism response options as soft-line and hard-line; Soft line responses try to address the root cause of terrorist activities, whereas hard-line responses address the actions taken by terrorist organizations. He also stressed on delegitimization of terrorists, getting society to see them as criminals, and using the rule of law against them was effective strategies to counter terrorism.

Speaking on Tactical Medicine was Dov Maisel, Chief of Operations at the International Rescue Unit, ZAKA. He mentioned that a casualty scenario in warfare entails both medical and tactical experience. A proponent of empowering those in combat with medical knowledge, he believes that its praxis would minimize combat deaths by more than 24%. Many deaths on the field, he says, are primarily due to exsanguination and haemorrhages – both eminently preventable if the soldiers know what to do.

Sanjay Sahay, IGP, State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), said there is a huge amount of sensitive data being pushed on the social media by millions of people in India. However, the authorities do not have any systems in place to capture and analyse this data. "Our voice interception systems are also very weak and they need to be strengthened. We are a tech-savvy economy and foreseeing terror attacks and disasters in advance should come in handy for us," he said, adding that homeland security market in India was a $9 billion business already.